Welcome to Waypoint 101, Our Video Game Book Club


#1

Our first episode focuses on the first half of 'Binary Domain,' Sega's bizarre, off-putting, and charming cover shooter from 2012.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/welcome-to-waypoint-101-our-video-game-book-club

#2

2017 Patrick Klepek’s desire to yell BIG BO! in a podcast when this show was announced was bad too.

I don’t think any human characters in that game are good, but my thoughts gonna be spoilery for a second half.

I took two women with me all the time, just not to listen to other guys, but it gave me another problem: partners praise you so much, it’s very uncomfortable.


#3

It’s a real shame that the opening mission of this is so trudgey, gears of war rainy, because shortly after it opens up into wonderfully varied and interesting settings. Not surprised if many people didn’t see past that.


#4

Really looking forward to getting to listen to this when I get through the slog of homework being thrown at me.

I did just want to take a second and say that it really made my day seeing my submission getting picked. I really love this site and I am terrible to joining conversations on the forum. Still, you guys made a community I want to be a part of and it means a lot to me to have left something of a mark here;


#5

Great submission! Charmed all of us!


#6

Yeah I had to push through the opening when replaying it too.

Honestly I don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said, cuz I’m waiting for the second half to really dive into it. There’s… places to go.

What’s the estimation on when part 2 is gonna come out?


#7

Is this gonna be the discuss ch 4-6 thread too?


#8

I’ve not played any of this game, and don’t intend to. Will I still enjoy this show?


#9

I’m in the same boat, I have no interest in Binary Domain but the show is still worth a listen. It was entertaining hearing Rob being outside his comfort zone, this is clearly not his kind kind of game. Let’s hope he gets his own back in a future episode and Patrick has to play a Paradox grand strategy :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#10

With all the big reveals happening in the second half of the game, maybe it makes more sense to talk mechanics here, then plot later? I dunno.

At work and haven’t had time to listen to the podcast, but very quickly, this is what I took from the first half of the game (played on PC) I didn’t play it when it came out, so I think not having that reference point makes me less inclined to forgive some of its clunk:
-Controller support is pretty awful on the PC, in certain sections I had one hand on the controller, one on the mouse.

-Field of view and camera are also not great. You set them at the outset of the game, but I didn’t notice a way to adjust on the fly, could be I missed something

-Everyone kind of sucks. Dan sucks the worst at this point, but in my opinion that changes. Cain’s cool though.

-The shooting is not very fun, but that is probably just its 2012 showing through.

  • Hey, hey, buddy. Hey, that robot boss you just killed. Hey, guess what? (whispers) It’s not really dead yet!

-Upgrade system doesn’t really seem to do much or go anywhere

-I liked the design of Neo-Tokyo, and the idea of a New Geneva Accord to address AI. There, something positive!

-Oh yeah, weird product placement. Now excuse me while I enjoy a delicious Tully’s Coffee!


#11

One thing I very much enjoy about the game is that while it is a cover shooter, it doesn’t force you to spend all your time sitting still. I played in a very mobile manner that a lot of games like this punish and discourage. The way enemies are designed and the way destroying limbs works gives you alternate ways of avoiding damage besides just sitting around doing nothing. Having that tiny extra layer to think about made it a much more engaging experience.

It was fun hearing everyone’s thoughts on the characters. They did a good job evoking that the game is full of strong characterizations. Not necessarily likeable, and certainly not especially good people, but they make a very strong impression even while they so plainly embody the standard tropes of the genre that tend to be so bland in this game’s contemporaries.

A quick note on my hopes for the next installment, I’m gonna talk a tiny bit about the structure of the plot here but not about the story specifically. This is one of those games with multiple endings, and considering how busy everybody is and the “best” ending being a touch difficult to get I sorta hope they might take the time to check out some of the stuff they don’t see on their own playthrough before they record. Not really a huge deal though.


#12

Hah, I remember playing this game on PC, using an old Xbox 360 mic to bark orders at my hard of hearing squadmates. This routinely startled my cat, even though she doesn’t care when I speak over the phone or videogame voicechat. Or directly at her. Maybe she only listens to the name Big Bo…?

PS: I don’t know if you are already taking suggestions for the next game, but I’d love to hear your reactions to the infectious madness of Asura’s Wrath.


#13

I’m not sure if this is a spoiler, but do japanese characters feel more human to any one else? Like even that yakuza scene felt like it was dirrected by a different person. Is that intentional? Also, somebody, please explain to me why would a robot chose to speak with an accent?


#14

I slogged through the first chapter tonight and I’m really glad to hear from everyone that it opens up and gets better going forward. Aside from what everyone else has mentioned I’m finding myself constantly wishing that the controls were basically the same as Destiny. I guess it’s just force of habit, but the shooting just doesn’t feel as good and doesn’t really take some of the weight off the narrative the way it does in Bungie’s game.


#15

The squad feels more like a collection of action movie tropes… the people actually living in the world definitely feel more real. Then again the biggest emotional response I have had has been from hollow children.


#16

I just want to say I love this idea, and I’m excited it’s happening. I don’t have the time to commit to it, but I’ll listen along on the podcast episodes.

Since finishing undergrad, the community provided by a book club with some of my coworkers has been really meaningful for me. It’s been a good place to think and talk critically.

Shout outs to Brainy Gamer’s Vintage Game Club back in the day too!


#17

It’s just that for me there was such a sharp tone divide between the squad and the rest of the world. I almost felt angry at the game for not doing more of these grounded scenes.


#18

Having listened to the podcast now, and reflecting a bit more on the game, the idea of the Hollow Children (which really rolls off the tongue) is ambitious, and the most affecting scene in the game is when the mob kills that Hollow Child. But that, to me at least, is totally undercut by the fact that after it I had to play Binary Domain some more. I wish the game was more about those types of interactions, and it also makes me wonder if for some games it’s just better to watch the cutscenes on youtube. For me, BD would have been better if I’d just watched.

It’s also interesting in the way that BD and Nier tackle the concept of robots being able to fear. For instance, when the Hollow Child is shot up and beat up by the mob, it feels fear and strikes out at the dude that shot it. In the Nier spoilercast (spoilers for second half of BD too) they talk about how giving the children robots the ability to feel fear ends in tragedy as the child robots are overwhelmed and end up killing themselves. In BD, when the main AI is given the ability to feel fear, it strikes out at its creator and steals his identity. I don’t know if that gets us anywhere except that “Robofear is bad”, but was just something I noticed.


#19

Loving the concept of book club. I thought Binary Domain was an excellent pick for the first game. I had never heard of it before and find it fascinating, both as a “historical piece” as well as the game in and of itself.

Binary Domain feels like one the last in a generation littered with third person shooters. My pet theory is that for the game to get greenlit they kept adding features until it got approved. Like how some described Final Fantasy XV as a game where the developers threw in every feature they thought of, this game feels similar. The sheer number of weird mechanics makes this almost feel indie in some ways.

The voice control system, though it does not work, as astutely noted by the podcast, is an interesting attempt for a future where voice presence will be more natural in games. I was very excited to try it out and hooked up my Playstation Eye. This created the amazing effect of an infinite loop of Big Bo yelling something, the microphone picking it up, and Big Bo responding to himself, even interrupting himself. Unfortunately I had to turn it off.

In general though, I was impressed with the conversation system, especially how it is fluid even in battles. As noted on the podcast, it’s especially nice how the “morally correct answer” is not always the one that will earn friendship. The conversation system, the relationship system (which goes down if you shoot your teammates which is neat), and the ability to choose your teammates leads to a feeling of false autonomy. One that I was convinced was affecting my play throughout the game and potentially my ending.

I found as well that the first chapter made me roll my eyes. However as time went on, I became endeared to the fun and odd Japanese view of non-Japanese cultures. I agree that the treatment of Big Bo feels very much a continuation of a stereotyped role African Americans have had in Japanese games, most notably stemming from Barrett in Final Fantasy VII.

I also loved the bizarre system of having a Resident Evil like stat grids, that either found or purchased through scattered vending machines everywhere in the world. Upgrading character weapon progression was an odd JRPG mechanic that did not quite fit with the game and was easily exploitable. I liked the concept of shooting the robots more generates more money, encouraging a play style opposite of Western counterparts. The effects that stemmed from shooting limbs off also added fun variety. The shooting really fell apart though in how arcadey it ended up feeling, rather than tactics based. The game does support tactics options for your AI counterparts, but I never found them particularly useful.

I also really enjoyed the brief respites from combat in the conversation zones. It added a nice break from combat to get a better sense for the world. I will probably add more thoughts on the story after the second part is posted, but the exploration this game did that stuck with me was a return to an idea of imperialistic Japan. A removal of Western values, where an effective dictator reigned once again. I found it a fun thought experiment, though one that did not go as deep as I would have hoped.


#20

I kept having to remind myself that this game is only four years old. It came out a month before mass effect 3! Maybe this is my biases showing but I think if they wanted to do more with the themes and the characters beyond the very bare bones it might have done better as more of an RPG than it was. IDK, it didn’t seem like there ended up being a lot of impact from conversation options and things like that.

It’s a shame the squad tactics weren’t more emphasized and the voice controls were so bad. Probably my favorite gameplay moment was a time I ordered a charge and Bo just crashed through a whole load of enemies. It even acknowledged that it worked out well! Companions noticing when you’re doing well is a neat touch in general, although it happens a bit too often. (Note that those audible compliments correlate with an increase in their opinion.)

Patrick mentioned on the show that he felt it was more memorable than a lot of shooters, but I have to say I don’t really agree. I feel like I already forgot everything but the broad strokes and I only played it a few weeks ago, when it was first announced for this. I am curious to see what everyone has to say about the second half, especially Rob who didn’t have much to contribute in part 1 (having only played chapter 1. It gets better, Rob!)

P.S. What austin was saying about the lore snippets you pick up sounded really interesting, but I didn’t bother looking into those and missed most of them anyway. A shame more of that wasn’t highlighted in the meat of the game.