After previewing and then getting a hands-on look at Bulletstorm, I really have no idea what to think about it. On its surface, the game seems like it caters towards low IQ players who get their adrenaline pumping by smashing wooden furniture. Basically, it comes off as one of those games where it’d be the focal point of a huge controversy should a kid get an impulsive rush to stab someone while playing it. In other words, it’s an excellent college frat game.
On the other hand, your ability to rack up high scores is limited by your creativity to kill as many guys as you can in the most diverse and graphic ways possible. Essentially, if you can’t get a high score, this game makes you feel very dumb for not being able to think in one of man’s most basic instincts, killing.
Bulletstorm takes place in a science fiction setting where the player assumes the role of Grayson Hunt. Exiled to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, Hunt teams up with Ishi Sato – an old comrade in an elite mercenary force called Dead Echo – to escape a seemingly galactic paradise and take revenge on the man who sent them to their pending doom.
Players utilize a variety of weapons to pull off “skillshots.” The basic idea of a skillshot is to use a combination of weapons, moves, and the environment to kill mutants and flesh-eating gangs in the most creative ways possible. The more “creative” a player gets with his skillshots, the more points he is rewarded. The points are then used to purchase moves, upgrades, and more weapons to exaggerate the kills to a higher degree.
While it may sound fairly basic and simple, the amount of ways you can kill a man is astounding. For example, while demoing the game with Gamer Limit’s Editor-in-Chief, Chris Carter, the proctor explained to us that we can use the upgraded Leash – basically an electric whip – to bounce a group of guys up into a helicopter’s propeller while it circles above. That by itself had us salivating through our teeth, but unfortunately, we had difficulty pulling off the trick – specifically Chris.
The options are endless: players can kick foes into cacti, blow them up with randomly placed explosives, shoot ‘em in the face or groin, etc. Where players score big is when they chain their kills together with groups of guys or in a combination of different ways. For example, leashing a guy, kicking him as you pull him toward you, and then shooting him in the head before he is impaled by a cactus will score a player huge points. Essentially, your imagination is the only thing holding you back.
What really caught my eye about the demonstration are the visuals. The developers did an excellent job of capturing the paradise with many different colors, plants, and ancient ruins, but also made it dark enough to showcase its hostility. For example, at one point in the demonstration I came across a Venus Fly Trap like plant that literally ate a mutant right in front of my eyes. Since the game is being developed by Epic Games, it’s no surprise that there are many visual details that resemble Gears of War.
Similarly, the game takes full advantage of tactile shots and does it well. Every bullet that finds its mark will trigger an animation that is appropriate to where it hits an enemy. If you hit a guy in the head, he’ll fly back and instantly die; if you shoot a guy in the arm, he’ll stumble backwards grasping the wound; and perhaps my favorite, if you shoot a guy in the neck, blood will shoot out like a geyser from his jugular. Again, the possibilities are endless.
Many will be thrown off by the menial violence and its fine, aristocratic jargon, “You scared the dick off me!” But underneath it all, there’s a rich game that is both fist heart-pumping and incredibly detailed. Those of you who are fans of the Gears of War series, should find this on the top of your must-have list. If that doesn’t fancy you, then knowing that Steven Blum (Cowboy Bebop) voicing Grayson Hunt should get you excited.