“Kill with skill” is the name of the game, and over-the-top brutality and complete and total insanity will accompany your skillful ass-kicking, which is why you should absolutely consider a Bulletstorm purchase. Featuring hordes of rampaging enemies just begging to be annihilated in all sorts of outrageous ways, multiple deadly weapons, massive and intimidating bosses, and even a few allies, People Can Fly and Epic Games will soon deliver one of the most satisfying shooters of the generation. I choose that adjective because you really can’t play for five minutes without smiling like a demonic imbecile; when you find yourself looking around the environment for fun ways to eliminate your ghastly opponents, you can sense the sickness setting in… Am I sick? Why the hell do I like this so much? Why do I think so many others will like it so much? Oh, I get it…it’s merely a tension reliever, and we all need that.
The demo is up and if you’re had a rough day, you’ll want to download it. It’s quite short but you can play it through several times, testing out three available weapons and getting used to the whole “kill with skill” philosophy. The controls are quick and intuitive; you aim with the L1 and fire with the R1, as you might expect, and you can crouch with the L3 button. But the fun stuff is done with the R2, L2, Circle and X buttons: the R2 charges up a special and uber-powerful shot from whatever weapon you’re carrying, L2 throws out the ever-valuable leash, the Circle kicks, and the X button dashes and kicks. This is where you can get creative, because when you factor in the environment – which often offers numerous opportunities to maim – the game changes from a standard FPS into a continual onslaught of craziness. Believe it or not, you really do spend some time thinking.
Of course, it’s not exactly the kind of thinking that will get you into MENSA. But the point is, the creative deaths are the entire point of Bulletstorm; the more outlandish you get, the higher your score. The leash can be used to pull enemies towards you and if you hold down L2, you execute the Thumper, which tosses multiple foes in the air; while they hang helplessly, you can shred them to pieces. A common favorite will be yanking an enemy towards you, followed by a kick and a blast to the face. Looking around, you might find nasty spikes or dangerous electrical wires. Okay, whip out the leash and while the foe is flying towards you in slo-mo, angle your position so you kick him into those spikes or wires. The slo-mo part is what makes this so much fun; it isn’t so demanding because after kicking or leashing or whatever, the game slows down and lets you pump them full of bullets.
Now, there is a collision detection issue in the demo, because I once got stuck against a wall (I could only turn in place) and another time, I was fairly certain I had hit a bad guy directly in front of my face, but my ammo seemed to go through him. Other than that, I’m not really seeing much in the way of major problems. The graphics are cool, the sound is nuts and totally fulfilling and above all else, the gameplay is oodles and oodles of fun. I played the demo three times, each with different weapons, and I kept upping my score…I don’t even want to admit how much I laughed. It’s just absurd. Things can get a little chaotic if you’re in the midst of hell and you can easily lose your bearings in that situation but there’s a solution to that- don’t lose your bearings. Bulletstorm may launch on the same day as KZ3 but the former is a completely different game. You gotta trust me on this. Both are shooters, yes, but that’s about where the similarities end.
One final note- I think the story is semi-serious and I really think it would’ve been better had they not taken anything seriously. This production just begs to be over-the-top silly from top to bottom; I have a bad feeling any attempt at a somber tone will be painful. Thankfully, the gameplay and other crazy material will always take center stage.
1/27/2011 Ben Dutka