Ok, Fine, You Can Call Me 'Dick Tits'
Like many of you, I too was a big skeptic when it came to People Can Fly and Epic's upcoming over-the-top first-person shooter Bulletstorm. Initially, I saw a bunch of gimmicky game mechanics, absurdly complex weapons, cheesily interactive surroundings, and foul-mouthed meat heads dropping fratty one-liners. And, yes, it is, indeed, all these things.
However, after playing the recently released demo on Xbox LIVE, all of these otherwise gaudy features are done extremely well and the game is a blast to play. I found myself absolutely reveling in roadie, running up to an enemy and booting them into a wall of spikes. It felt pretty damn amazing growndsliding feet first, knocking an enemy up in the air, then unloading a stream of bullets into their head, mid-air. Bulletstorm moves well and feels incredibly smooth. The aiming is tight and accurate, and the impact of the bullets feels heavy. You can sense the Gears of War influence pulsating through it at all times. Which, of course, is a very good thing.
- Big boss encounters will break-up the comical gunfights -
Most of the features I thought were going to be gimmicky and shallow actually add to the experience in very interesting and inventive ways. Take the Plasma Lasso / leash for instance; it’s a link that you can toss out and yank your enemy towards you, leaving him floating in front of you for demolishing. Throwing something like this into a first-person shooter is a big risk. And, frankly, it’s not really necessary here but it’s just fun to use.
The combat in Bulletstorm is hyped by the phrase “Kill with Skill”, which basically means combining the many different ways of slaughtering an enemy to increase your score. For example, lassoing your enemy towards you then kicking him into a spiked wall will snag you more points than simply machine-gunning his head off. Interesting concept, but I don’t see it having legs. It felt a little too "Tony Hawky" for me.
Also, there is a gun called the Flail Gun that shoots out two tethered bombs that wrap around the body of your enemy and explodes, killing everyone around it. It’s something you have to see to believe. First-person shooters could use a few gameplay risks like these nowadays.
Speaking of seeing. Bulletstorm is gorgeous. The atmosphere is thick and detailed. The chaos unfolding in the gameplay is enhanced by the crumbling, dilapidated urban sprawl around you. It has just as much personality as the enemies, the weapons, and the blue commentary. I’m anxious to play though an entire single-player campaign.
But, where does this game fit into the first-person shooter world? Over the past few years, the climate of the genre has settled into a very gritty and humorless groove. Games like Black Ops, Halo, and Battlefield dominate the online space in a hyper-competitive, serious way. Any kind of recent arcade-style FPS has come and gone faster than clients at a seedy downtown massage parlor. Bulletstorm is skating on thin ice trying to steer the genre back to the Unreal Tournament days of fast-twitch running and gunning, but People Can Fly and Epic Games just may have put their finger on what made that so fun in the first place: Not taking itself too seriously. Only time will tell whether or not gamers are getting tired of the realistic FPS song and dance.
- Shooting a guy in the throat five times will net you a skillshot -
Now, it’s not that my apprehensions aren’t warranted. We are talking about Cliff Blezinski and Epic. We are waiting for a game that will inevitably be reaching upwards towards the bar that Gears of War 1 and 2 set, which is a pretty damn high bar. But, considering the type of experience I’ve had with the demo and seeing E3 footage of the apparently massive single-player campaign, I’m eagerly anticipating engrossing myself in Bulletstorm. You can’t get much more of a sure bet from a new IP than this, folks.
Bulletstorm is going to be available on February 22nd, 2011 on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
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