Xbox bulletstorm-preview

Published on July 8th, 2010 | by prime


Bulletstorm – Preview

Another shooter? Really? You can’t walk through 360 land without stepping on a Halo, Modern Warfare or Gears of War wannabe, but hold on a second, as this game seems different. Firstly it’s being promoted from Epic’s favorite agent of hyperbole, Cliffy ‘B’ Blizinski, and secondly, the aim of the game isn’t to dispatch foes in quick succession, but instead reward players for killing cannon fodder in the most dramatic way possible, earning point accumulators – a la Tony Hawk Pro Skater – along the way.

Bulletstorm is set in the far future, where mankind has reached into the furthest reaches of the galaxy. The player character is a loveable pirate named Grayson Hunt, who happens to find himself marooned on a deserted paradise planet with his robotic crew mate Ishi Sato in tow, after being pursued by his former employers Dead Echo, a mercenary force who is now hunting them down. However, all is not how it seems as Grayson not only has to survive the attacks by his would-be killers, but also the domestic plant life and mutated humans which also reside there.

Sci-fi shenanigans aside, the plot is really just an excuse for some balls-out first-person shooter gameplay, with imaginative weapons, varied enemies, fluid combat and visuals which just scream ‘Go on! Have some fun!’

The gritty grayness common in modern games is shirked aside for colorful locations and elaborate weapons. Characters are emotive, colorful and slightly eccentric, with the protagonist constantly spewing expletives and ridiculous one-liners which we couldn’t help but immediately fall in love with.

Everything is so ridiculous and over-the-top, yet strangely endearing, all at the same time.

It says a lot about the gameplay that headshots are ordained to be the least-stylish way to kill. Instead, gamers can utilize the powerful laser-like arm, which has the capability to throw enemies up into the air while suspending them in time for a short while, allowing a swift shotgun slug to the face or, more imaginatively, fire off the grenade chain, which has two pineapples linked together, allowing the explosive ordnance to wrap around an enemy before blowing him, her or it to smithereens. Combat is constantly on a loop, so the more elaborate deaths you can chain together the better. Grayson also has another strange ability – he can slide around on his knees to get from one area to another for multiple seconds at a time. It all seems very strange as we witnessed the main protagonist sliding around a boss in a sleek circle, but this dynamic does serve to increase the speed of combat. The likeable pirate can also kick enemies, propelling them into the air for some time-lapse showboating – if you do so wish.

If we were to compare Bulletstorm with other shooters, it’s most natural bedfellow would be Duke Nukem or Serious Sam, as the action is all aimed at empowering the player. As you impale enemies on cacti, shoot armed soldiers in the crown jewels or turn them into glowing skeletons, catchy taglines will pop-up on the screen along with a score bonus. These points in turn can be used to buy upgrades, abilities and unlock new weapons via stations throughout the game’s levels. The ‘Skillshot’ system is one RPG fans will be very familiar with, and after a while, propelling enemies into the air and callously kicking them into electrical fences soon becomes second nature.

Despite being early in development, everything seemed very polished and smooth. Only a few levels were shown off during E3, but they each gave a clear idea of the game’s structure, with the campaign constantly being reinforced by dramatic set-pieces and huge boss encounters.

The only aspect which has yet to mentioned is multiplayer, and seeing as Bulletstorm is being overseen by the makers of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War, surely there has to be some kind of competitive multiplayer component, or even co-operative play in there somewhere? We’ll be investigating further and hope to be able to report back with more news soon. Kicking your best mate into the air before exploding their corpse for a points multiplier, could be the best thing in online gaming since chainsaws arrived in Doom.

Only time will tell, but from what we’ve seen so far, this could be the game to put the Polish studio on the map. Expect to hear more about Bulletstorm before its release next year.

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