The new FPS from Epic Games, People Can Fly and Electronic Arts ends up being a campy, over-the-top offering featuring a new game play style that awards points for killing enemies in unique ways. The more outlandish someone dies, the more skillshot points you get.
You play as Grayson Hunt, a former assassin turned mercenary, who is on a mission to redeem himself by going after the people who used him to kill innocents. Sound convoluted? There are enough twists, turns, betrayals, and unlikely partnerships that you will end up targeting everyone at some point in the game.
The killing, which is the true lead character, isn’t just about using different weapons to off your opponents, but using the environment around you to deal the death blow. Spiked cacti and steel beams become your friends for the “Spiked” or “Voodoo Doll” skillshot points. Kicking an opponent off a high platform earns you the “Vertigo” skillshot points.
Players can cash in the points for upgrades to weapons and a special device called the Leash. The Leash is a wrist device that shoots out an energy tendril, allowing it to pull enemies or items toward Hunt. You can also use the Thumper feature of the Leash that flings people into the air, where you can pick them off and earn the “Trap Shooting” points.
Hunt starts off the game with a standard assault rifle, but other weapons are found throughout the scenes. My favorite ended up being the Flail Gun, which fires off two bombs attached together by a chain. Wrap up an enemy, kick him into a crowd of bad guys, and then set off the bombs. It clears out a room quickly and will earn you points for the “Gang Bang” skill or the “Grenade Gag” skill.
Get the idea? The more creative a player uses his weapons and surroundings, the better his weapons become and the more destructive he can be. Instead of just mowing down enemy after enemy, I found myself taking a few extra moments to survey what was around me and how I could use it to destroy others.
The wanton mayhem isn’t the only thing that’s over the top in “Bulletstorm.” Dialog is one obscenity after another in some of the most outlandish ways. Obviously, they are all NSFW (or for any real conversation) but they are out loud funny if you keep your tongue firmly in your cheek.
There is no real character development or even an attempt at real interaction between Hunt and the non-player characters that will help you along the way. Also, don’t worry about trying to figure out where to go next. The NPCs will lead the way and then stop right before heading into a danger zone.
There are also indicators along the way, like press B to kick open a door, that lead you by the hand through the linear game play. Single player maps can be replayed after completion to see if you can improve your skillshot score in a timed setting.
Multiplayer action ramps up the action by introducing 3 team members to destroy the bad guys with you. The play is the same, but team skillshots are introduced to add a bit of spice. Cooperation is needed to move along, so play with people who will work with you rather than go off on their own.
“Bulletstorm” is an entertaining attempt at making bloody fun with the skillshot feature. I think of it as a teenage shooter game that tries to get attention by being gross, obscene and sexually charged. It is funny at first, but after a while, it becomes tired – especially the dialog.
The shooting aspect is really something new and does keep the interest levels high as players try to figure out new ways to dispatch their enemies with a bit of style. Even towards the end of the game, I was still figuring out new combinations of weapons and environment that unlocked more new skillshot points.
If you go into this game thinking it is an elite FPS, you will be very disappointed. However, “Bulletstorm” and its “kill with skill” mentality is a great change of pace in the FPS genre that rewards players for doing something different. And that is refreshing.
“Bulletstorm“ is now available on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. It is rated M for mature due to blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language, and use of alcohol. This review was done playing a retail copy on the Xbox 360.