GamesCom: Bulletstorm Preview

By Lee on September 13, 2010, 9:29AM EDT
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"That's it, now get him with the leash. Right, now kick him. Kick him! Brilliant. Now shoot him in the ass and see what happens. No, no, right up his hole! That's it! Awesome! Hahahaahaaa!"

I've never had a developer say that to me before. But then I've never really played a game quite like BulletStorm. It was simultaneously the most stupid thing Ive ever seen and the most fun I had with a controller at the entirety of GamesCom.

The upcoming collaborative effort between People Can Fly and Epic Games, Bulletstorm is an over-the-top FPS that not only tasks you with blowing the crap out of everyone, but also rewards you for doing it frankly ridiculous ways. And I do mean ridiculous.

But let's get the boring stuff out of the way first. Bulletstorm has a storyline, of sorts. It's about two space pirates that find themselves on a pretty paradise planet populated by mutants and cannibals and other nasty types. You are Grayson Hunt, the big, drunk, lumpy hero. And that's all you need to know.

This isn't about characters, or journeys of self-realisation, or learning profound life lessons. It's a big, dumb videogame and it's perfectly comfortable with that fact.

So instead of an ultra-minimalist HUD, Bulletstorm's screen is alive with points alerts and messages. These are courtesy of the Skill Shot system, a method of building points for creative kills. Shooting enemies in the chest will kill them, but it's when you experiment that real points start racking up.

So, shoot an enemy in the throat for a Gag Reflex. Blast somebody in the balls so they fall to their knees, then finish them off for a Mercy kill. Or take out two enemies without reloading or taking your finger off the trigger for a Full Throttle skill shot. All these are worth hundreds of points. A normal kill, meanwhile, will earn you 10.

Building on this, the weapons and abilities on offer open up your options. The leash is perhaps the most interesting, a kind of electrified lasso with bullet time qualities. Deploying the leash you can launch objects and enemies in to the air in slow motion. While they are there you can use flail gun grenades to detonate flying explosive barrels, chaining deaths and destruction in massive Enviro-Mental skill shots.

The highlight skill shot I encountered, however, is the one the dev talked us through. Whipping somebody into the air and unloading a clip right up their bum. It's called Fire in the Hole.

The idea then is that every time a new wave of enemies comes into the lush, colourful environment, you'll revel in the opportunity to unleash more mayhem. It certainly worked in my play through. Experimenting with Bulletstorm's toy box of stupidity is like a teenage boys dream.

In this regard Bulletstorm is the ideal game for a big trade show like GamesCom. It's accessible, easy to pick up, immediately gratifying and it certainly put a smile on my face in the short amount of time I spent with it. I just hope the finished product can carry its juvenile verve through an entire campaign. If it can then Bulletstorm may find itself as a nice little antidote to the straight-faced, serious posturing of Tom Clancy's Call of Modern Honor Battlefield. I hope it does.

As for whether the game is for you or not, consider this. Bulletstorm is a game not content with featuring mere double-barrelled shotguns. Oh no. Bulletstorm has quadruple barrelled shotguns. If that's the kind of thing that puts a big silly grin on your chops, then Epic and People Can Fly may just have the game for you. Duke Nukem beware.

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