E3 2010: Bulletstorm Hands-On Impressions

By Jordan Douglas on June 22, 2010, 6:31PM EDT

Bulletstorm, from developers People Can Fly and Epic Games, is an upcoming first-person shooter that rewards players for killing in a creative, sadistic way. Being built on the Unreal Engine, in close collaboration with Epic, has given Bulletstorm a very familiar presentation - it looks strikingly similar to Gears of War, albeit at a much quicker pace. While the core "skillshot" mechanics are entertaining, the limited move-set in the demo makes the game's staying power uncertain.

As mentioned above, Gears of War fans will instantly recognize the familiar art style throughout Bulletstorm. The environments, lighting, and weapons all have the signature Epic look to them, although the game plays nothing like Gears. Gameplay wise, a better comparison from Epic's catalogue would be Unreal Tournament, as Bulletsotrm emphasizes more of a run-and-gun play style.

The objective in Bulletstorm isn't just to kill people, but rather to do it in the craziest way possible. Players need to utilize the "skillshot" mechanics - such as kicking, lassoing, throwing, timed attacks, and a number of environmental hazards - in order to wrack up points and combos. Earning points allows you to unlock enhanced weapons and additional ways to annihilate your foes. The key in Bulletstorm is to chain together as many skillshots as possible - for instance, kicking then lassoing an enemy in mid air, while at the same time shooting and throwing them into a pile of spikes is an effective way to score points.

There are numerous different combinations of skillshots players can use to increase their score, unfortunately, the demo only allowed us to experiment with the basics. While the core mechanics are enjoyable, the thought of how long they would stay fresh and exciting did cross my mind. The continued variety of skillshots will no doubt make or break the experience. That being said, Bulletstorm's online component should shine, as achieving even a minor skillshot against another person will always be more satisfying then playing against the AI.

Bulletstorm looks to take griefing to a whole new level by building the entire game around humiliating, insane kills. The brief time spent playing the game was definitely enjoyable, but we'll have to see more to be sure of its lasting appeal. Keep your eyes open for Bulletstorm when it hits store shelves early next year.

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