Think it's been a fairly quiet Q1 for the 360? I do, which is why Atari's Bullet Witch perhaps held more appeal to me than it perhaps would have normally done.
Set in the non too distant future, this title see's you playing as Alicia, a 'beautiful' witch who has the mission of saving the world from the various demons and geists that stand in humanity's way. To achieve this you must fight through hordes of enemies with your Gunrod (half uzi, half wand) and various magical powers.
As you begin it takes little time to settle in to the control system. It also as little time to realise that Alicia isn't much fun to control. She sidles far too much and seems to have no lock on feature. Your gunrod starts off as a low level machine gun. It takes around 10-15 shots to kill a on comer, and feels weak and unsatisfying. Holding down either RB or LB opens up the magic menu (whilst gameplay is still going on), then X,A and B act as magic shortcuts. An example of this is the lightning spell you learn early on. Activate it and it cuts to a scene of Alisha casting and destroying all in her path. These scene's are actually quite nice and certainly the best part of Bullet Witch.
As you finish the first level you are awarded ranks in three separate categories, which in turn give you points to spend on a multitude of options. Kind of like Devil May Cry, you can increase the attack of your machine gun bullets, choose a new spell, increase health etc. There's a lot of things to play around with here and the simple RPG elements of levelling do give missions a certain replay factor.
Graphically, BW is mediocre at best. Not quite 360 standard, but better than Xbox standard. Perhaps best described as '180' graphics (like a mix of the two machines). Things are pleasant enough, but everythings quite blocky and non textured. At one stage I threw a car off into the distance via a witchcraft power. It went through a metal fence and off into a coastal area down below. Upon closer inspection I realised that the fence was still completely intact. Just lazy. After marvelling at GoW, BW seems to have missed the boat looks wise. In fact, BW never even made it to the port.
The sound effects are passable, but no more. What is amusing (laughing at you not with you) is the voice acting. Geists sound plain ridiculous, grunting throw away lines such as, 'I'm going to make Swiss cheese out of you' in a deeper tone than the late Barry White could ever reach. It really is badly written and performed. The music isn't exactly gripping either. Best played with a custom soundtrack possibly.
All in all, BW really did remind me of Bloodrayne. I think it wants to be a sort of DMC meets Soul reaver, but it fails in most area's. The combat is light and airy, never really giving you the feeling of being an all powerful character and this is what you really should be experiencing. On top of all this, there's BW only offers a short single player campaign (between 6 to 8 hours), although arguments can be made regarding it's lifespan due to the levelling system. There's also no XBL multiplayer at all. The only thing on offer is a leaderboard (like Ninja Gaiden) and future downloads, which weren't available at the time of writing this. New costumes are promised in the future.
Summed up, BW isn't a good game. Its length make it ideal rental fodder, and maybe a purchase at a budget price. Believe me, this will be reduced in price within weeks. No wonder a demo wasn't made available. Get on your broomstick come Friday and buy GRAW 2.
4 / 10