Bulletstorm Reader Review
Ahhh, this is more like it. A good old fashioned FPS which doesn’t have a hot poker up its arse.
This arrived with comparatively little hype and therefore it was not overburdened with the weight of expectation that so many of the AAA shooters have to handle.
I took Digital Foundry’s advice and decided to play this on PC. The game unsurprisingly is built using Unreal Engine - the proprietary engine developed by the parent company of the developers. This has been used in many games this generation and so the visual style of the game is very reminiscent of stablemate shooters ‘gears of war’ and ‘Unreal Tournament 3.’
The colour palette is however much brighter and cheerful than most other shooters. The game was beautifully optimised on PC and I enjoyed a superbly smooth experience and frame rate with my mainstream NVIDIA GTX460 card. The implementation of ‘games for windows LIVE’ also seems to have been improved and I experienced no significant difficulties with the system. Using this also allows for the game to be played without access to the disc, although your copy is irretrievably linked to your gamer tag.
The story is a typical ‘rip roaring tale of revenge’ with the main protagonist looking to settle a score with a corrupt military general that used them to commit atrocities for his own gain under the banner of legitimate military actions. The story is largely forgettable. You are joined on this quest by your best friend Ishi who is mortally wounded in the opening sections and is partially rebuilt with robotic implants which have a tendency to take over his higher cognitions on occasion and therefore make him very unpredictable. There is also a stereotypical feisty female space marine with a figure hugging vest that only seems there to provide the opportunity for the developers to show off the antialiasing on the curves of her breasts.
Most games of this sort need an angle to differentiate themselves from the crowd and Bulletstorm does this by turning the shooting into a sort of puzzle game. You are tasked with discovering inventive ways in which to despatch your foes using the varied array of weapons at your disposal and the numerous environmental hazards.
Successfully pulling off an original kill awards a boost in points. Subsequent identical kills are rewarded, but not to the same extent. The points earned can be used to buy more weaponry and ammunition. By this method the game encourages you to discover the new skillshots so that you have access to more of the satisfying ammunition.
The action can become a bit stilted due to the constant need to keep checking the menus to see whether you have checked off the ‘skillshots’ or not. Some of the skillshots are suitably grizzly and usually quite satisfying to pull off. ‘Mercy’ was a particular favourite of mine.
There are occasional ‘on rails’ sections and vehicular combat sections - though you never get to control the vehicles. One of these in particular later on was visually spectacular.
The game lends itself well to the score attack formula and this is developed in the echoes mode where you are tasked with the job of scoring as many points as possible in a discrete section of the game by pulling off numerous skillshots and completing the section as quickly as possible. Gaming peacocks can of course show off their scores on the online leaderboards.
The online play comprises of a Horde style attack where the object of the game is to rack up a par score across the team to progress to the next level. This was awful when I tried it out. There was no communication between the players and it descended into a bun fight with all the enemies seemingly being kicked off ledges or into cacti with no cooperation or consideration for what other players might be trying to set up. With a communicating group of friends this could conceivably work quite well.
This was a fun game which had some interesting new ideas and plenty of polish. I would certainly recommend it to anyone that is sick of the ernest portentousness of the Call of Duty series and just wants to shoot something in the face with a bit of flourish and swagger.