Bulletstorm’s marketing might well be engulfed in the garrulous mouth of Cliff Bleszinski, but he’s trying to get a message across: this isn’t your regular first person shooter. And it’s not – this isn’t just hyperbole or marketing (not solely, at least, as there’s certainly something marketable in a USP) because People Can Fly, resting comfortably in the lap of Epic Games, have come up with something fresh and exciting that we simply haven’t seen in a shooter for some time.
Indeed, this garishly hued, vapidly inhabited gun-em-up wouldn’t be half the game it is if it wasn’t for the mechanics, which, despite the viewpoint, make the game feel more like a next-gen mashup of Renegade and a Boys Own version of a rather more raucous, brash James Bond. So what sets Bulletstorm apart from the rest? It’s the wickedly entertaining use of weaponry and environment and the way the game’s Echo mode (essentially a stripped down, cut-scene free high score mode) brings out the devil in the player.
Anyone can unload half a magazine into an oncoming adversary, but if you do this in Bulletstorm you’re a) wasting ammo, and b) missing the point. In actuality, the game’s designed to soak up such attempts to play by now old fashioned rules, the enemies absorbing your pitiful attempts to take them down. No, instead you’re supposed to mix things up, throw in a boot and switch out your weapons to maximise your score and inflict considerably more simultaneous damage.
Here’s an example: slow down a rushing bad guy with a few bursts of the assault rifle, throw him up into the air with the Leash, wrap a sticky bomb around his chest and – when he lands – give him a swift kick to the chest to send that ticking human timebomb into the next crowd of opponents. It’s a viciously thrilling experience, your imagination being the only real limitation and whilst slow motion is a tired old practice, here it’s essential, giving you just enough time to change arsenal on the fly.
Of course, there’s an element of rote and repetition as you learn the layout of each level’s score attack mode, but that’s the point – the more you play the more you get out of it, and the better and more inventive you become at using the weapons (all of which have alternative fire modes) – the end of level leaderboards will no doubt prove as addictive for some as the likes of stablemate Need For Speed’s Autolog did as you try to best your mates at each level. Only through skill and adroitness will you do this.
I’m impressed. Bulletstorm has shown the world that a nice little hook is more than enough to ensure your game stands out, and although our man Cliffy’s keen to shout about the game until the cows come home, this is one game that kinda shouts for itself.