[boxout]There are few people in modern game development that are as outspoken, well-known or unapologetically opinionated as Cliff Bleszinski, Game Designer at Epic Games. Simply having his name attached to a project is a surefire way to get the press talking about it as his quotes (and, often, misquotes) are used to write headlines that keep an upcoming title always to the forefront of a gamer’s mind.
People Can Fly is the name of the studio who are actually doing the overwhelming bulk of the development work on Bulletstorm although we’re confident that, with Epic Games playing the role of producers and their Unreal Engine powering the game, PCF will have had access to all the resources and knowledge of that venerable collection of developers too.
With the game due this week and our review due to arrive shortly thereafter, we thought it was time we talked a bit about what we have seen so far.
You will play as Grayson Hunt, a dishonourably discharged former special forces soldier who has been working as a space pirate since his commanding officer betrayed him and got him unfairly booted out of the force. It’s been ten years and, when Hunt finds himself inebriated and with an opportunity for revenge, things take a turn for the catastrophic and his ship crash lands, delivering him and his robotic sidekick on to the surface of a planet infested with meat-eating plants, mutants and giant dinosaur-like monsters.
Thus, the scene is set and you will now have to fight your way through a varied and diverse collection of enemies on your quest to escape and, presumably, avenge your disgrace at the hands of that nefarious commanding officer.
The game is a loud, foul-mouthed, brash assault on the senses and it has been smugly joked by many previewers that its obvious attempts to appeal to a base sense of humour leave it feeling unintelligent. We found that there was a surprising, and enjoyable, sense of self awareness to the humour. Rather than just being dumb humour for the sake of a cheap laugh, it seems to be dumb humour with a sly wink to the fact that it is unashamedly dumb because sometimes that’s just fun.
The gameplay revolves around the principle that killing stuff is easy but killing with style should be rewarded. Players will get higher scores for more imaginative ways to kill using the range of weapons, “energy leash” and the regular, uncomplicated use of your boot. It’s a novel approach that serves as a hook to hang the rest of the gameplay on and will allow high-score runs and leader boards to play a prevalent role in the game’s long term playability.
There has been a substantial amount of excited buzz surrounding Bulletstorm (not least around that profoundly stupid Fox News piece) and we’re not far away from knowing if it was well deserved or just a whole lot of fuss without much substance. From the little that we’ve seen so far, our money is firmly on the former.