First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
In Bulletstorm players take the role of Grayson "Gray" Hunt, a double-crossed space pirate out for revenge against his former commanding officer
- Innovative skillshot system, hilarious dialogue, engaging campaign from start to finish.
- Thin story, AI quirks, multiplayer may not be for everyone
Like its innovative predecessors, Bulletstorm goes against the grain of the popular norm, often in exciting and hilarious ways, and though it's not perfect, it's still one hell of a ride.
Bulletstorm is a strange bird in the world of shooters. It chooses to violently wag its middle finger at the superserious shooter that's inundated the first-person-shooter market, offering a bit of levity among its doom-and-gloom-drenched brethren. To that end, Bulletstorm offers a hilariously over-the-top experience, complete with a potty-mouthed cast, incredibly inventive ways to dispatch foes, and a campaign that impresses with some nicely varied gameplay and thoroughly enjoyable boss battles.
Players take the role of Grayson "Gray" Hunt, a double-crossed space pirate out for revenge against his former commanding officer, General Serano. After his ship takes a devastating beating in a firefight against Serano's massive vessel, both Gray's and Serano's ships crash-land on the planet Stygia. In addition to being the home of some fierce wildlife and creatures, Stygia's humanoid inhabitants are at war, making Gray's goal of getting off the planet much more difficult. A half-cyborg named Ishi and the gun-toting badass Trishka accompany him along his way; both add a nice amount of personality to the experience.
Early on, Gray gains access to Bulletstorm's most innovative tool: the energy leash. The leash allows Gray to pull his enemies toward him through the air while simultaneously causing a sort of "bullet time" slowdown effect, giving Gray ample time to set up one of Bulletstorm's varied "skillshots." Pulling off a skillshot requires players to find creative ways to finish off enemies, whether it's shooting them in the crotch, pulling them into a spiked fence, feeding them to a carnivorous plant...the list goes on. Players can access the skillshot list at any time to see which ones they've yet to pull off, and in addition to the environmental skillshots specific to each level, each weapon has its own list. Performing skillshots grants players points they can use to upgrade weapons and buy ammo, so simply running around and carelessly shooting enemies in the face is not really an option. Besides, the skillshots are actually really fun to pull off, and since Stygia's designed like a futuristic reimagining of Macaulay Culkin's house in Home Alone, the game constantly presents players with new ways to mangle their enemies. The whole system is wonderfully executed, and the way it allows Bulletstorm to deviate from typical run-'n'-gun shooter gameplay is refreshing.
In addition to utilizing the skillshot system to take out lesser foes, players encounter some highly entertaining bosses over the course of the game. A few on-rails segments pit players against gigantic abominations, like a huge rolling wheel of death and a creature that resembles the Cloverfield monster. The scale of these battles is impressive and adds some nice variety to the more skillshot-centric gameplay.
Aside from the main campaign, Bulletstorm offers an interesting take on multiplayer. Teaming up cooperatively, players take on hordes of enemies in Anarchy mode, with the explicit goal of accumulating points by performing skillshots with other players. Gameplay is split up in waves, with each wave bringing more powerful enemies and upping the point goal. My one concern about Anarchy is that it really requires careful teamwork to play successfully, which could turn off more traditional FPS fans that prefer to just jump online and shoot other people; it really is essential to play Anarchy with a headset. The other "multiplayer" mode is Echoes, where players can compete for the highest skillshot rating and fastest time in sections taken from the single-player
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