The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Do you remember the first time you shot an explosive barrel? That
sharp blast not only heralded gamers’ infatuation with reducing enemies
to pulpy puddles, it also laid the foundation for interactive
environments in shooters. Clever gunmen have trained their sights on red
barrels and other hazards for decades, learning the language of
creative carnage. All you know about killing with style using your
surroundings has been a prelude to the bloody playground of Bulletstorm.
into a game called Bulletstorm I expected a paper-thin story as an
excuse for nonstop murder. Instead, I was greeted with a humorous,
potty-mouthed opening that fleshes out the dramatic crash-landing of
ornery fugitive Grayson Hunt. His quest for revenge on corrupt military
leader Sarrano is a goofy sci-fi romp that doesn’t deserve to have its
Bulletstorm offers a degree of character
control I haven’t experienced in an FPS since Mirror’s Edge. Gray’s
kick, slide, and leash allow him to move through and interact with the
environment with fluidity. In other games, it would be unthinkable to
pull a foe from across the map, strap him with explosives, kick him back
into his buddies, and slide away while detonating the bloody mess.
Amazing moments like this are easy to pull off in Bulletstorm. The
slow-mo effect applied to enemies after being kicked or leashed offers
the perfect window of opportunity to boot them towards electric wires or
cacti, and the game has a predictive way of guiding the poor soul where
you wish. There were only a few instances where I accidentally impaled
some sad sack with rebar instead of feeding them to a carnivorous plant.
Other than that, racking up points with creative skill shots is a
reliably cathartic experience.
Skillshots are necessary to gain
points to spend on weapon upgrades and ammo, but they’re riotous fun in
their own right. Working similarly to trophies and achievements, players
earn hundreds of points by dispatching foes according to dozens of
general and weapon-specific criteria. For example, the “French
Revolution” skillshot is pulled off by decapitating multiple foes with a
chain flail, and “Fan-tastick” is earned by launching a foe into the
air and impaling him into the ceiling with a rotating spike, turning him
into a human fan. The weapons themselves are some of the most creative
and entertaining I’ve seen outside of an Insomniac title, including a
quadruple-barreled shotgun that evaporates enemies like the playground
scene from Terminator 2. Combine these weapon challenges with the general thrill of combat and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a mundane encounter.
you’re not mowing through legions of foes, you’re dropped into
larger-than life moments, like one that has Gray fleeing a tremendous
runaway cog on a tram while you blast gas tanks to knock the wheel off
course. In another scenario Gray giddily guides a remote-controlled
Mecha Godzilla lookalike through a miniature city, blasting apart
buildings and enemies.
In addition to the single-player campaign,
Bulletstorm offers Echoes and Anarchy modes. Echoes takes sections from
single-player maps and lets friends compete with each other for the
highest score. Knocking friends down the ladder is a nice distraction,
but only score fiends will want to play this after beating the main
game. Anarchy is a cooperative horde mode in which four players work
together to earn skill points to progress through waves. Playing catch
with foes using the leash and teaming up to kick a jerk into a gigantic
dino’s maw is a good time, but the higher level waves are impossible
without constant communication. Hooking up four consoles in a room among
good friends is your best bet, but even then the handful of maps start
to feel repetitive after your tenth time attempting to get past wave 15.
is an exceptional shooter brimming with personality and originality,
but the concept is spread too thin in the later levels. New homicidal
toys are constantly introduced in the first three-quarters of the game,
which makes the final few hours a little stale. Mix in a ho-hum ending
and the stellar experience goes out on a bit of a low note.
gripes aside, there’s no denying Bulletstorm’s blissful action. Epic
Games/People Can Fly’s sadistic opus arrives at a time when most
shooters do little more than let you blast dudes in the head while
things explode. Bulletstorm has those things, but also lets you shoot a
man in the testicles and kick slide his head off.
Email the author Tim Turi, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.