Bulletstorm Review by Henry McMunn

Bulletstorm

Two years ago, had you heard of ‘People Can Fly’? Me neither. However, it seems that a small Polish developer recently made the best deal of their collective lives by joining up with the behemoth that is Epic Games, instantly pushing them to the front of the AAA-games industry, and giving them the money and the means to make Bulletstorm, a ‘purified’ first-person shooter which aims only to glorify in bloody death, left, right and centre.

You might ask, isn’t that what we already have dominating the market? Yes, in a way, but the focus of Bulletstorm is to so heavily over-cook the ultra-violence that it becomes not only laugh-out-loud funny in a satirical (albeit low-brow) poke at the genre, but also incredibly enjoyable.

The story is thin and only really present in cut-scenes, but for once this only heightens the experience, purposefully cutting back on plot and giving the player more time to get back to blasting enemies – which the game absolutely masters.

This might not seem the case when only armed with the assault rifle, the ‘Leash’ allowing you to drag enemies near you, and your right foot, where shooting seems a fairly tedious affair, but combining these mechanics with the game’s variety of short-to-long range and explosive weaponry can lead to some serious creativity and satisfaction.

People Can Fly try to encourage the player to use his or her imagination with an arcade-like points system for each kill – the more inventive the better. Each time you repeat the same kind of kill it devalues, meaning to get a steady income of points (which are used as the game’s currency) you will have to experiment with all weapons and environmental effects, and performing every unique kill is no easy task. In simplifying an over-used genre down to focusing only on how you dispatch your enemies, Bulletstorm is quirky, fun from start to finish, and surprisingly original.

The main problem with Bulletstorm is its lack of staying power after completion.

The campaign is a quick, yet unfortunately standard five to six hour affair, and after that lies two options. The ‘Echo’ modes are short section taken from the campaign in which the player must score as many points as possible, in a similar fashion to a time trial. Online Anarchy modes pits teams against each other scoring points by killing AI enemies, and while it’s fun in that familiar ‘wave mode’ sense, it doesn’t take long to get dry.

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Bulletstorm is a fantastic shooter, but its role is really a one-off weekend rental, rather than a £40 buy. It’s a funny, refreshing new take on something seen hundreds of times before, and an example of what we need much more of.

Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: People Can Fly / Epic Games
Number of Players: 1-8
Rating: M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong
Available On: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC

Henry McMunn is a games journalist who currently spends a great deal of his time listening to 50s swing, smoking cigars and watching Chris Morris satire. You can follow him on Twitter @failboatskipper

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