Bulletstorm is the newest endeavor from the folks at EPIC Games and People Can Fly with EA being the publisher meaning that it is available on both the PS3 and the Xbox 360. The game uses the Unreal engine which can be expected from Epic games and it does a great job in most aspects of the game however it does have a few issues which are fairly common from the game engine and those that have played other Epic games will probably notice happened in previous games. This is a first person shooter that has you in the role of Grayson Hunt, a space pirate that gets marooned on the planet Stigia and your goal is to get off the freak infested world by any means necessary. During this campaign there are many wonderful sights to be had and creative ways to gets kills on the enemies, after all the motto of the game is ‘Kill with skill’. Behind all this mayhem that you cause on the screen is actually a thought out story which was a little bit surprising because all the advertising and demo focuses primarily on the combat system.
The most important part of Bulletstorm is the gameplay and it is definitely something many fans of first person shooters will enjoy, finally the creativity of the kill is evaluated based on a scoring system and those points are used for upgrades. To aid in all this creativity the player gets an assortment of weapons, a leash, a sliding kick and a regular kick. When the player uses the leash or kick, the enemy goes into a slow motion fly through the air. While the enemy is flying through the air the weapons can be used to do various things with precision or to simply guide the enemy into an environmental hazard for big points. During certain sections of the game guns aren’t even needed because there are so many objects to impale the enemies on so it makes for great places to save on which can become scarce if you are playing Bulletstorm like you would play Call of Duty. To give the game variety there are a few on the rails sections where you have to just shoot at everything that moves to stay alive, whether it be on the back of a moving train or in a helicopter. These on the rails parts are the most difficult mainly because there is no way to duck into cover or replenish your vehicles health. These vehicle sections also allow for the movement on the planet that makes sense and allows for a great variety of environments to be experienced in a way that makes sense. Scattered in the world are also a few bosses and in usual Epic Games style, they are huge and have to be killed in certain ways that don’t take long to figure out because their weak spots usually glow orange. The whole time you are accompanied by an A.I. partner or sometimes two, but they do change over and this could possibly be a reason this game does not have a co-op component for the campaign though it would be nice to see it in the future. The A.I. partner is actually useful in the game and will get kills and best of all cannot die but if they make the kill you get no points, so it is best to go in Rambo style whenever possible if you want those points.
The sound design of the game is done well with Gears of War style music playing during the battles, which adds to the tension, Just like Gears of War when the battle is over the music turns off. This is a great feature during the really insane battles and gives the player a sense of relief. The voice over work is done really well and the actors that were used definitely knew what they were doing, at no point during the talking was the dialogue or tone of the game bad and this really added to the immersion of the overall game. The language in the game is also very appropriate for the gameplay, there are a lot of tongue-in-cheek comments and plenty of profanity. It did have me laughing during a few parts and kept a light tone to the game which was very appropriate though I would not recommend playing this with children within earshot.
The graphics in the game were really well done and had a lot of inspiration from the Gears of War universe when it came to the character design, even the main gun looks like the Hammerburst assault rifle from Gears of War with a few tweaks. The world on the other hand was completely opposite of what Epic usually does. The planet was once a vacation resort so it is very tropical and there are a lot of bright colors. Combined with the gameplay and the overall tone of the game, it didn’t make it feel like a serious game but something very fun to play. There are many great views from tall places and with a clear blue sky it is nice to stop and just look, the characters even mention how great the views are in a few segments. There are of course a few areas that are underground and they do get dark but they are broken up during the game. There are also some really well done weather effects that occur during the game that also add variety to the game so even areas that feel familiar can be seen in a new light. The draw distances in the game are also quite large, especially during the on the rails sections where there is so much going on close up to the player and far away but even on foot there are sections that are quite large with enemies coming from all directions.
There is an online multiplayer mode in Bulletstorm that is entirely co-op. There is no way to go against somebody in this game other then the online leader-boards for the Echoes levels. The online co-op has a lot of potential to be a lot of fun with the right people and proper communication. The game is structured as waves that come at you, but the goal is not just to kill them all, it is to get a target score for each wave. This is a lot like Halo’s Firefight or Gear’s Horde mode but with a bit more challenge. At first it is easy but soon the score required gets higher and higher and takes a lot more team participation to pass. There are also bonus enemies that have to be killed in a certain way to gain bonus points that could be the difference between passing and failing. An example of this bonus is “team tug-o—war” which requires players to use their leash at the same time to rip a enemy in half. If everyone is on board this is so much fun even without microphones but if everyone is just doing their own thing then reaching the scores is very difficult and frustrating. Just like any co-op event, the fun or frustration level depends entirely on the team and how the play together.
In all this greatness there are a few complaints to be had such as sometimes the game would not go to a death screen when you died and had to press start and go to restart last checkpoint. The first time it happened I thought that the game froze but upon mashing every button the start did respond. Also the close quarter fighting was a bit tricky and did not happen often but I did find it hard to find the enemy after it attacked me because it was standing so close and they are quite fast. This did cause me to die several times due to not being able to find the bad guy on my screen on time. The game is also fairly easy overall, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is a game about having fun and I was playing it on the hardest setting from the start. Out of the seven acts that are in the game, the difficulty did not seem to ramp up until chapter six when the number of enemies on screen was considerably more than in the past, and this made for a lot of edge of your seat fights, especially with mini bosses thrown into the mix. The main campaign is also very short, and can be knocked off fairly quickly especially on the lower difficulty settings but that’s alright because there is always the Echoes mode as well as online co-op. The Echoes mode provides players the opportunity to play selected parts of levels over with a certain set of guns for the highest scores possible as well as leaderboard positions. The Echoes mode is a lot of fun and definitely adds hours onto the main campaign, the Demo is an Echo level so anyone that played the Demo knows exactly what they are in for. The last complaint is the loading of textures in some parts of the game, though this is a common Unreal engine problem and can be found in games like Gear of War. There have been a few parts where ground textures didn’t load the high resolution textures and were just low resolution green blobs but the worst occurrence in my playthough was during a cutscene Grayson was rendered with the low resolution textures. This texture problem coupled with the game not registering death screens makes it feel a little rushed and with a shorter development time then other big titles.
Overall even with a few short comings this is a great game altogether and a lot of fun to play. The campaign may be a bit short but there is so much replay value packed into this disk that its hard to complain about a decent story that would probably feel dragged out if there were more levels added. The game looks great and plays ever better with a fun attitude that almost anyone can enjoy as long as they are not offended by the blood and gore and realize it is just a game. At one point or another every fan of a first person shooter has made a kill that they thought looked really cool and now with Bulletstorm those cool kills are awarded points encouraging more creative ways to dispose of the bad guys. So if you like easy going games that look great and are just a lot of fun then definitely pick up or at least rent Bulletstorm, if you are a fan of serious shooters then this game may not be for you but there is always a demo to try out to convince you otherwise. Also as a bonus to the Xbox 360 owners, you get a Gears of War 3 multiplayer Beta with your copy of Bulletstorm Epic Edition.
Bulletstorm is the new IP from Epic Games, the makers of Gears of war. This is a first person shooter is something completely fresh and has a really cool game mechanic. At first I wasn’t sold on the whole “Kill with Skill” Gameplay and during my first few playthroughs of the level 1 was slightly frustrated because of the adjustment to my play style that I had to make to rack up the points. The point of the game is to kill everything in sight, but also in the most creative ways possible. Using environmental hazards gives the player a lot of satisfying deaths to perform and ways to get creative. Before I knew it I was playing the demo for three hours, yes it was that good. The more I played the more different skill shots I found playing through the short level and some of the names are pretty hilarious. My favorite has to be “Homie Missile” which entails using the chain grenade launcher to entangle an enemy, then kick him into a group of bad guys and exploding him mid-flight and yes it looks as awesome as it sounds. When I first started playing my brother who was watching wasn’t that impressed, however when I called him to watch a later playthrough he did say it looked really fun and cool because of all the great kills I was finally making.
The graphics are top notch and pleasant on the eyes. The controls do work pretty well, but it is missing a small tweak. Most games allow you to use the right thumb-stick to crouch, this game either limits you to left thumb-stick or B but the kick is mapped to B by default which is a lot nicer than using the right stick. This may seem counter intuitive to all of you reading this but when A is run and A-A is slide kick, B is just easy to tap. As far as the demo goes, crouching is not that important but it is annoying because every games so far as allowed the right stick crouch. With all this crazy mayhem happening around you and pretty effects this demo is a lot of fun. The whole game is bound to be great if this level of polish is seen throughout, especially with the addition of co-op Gameplay where you and friends get to team up for some crazy killing action. So check out the demo and maybe if you aren’t sold yet, you will be now.