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Bulletstorm hands-on

Bulletstorm Screenshot - 866720

Any game with the cajones to call a special move, “Gang Bang,” gets an all-access pass to my watch-list. What? Even critics can have a dirty side.

Bulletstorm is an absurd FPS that revels in gratuitous violence, outrageous bloodshed, and humor too vile for the gutters. It’s going to make church-going grandmothers weak with fright, husbands will hide copies in sock drawers, and young boys everywhere will slip older brothers ten-spots to lay down their IDs, except in Australia, where politicians are too sissy for this much gore.

Bulletstorm is a score-based FPS, but not in the sense of The Club or 50-Cent: Blood on the Sand. You’ll get points for skillshots, such as pulverizing an opponent’s face with bullets, which unlock further skillshots and can be spent on weapon upgrades. You won’t have to kill every opponent with flair, but creativity is always encouraged.

To get the most bang for your kills, you’ll have to come up with combos, using guns, kicks, the environment, and a tele-kinetic leash. You could grab an enemy with the leash and pull him closer for a headshot, but that’s kid’s stuff. Instead, grab him with the leash, kick him into the air, leash an explosive container, kick that into the air as well, and ignite the sky with a human barbecue.

I only witnessed a few of the skillshots available, each with its own special name, including Enviro Mental, Bad Touch, Gang Bang, and Gag Reflex. Later moves will require a bit of finesse to perform, and perhaps a strong stomach. After delicately separating an opponent from his manhood, he’ll double over, aching to be put out of his misery. That’s what Bulletstorm calls a Mercy kill.

I predict that Bulletstorm’s biggest obstacle to overcome, excluding anti-game activists, will be keeping the combo-based gameplay fresh from start to end. I played through ten minutes of an early level, and I found myself repeating a routine of juggling multiple opponents with leashes and kicks before detonating entire groups with explosives. If I’m going for maximum skillpoints, why bother with lesser moves?

The city was congested with rubble, and mutated plants with a taste for humans. It was visually impressive, and I expected no less from People Can Fly - a subsidiary of Epic Games. Although I only experienced a small portion of the game, I am not sold on the level-design. I got lost on the linear path on three occasions, as did the player next to me. Something’s amiss when the developer says, “Yeah, it’s really hard to see where to go here.”

I have my concerns about Bulletstorm’s progression and level-design, but I certainly can’t doubt the developer’s appreciation for the finer points of human mutilation. Bulletstorm is brazen, crude, repulsive, and promises to be a downright, deliciously vile time.

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Brian Rowe
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