Appearances can most certainly be deceptive. Bulletstorm looks, at first glance, like a natural successor to Serious Sam, a game that requires you to indiscriminately dispatch all manner of enemies who come flocking towards you at speed. But as we battled through it, it was clear it had a lot more in the tank. A lot more. For while Bulletstorm might appear big and dumb at first glance, there’s a sophisticated, engrossing first person shooter behind it.
Bullestorm is set in the 26th century, as two ex-members of military force Dead Echo – Grayson Hunt and Ishi Sato – are left for dead on the world of Stygia. The task ahead of them is simple: survive, and then go off and help themselves to a serious dose of revenge.
Constantly exchanging solid one-liners and not averse to some serious violence, Hunt and Sato go up against some formidable opponents – not least the massive monsters that inhabit the world. This would all be testing enough at the best of times, but the game also keeps a tight grip on the amount of ammunition that you’re allowed to use. As such, you’re pushed towards the skillshot set-up that Bulletstorm employs. Fortunately, this is no hardship whatsoever.
How skillshots work
The skillshot system, basically, gives you extra credit for good, adventurous kills. There are various ways you can take critters down, from simply kicking them a hefty kick, through to blasting them, or using the environment to your advantage.
It’s all done in a gloriously over-the-top manner, too, and the added credit you get through more extravagant and clever kills is what will fund the best bits of your arsenal. It would be no exaggeration to say that this skillshot system gives the game a level of distinction we simply didn’t expect it to have.
Real thought and attention has gone into devising the assorted methods you can use to take enemies out – and indeed, much of the fun of Bulletstorm comes in exploring this element of the game. It certainly mades good on the promise to let you ‘kill with skill’. But with its tongue rammed firmly in its cheek, the game never takes itself totally seriously, either – another factor that’s very much to its credit.
Bulletstorm’s inventiveness and risque humour make the game feel like a breath of fresh air. The game has the vibe of an expensive Hollywood movie, and the relentless rush of action of a top-end blockbuster at that.
Granted, it’s living in a genre that’s not shy of offering choice, and the gleeful grin it wears on its face won’t be to everyone’s taste (and definitely isn’t for the easily offended). But Bulletstorm looks and feels different, and leaves us fervently hoping that EA might just commission a sequel. Because this might just be the most interesting new franchise we’ve seen in some time…
Company: EA Games
It's completely bananas, takes massive glee in celebrating your finest kills, and offers the kind of rollicking entertainment that others would do well to acknowledge. Bulletstorm might have problems, but it's an absolute hoot to play, and pretty near unmissable.