Preview: Bulletstorm

Russ Pitts | 8 Feb 2011 11:00
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It takes a hour or so to get any real feel for Bulletstorm. For some games, that's an indictment. Hell, I'll usually drop a game if it doesn't grab me in the first 5 minutes. Disc goes back in box, box goes to videogame Limbo, where the never-played wait to die. But not Bulletstorm.

For one thing, I got paid (by The Escapist) to play it, and flown (by EA) to a venue where there was literally nothing else to do but play Bulletstorm. It's hard to move on to the next game when there is no next game - just screens and screens of Bulletstorm - and refusing to play means, effectively, resigning. Still, even if you're not playing it as a job, I suspect you'll stick with it. There's just something about the set-up - as corny and over-the-top as it may be - that hints at the game to come. Something about the familiar Epic charm, filtered through People Can Fly's creative veins that grabs you roughly from behind and whispers "wait - you'll see," then leaves you to wonder what comes next, an epiphany or an ass-raping. Listen to that whisper. The payoff is of the epiphany kind and is as enormous as Bulletstorm's balls. Although if that last sentence struck you as profane and offensive, then you would probably have an aneurism playing Bulletstorm. Every character in the game talks like they woke up this morning on Xbox Live.

In Bulletstorm you'll play as Grayson, or "Gray," Epic Games' latest attempt to create the most offensive lead character in gaming. Gray is the leader of a ragtag bunch of ex-soldiers hell-bent on exacting revenge against the corrupt officer of their former squad, but don't expect the story to serve as anything more than wafer-thin coating of varnish, a bit of polish to give your inner thirteen year-old license to kill as many dudes as possible in as many grotesque and funny and awesome ways as you can imagine without feeling the least bit put off by the experience. As well-written as it occasionally is (with lines like "You're the one who shit the bed, I just washed your sheets."), the story floats in and out without leaving too much of a mark, landing just long enough to help you forget you're playing one of the dumbest games ever made, one tailor-made to make you feel like a kid again.

It's this level of abandon to which the game's hour-long setup leads. Bulletstorm is not your typical modern shooter. In fact, it plays a lot like shooters from about 10 years ago, even if it doesn't look it or even feel it. Take your modern physics and graphics engines and pair those with the unadulterated glee of a fast and furious, almost arcade-like shmup and that's Bulletstorm. You'll wonder when you had so much brainless fun with a game and then it will hit you: back before games had so much "brain."

The story you don't need to know and won't care that much about anyway: Grayson is stranded on an alien planet with his trusty cyborg sidekick (who occasionally tries to kill him), "Ishi." Their plans to destroy their former commander having gone somewhat awry, Gray and Ishi must find a way off the planet, which happens to be infested with a variety of dudes who are trying to kill them to stop that from happening. Setting, character, conflict. Check. Let's move on to the shooting, because the game does as well, rather quickly.

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