Developers: People can Fly & Epic Games
Producers: Electronic Arts
Plot: Two bounty hunters crash-land on a savage planet, one of them slowly losing their mind and the other hell-bent on a revenge mission.
I was unsure of how to take Bulletstorm, when I first started playing it. It is produced by the minds that came up with the Gears of War franchise, one of my favourite game series out there. As the player makes his way through the prologue missions, I cannot help, but draw the similarities between the two games. You are one of four soldiers, all muscle and gruff voices, spitting out witty one-liners every time they make a kill. Sure, this time you are on the other side of the law, but the characters are uncannily like Marcus Fenix and his men. Even the villain, Sarrano, resembles General Hoffman vaguely. The first half an hour and you are sure that the developers are trying to cash in on the same formula that made Gears so awesome.
Thankfully, as the game gets deeper, it finds its own legs to stand on. When you finally crash-land on the planet, the majority of the story takes place on, you have already lost half of the main characters and the stakes are raised. Like Gears, the entire game is set in real-time, so you are never cut from the action, creating a non-stop adrenaline rush kind of feel. In fact, it does this more so. In Gears, the action dies down in between chapters, yet here you are never given a chance to catch your breath. Even the story is told in such a fast way, you would be forgiven for missing it. This is not a bad thing though and creates a unique gaming experience that has you struggling to put down the controller, at the end of the day.
The gameplay is also very inventive. Rather than money, you are given a points system that helps you buy new weapons and get to the next level. To earn these points, you have to kill your enemies in inventive ways. Each weapon, or even location, comes with a new set of kills you can try out. The more you try the kill, the less points you earn, so the most successful players end up always trying out a new technique, creating a diverse and varied gaming experience. Like Arkham City, it is fairly easy to kill the basic enemy, but the charm comes from trying to look awesome while doing it. It is a feature I want to see more from the gaming world.
I hope I am not selling this as a mindless action thriller, because the story is a lot smarter than that. True, it is a shooter game, but the story is pretty good. It works with the structure that it gets and comes up with an interesting backstory for the landscape that you are fighting in. True, you could argue it is a pointless feature, but it adds a third dimension to the whole game. Also, the characters are really well developed. Don’t go into this game expecting a Heavy Rain-esque character story, but the story makes you care for the characters. Grayson (the main character) is a haunted soul, emptied by his thirst for revenge. When logical Ishi, your sidekick, gets badly injured and needs cyborg attachments to survive, Grayson becomes a guilt-ridden deep character. Also Ishi is constantly fighting the robot side of his brain, always one step away from turning around and killing Grayson himself. It is surprisingly thoughtful from the same guys who stuck a pointless sub-plot with Dom Santiago in Gears 2 and expected the audience to care.
But I must insist the game never gives up the fun. It is a game that just wants to make you grin like a maniac for a couple of days. The dialogue is razor sharp (best line: I am going to murder your dick!), funny and sometimes you are wondering how this game got past the censors. For a game that has a pretty rigid gameplay and story, it throws you so many interesting scenarios and enemies to face off against that you will never get bored. Sure, nearer the end, it gets a bit tricky for its own good, but I thoroughly enjoyed this game. A sequel is much needed, please.
Final verdict: Good honest fun and never a dull moment. Superb.