Gamescom 2010: Bulletstorm Hands-On ImpressionsBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Aug 26, 2010
What We Know:
Epic Games and People Can Fly are taking the shooter genre to wild and crazy new heights with their over-the-top action-stravaganza Bulletstorm. The game tells the story of Grayson Hunt and his crew of skilled death dealers who have been betrayed and left stranded on a gorgeous and lush apocalyptic planet known as Stigya. In action though, Bulletstorm is all about stringing together ridiculous kill streaks through a combination of weapons, melee, and environmental hazards to create combat the likes of which players have never seen before.
What We’re Seeing Now:
Two key factors People Can Fly believe will help separate Bulletstorm from the FPS chafe are the skillshot system and cat and mouse flow of the combat. Every kill in the game has a specific skill point associated with it. A standard kill (bunch of body shots for instance) will net you 10 points. A headshot, 50 points. However, if you string attacks together, you’ll rack up even more points, and that will enable you to unlock new weapons and items much faster. Luckily, there are tons of ways to pull off creative kills.
For instance, instead of just spraying some dude for a measly 10 points, why not grab him with your energy leash (unlimited uses and no recharge time), yank him towards you, shoot him in the head while he’s in mid air, kick him when he gets close and watch as he is impaled on a giant nearby cactus? I don’t know what this particular combo would net you points wise, but you can bet it would be something big. There are 100 skill shots total, so you can expect to be doing quite a bit of experimenting in the final game.
This kind of brutality ballet feeds into the game’s other key component and that’s the cat and mouse idea, which is essentially that sense of playfulness and curiosity that People Can Fly have built into the combat. They want players to be disappointed when they kill enemies in the typical point and shoot manner. The game is very much a playground and the more players take advantage of the tools provided, the more they’ll be rewarded.
In action, the game looks and feels spectacularly smooth. Not that you’d expect anything less from the team behind the Painkiller series, but still. Within a few seconds of picking up the controller, I was already sliding and kicking enemies into the air and blowing them out of the sky. Helping me to up my carnage capabilities were two power ups. The first let me charge up my weapon and fire 100 bullets at once, turning enemies into glowing orange mounds of bones.
The second let me grab enemies with my energy leash and slam them onto the ground, thereby causing all nearby enemies to be vaulted into the sky where there were then either shot one by one or blown apart collectively thanks to some fortunately placed explosive canisters that happened to be flung into the air as well. Choosing which power ups work best for you adds even more variety and personalization to the frenzied and lightning fast combat.
Throughout the game, players will encounter all manner of enemies and beasts as they traverse the massive and stunning environments, but none perhaps more terrifying than the mega-beast known as Hekaton. It isn’t clear what this towering teeth on legs has to do with the fate that’s befallen Stigy, but what is clear is that you don’t want to be around when Hekaton comes to town. Sadly, you won’t really have a choice in the matter since Hekaton is on the hunt for you from the moment you land planetside, and she will continue to pursue you throughout the course of the game. So you can expect plenty of, “Ok everyone, let’s just take it easy and head over…OH DEAR LORD!! SHE’S BACK! RUN!” moments as you progress through the story.
While I’m not a big fan of the “We have huge balls and let’s talk about how big our balls are!” tone that Bulletstorm is going for, there’s no denying the game's appeal. It looks gorgeous, it’s super smooth, and it’s the kind of fun that only a videogame can provide. It probably already was, but definitely keep Bulletstorm on your upcoming games radar as we get closer to its February 22, 2011 release.