Bulletstorm, and thoughts on games.

Itchy and scratchy , Happy Tree friends, Bulletstorm. All have one thing in common, cartoon violence. Bulletstorm has it by the bucket loads. And it’s no bad thing.

Bulletstorm is the love child of a collaboration between epic and People Can Fly, a developer best known for Painkiller , a crazy shooter involving a dead guy stuck in purgatory, tasked with killing four of Lucifer’s generals in order to stop a war between heaven and hell blah de blah. What it turned into was one of the best shooters I have played since Quake 3 on the PC. I am not alone in my thoughts on this. Click play below for the Zero Punctuation thoughts this masterpiece.

 

(edit) play , sorry , but embed does not work from The Escapist Magazine, even though they give you the option.

Story

Bulletstorm is the same crazy over the top manic style of game as Painkiller. You play as a complete jerk in a cast of complete jerks, a walking washing machine of a man called Grayson Hunt, a Assassin working as part of a black-op army Black Echo. You discover that after all this time you are the bad guy and you have been killing innocent people for your jerk of a boss called General Serrano.

So, a few years later you get plastered drunk, kick some people out of an airlock and crash your ship into the Generals Battle Cruiser.  You then get stranded on the planet Stygia, a once beautiful resort now overrun by pirates, mutants, meat eating plants and giant monsters, or as I see them , cannon fodder. Oh yea, and the general and the rest of the stranded militia. Did I mention the meat eating plants, er, I think I did. You then need to stitch your nearly dead best friend up as a psychotic cyborg and go finish the job of killing the general.

I am not making any of this up.

There you are , the big jerk , with your big jerk friends.

Fortunately for me, most video game stories go over my head anyway, and this is just filler to set the scene. The characters all all horrible people, except the meat eating plants, who are plants just doing their job, and the dialog is crass, sometimes bordering on rude, but often funny in a weird witty kind of way.

 

Gameplay

Where the bulk of the work went in on this insane title is the gameplay, and it shines. As a arcade style shooter with throw backs to the days of Doom, Quake and Painkiller, the way to finish every level is to kill all before you. And make no mistake , the game gives in droves. AI is lacking here, as enemy’s charge you or use brute force to make sure you never see the end of level. What you have are a range of over the top weapons, each with a alternate fire. These vary between your trusty Machine gun with a “burning shotgun” mode. A pistol with a nifty flare gun, a chain launcher which fires a bunch of grenades to wind around objects or foes, a (pretty crap) bomb launcher, and a Sniper Rifle which lets you guide your bullets. These are just a few of the weapons you will find and unlock.

The star of the show is the “Skillshot” system. All kills are a points based system, and as you do more imaginative kills you get more points. Imagine the happy feeling when you get that “achievement Unlocked” sound and message on the XBOX, now imagine that being with you ALL THE TIME !

The real juicy stuff is with your leash. early in the game, for reasons I will not go into here, you come into possession of a leash. This glowing, high tech device can be used to grab enemy’s at a distance , or bounce them off the ground. Using the leash, alternate fire modes and environmental hazards creates the most satisfying arcade shooter experience I have played since Painkiller.

Skillshots

As you can see from this clip, this is not a game for the easily offended, as this is just a small smattering of some of the comic book violence I alluded to earlier.

Skillshots are spent on weapon upgrades and ammunition. You will be kept on your toes trying to find them all so you can progress your skills.

The game takes about 8 hours to complete if you are taking your time. There is a mode called echoes where you play short sections of each chapter in an attempt to accumulate the most points in the shortest amount of time. Also there is a multiplayer mode which I cannot comment on as I have not tried it.

I love this game, its loud, fun , ridiculous, and very over the top with everything. What I have not mentioned is the aesthetics. It has some of the best graphics I have seen in a shooter to date. The world of Stygia is a beautiful destroyed paradise, the lighting and effects are excellent when you do get a few moments from the onslaught to appreciate it. Which you rarely will. The music is top quality, with orchestral overtures and rising crescendos what suit the actions.

You must buy this , for all the reasons above and what is about to follow.

 

A brief interlude, of sorts.

First, there are things that I will not engage in a discussion with people on. I am sorry, but I am an a very opiniated ass on these points. 

1. Old game remakes:Nostalgia

For those who re-make old games to cash in on nostalgia , you are wrong. gaming was not better in the old days. Its better now. I have taken my nostalgia tablets. I am immune.

2. Games as Art.

Stop this debate now. It’s silly, if we are still trying to claim games are art then we are still trying to desperately to become accepted via a proxy. Game sell. Billions of dollars are made every year. Games are Games. Please feel free to flame me out in the comments.

 

So…..

 

I interrupt this public service broadcast to being an urgent announcement. Or at least to get some stuff off my chest that has been troubling me. I think know we need to buy more games like this. There was a long period of gaming where there were more games like Bulletstorm. But more and more , as the accusation of games as art and art as games did the rounds in the , well, for want of a better word “press”, the reason we create these expensive titles and expensive consoles is getting lost.

Don’t get me wrong , I am not going on a high horse rant about the state of gaming , or the industry , or violence in games etc. I am worried we are treating this generation of technology as a platform for realism. And I am not just talking about realistic graphics and sound and all that comes with it, I think we are forgetting that video games and computers can create new worlds. Not emulate this one. I am tired of seeing gamers flock to the store and give their money to Grand Theft Horsie 8:Horse Outside, Call of Warfare:Latest Foreigner killing Duty 15 , or titles like this. As we do this we say , yes, we want more games that are like the real world things that we would never want to participate in. Do we want the realism of driving to work every day to be reflected in the latest car game ? I dont think so, bet this might be there we are going if we keep voting for these kind of titles with our wallet.

I say NO! we need more games like Bayonetta, Worms, Bulletstorm, Mass Effect, Limbo, Portal, Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit and Streetfighter 4. Completely fantastical and over the top gaming experiences. We need to give our money there, because as Casual games like Peggle and Angry Birds become more prevalent, our beloved publishers might stop throwing money at large titles unless its a Modern Warfare clone and ditch the arcade experience games altogether. Why? Realism and casual sells , fantastical things do not.

I want more imaginiation, more over the top arcade fun , and , well, just more fun in my games. so, if you are a shooter fan, buy Bulletstorm, its a wallet vote for more fantastical and imaginative  games of this sort.

Rob

 

Oh.. and they do a great piss take of the deep story trailers that accompany the Halo Franchise. I like the Halo marketing stuff, but I appreciate the humour and work that went into this.

Halo Parody, and Irish drinking session in the Sci-Fi future.
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