E3 2010: Bulletstorm Hands On Preview - Punching Outrageousness In The Face, Feb 2011

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"Kill with skill" may be a simple tagline on the face of it, but after going hands on with Bulletstorm at this year's E3, that short tagline speaks a thousand words. For years we've been subjected to the same realistic shooters where it doesn't matter how you kill, just the act of doing it will suffice. That's not such a bad thing, but when a shooter comes along like Bulletstorm and throws something new into the mix - or particularly old skool - then we stand up and pay attention. We're simple folk, truth be told, but sometimes we like to kick off our shoes and get a little bit lairy - that in a nutshell is Bulletstorm.

In our first impressions from pre-E3, it was clear that Bulletstorm was looking to add outrageous back into the word shooter - no, we don’t mean "shoooutrageouster," although that's rather an appropriately rad term – yes, I just said rad. We simply mean that every kill is a kill with so many opportunities. In essence, Bulletstorm is a game that will leave you disappointed if you just get a headshot. Just get a headshot? It’s not very often you’ll hear me say that.

The controls are relatively, no, scrap that, super easy to get to grips with and you'll be combining Bulletstorm’s tools of destruction in no time whatsoever: the "leash," the big boot and the game’s insane weapons. The game goes fairly easy on you to start with, throwing the odd enemy at you until you've grasped that you can leash them over, boot them up in the air and then shoot the crap out of them. A mere minutes into the opening level - which incidentally was the same one we saw at the pre-E3 showcase (although now it was now hands on) - and the game suddenly decides that it's pussy footed around enough and starts to throw enemies galore at you.

The environment plays a key part in Bulletstorm and actually could be referred to as a weapon itself. Whether you're kicking hotdog carts down the hill and shooting the gas canister, shooting a huge clock down from its tower or pinging your foes into the level’s cacti and deadly Venus Flytraps that litter the walkways. The People Can Fly/Epic guys on show promised a ton of variety throughout the game in terms of environmental help as well and if they can mix it up from start to finish, then the gameplay is surely going to appeal to anyone whose middle name is "crazy ass fun" - in other news, it sucks for you if that's your middle name.

Upgrading your powers and weapons will obviously play a key part in the final game when it ships. Merely upgrading the leash early on gave us access to the "leash overdrive" which instead of leashing one opponent over to you, actually leashes all the opponents in the vicinity of where you are aiming up into the air. If a barrel or an explosive item gets caught in the path of the leash, then it's your lucky day as a well placed bullet or two could blow the whole group into a thousand pieces. Instead of tapping the left shoulder button to use the leash, to activate the leash overdrive you simply only need to hold it down.

As much as the leash and the boot are integral gameplay mechanics, the insane weapons are just as much part of the game’s core - especially their upgraded forms. The upgraded flail gun for instance - a gun that fires a couple of grenades linked by a chain - actually heats the chain up so it cuts through your intended target. Do that and aim for a head shot, and you'll completely chop your enemy's head off. To be honest though, it's much more satisfying wrapping a non-upgraded flail shot around their head and then pulling the right trigger again to explode it. Games don't get much crazier and over-the-top than this.

Worried it might be a little too fast paced for you? Fear not, the leash actually places your opponent in some sort of time stasis so it'll give you time to line up a trick shot, or even better, re-position yourself so that you can boot the enemy wherever the hell you want. Re-positioning yourself to boot them onto a cactus and/or wrapping a grenade around their head, leashing them and kicking them into a crowd are all real possibilities.

The controls of Bulletstorm are what you expect from a first person shooter running on the Unreal engine and the action is fast and frenetic. Bulletstorm is bringing back the high-score to shooters and then sticking a stick of dynamite up its ass just for shits and giggles. Explosive fun is a decent way to describe Bulletstorm. Bat-shit crazy is probably a better way, and our first hands on with the title left us hankering for another go to try and beat our last score. 3,020 if you're interested, but we know we can do better.

Bulletstorm is punching outrageousness in the face this coming February 22nd in North America and February 25th in Europe.


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Game Info
Electronic Arts


US February 22, 2011
Europe February 25, 2011

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