Bulletstorm at Eurogamer Expo 2010

Whips and kicking either tend to be a central theme in an Indiana Jones film or a kinky night in with a lady you have rented, but now they have made the transition into frantic first-person shooters with Bulletstorm. If you’ve ever wanted something that combined the high scoring trick mentality of a Tony Hawks game with the madcap action of Unreal tournament, this game might be for you.

I was removed from the game shortly after sitting down, as the console babysitter collared the guy who had just jumped off the stool, asking him if he wanted to view his score. The screen illuminated and displayed a score of around 2,500 points. Apparently this was average, but not something impressive. It needs to be punching the realms of the 4,000 mark to really leave an impression. Brilliant, I now had a benchmark to beat and target to attain. “I shall prove that I am better than the random stranger I will never meet again”, I chuffed to myself as I sat down to play.

After a quick flick over the controls I was dropped straight into the thick of it. The gamepad layout felt very familiar in my hands aside from the intriguing ‘leash’ command tied to the left shoulder button. Clicking on this sent a blue, whip like beam forward and dragged the targeted enemy right up close for a nice and personal kick in the face. This threw him straight into a man eating plant and the game informed me that I had done well. My first points acquired from a dastardly deed of violence, and certainly not my last.

Kicking and shooting: the essential elements for success in Bulletstorm

Trying to keep in mind that the game is about scoring points as much as blasting your way from A to B, I was very consciously attempting not to run and gun it like most other shooters encourage you to. This meant sliding into people, leashing them over towards me, kicking them in the head as they float upside down, and chasing them down with a stream of bullets.

When a character gets leashed or tackled in some way, their still very much alive body gracefully dangles in the air, as if caught in an isolated pocket of bullet time. This gives you a nice window to decide how sadistic you want to be, whether you want to fill them with hot smoking lead where they hover, or line up that perfect boot into the spiky, impalement friendly environment, a bit like how a footballer might aim for a sweet spot in the goal.

As well as delivering a good kick to a guy square in the goolies, many other things can receive the benefit of a good booting. For example, objects with the potential to explode can be utilised under foot and sent flying in the direction of a soon to be toasted baddie. Lining up the foot friendly projectiles could feel slightly fiddly at times, especially when trying to have it land squarely on the chin of a moving target. Shuffling inches left and right during a manic gun fight is not always the best route to self preservation.

The explosion was not received well by these folk

Ploughing through the man obstacles that stood in my way, I eventually stumbled upon a sub-boss character who did not respond with floaty terror to the leash attack. Instead, the leash connected with his armour and spun the foe round, leaving his naively exposed back open for an old fashioned bullet riddling.

Continuing the adventure from here led me through more murder point opportunities, sliding around under scenery and into what appeared to be a large open air garden centre. It was here that a massive boss character errupted from the ground, like a mole crossbred with a skyscraper, at which point the demo cut out. That run through was scored at 3,500 points, enough for me to feel smug towards the man whose face I could no longer remember, but not the golden 4,000 marks I was hoping for.

Bulletstorm definitely has something different to offer FPS fans and is shaping up to be a good game. My only real concern was how leash, kick and shoot was becoming a very familiar routine with little variation. I am sure that in the full game there will be many undesirable places for bad guys to end up kicked or leashed into, but if the developers are not careful, the repetition might set in an hour or so into play. With only one level to experience though, it is hard to know how drastically other environments will alter gameplay, but my guess is lots. The man eating plant traps were fun, but I’m sure there will be plenty of sheer drops and inexplicably placed spiked walls to propel screaming enemies toward in the full game when it is released next year on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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