First Impressions: Bulletstorm

Out of all the games previewed here, _Bulletstorm_ is the one you’re least likely to have heard of. Although not a sequel, it does have some pedigree behind it; Epic Games, the studio behind the extremely successful _Gears of War_ franchise, own a majority stake in Bulletstorm’s developers, People Can Fly. So obviously _Bulletstorm_ runs on the Unreal engine, giving it that distinct _Gears of War_ or _Unreal Tournament_ look but, while _Gears_ uses about two colours throughout the entirety of the franchise, _Bulletstorm_ was saturated with vivid and varied shades of red, green and blue. It simply looked fantastic and ran exceptionally well, with an impressive framerate already. This is a major achievement for a game that won’t be out for another five months and therefore still has plenty of time to get even prettier.

It wasn’t the visuals that made this my game of the show though, it was the combat. By combining a number of unique gameplay mechanics and implementing a “Skillshots” system, People Can Fly have created what looks to be one of the most fun and entertaining first person shooters to be released in a long, long time.

The game, although story driven, is based around killing people in creative and interesting ways, resulting in points that rack up over the course of the level. This is accomplished by use of what can only be described as an energy leash, a button to do a high kick, and some powerful and dynamic secondary fires for the all of weapons. This might sound confusing, and it was at first, but after a while playing I soon got the hang of it; in no time I was using the leash to pull my enemies close to me, which then causes them alone to float through the air in slow-mo, kicking them away from me again and obliterating them with the rifle’s charged-up secondary fire. This was all extremely satisfying and just straight up fun.

Through playing well and racking up points from creative kills you’ll be able to upgrade many of the range of weapons on offer. For example, the super powerful secondary fires for the rifle and close range shotgun both had to be unlocked before they could be used. This sort of progression is always welcome, adding another reason to presumably play through _Bulletstorm_ again.

The level on show contained a lot of other worldly florae which could also be used to the players advantage; leashing enemies in, it was then possible to kick them into the giant cacti or many other environmental obstacles dotted around the level. There were also a number of movement mechanics, such as a slide, that felt very reminiscent of _Gears of War_ and added a fluidity to the movement that so many first person shooters lack. The demo ended with a tease of a massive, plant-like boss. Unfortunately the game faded to black before the combat started but it did offer a glimpse of the scale that _Bulletstorm_ will offer; it short, this looks to be massive.

This game is definitely not for the squeamish. Within seconds I was beheading enemies, turning them into nothing but bones and generally causing graphic destruction left, right and centre. The art style, with it’s vivid colour palette, doesn’t make the game’s gory nature too overpowering, instead giving it more of a detacted comic book feel, similar to the Spartan romp 300.

_Bulletstorm_ should be a bloody awesome game come February next year. Offering so much unadulterated, pure entertainment in a demo five months before released, it’s hard to see how the full game could be anything other than incredible. If the story’s there to back up the gameplay and the levels are varied enough for the combat to not stagnate, _Bulletstorm_ will no doubt be one of the best games of next year. Definitely keep this one on your radar.

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