Game Writer Roundup: Bulletstorm

Bulletstorm Isn’t Brainless – Surprise!

game-writer-roundup-bulletstormYour game writer tip today is to check out Bulletstorm — not much press coverage, but a really tight little action shooter with finely tuned gameplay, good characters, unique weapons, funny action segments (including one where you get to drive a giant mechanical dino through a level and smash the attitude outta the bad guys), and a slick stylish storyline. The level design on this thing is quite delicious.

It’s nice to see a game take some risks, and Bulletstorm definitely does that. It’s a new property and new protagonist. The game introduces both a leash that you use to yank around enemies, objects, and explosives, plus a kick that engages a bit of a bullet-time effect that can be used to juggle enemies and create extra carnage. Last but not least, the game introduces a system that rewards you for stylish and/or outlandish kills; thus the moniker “Kill with Skill.” The conceit is that the planet was once set up as training ground for elite troopers, and those systems are now rewarding you with addictive weapon upgrades and teasing you with kill objectives.

The slogan “Kill with Skill” was a bit of a turnoff for me, actually. I’m not big on gore. If a game advertises itself as “over the top” or “in your face,” I’m not interested. Games that spray the screen with blood annoy me because I’m trying to excel, not revel in violence. But Bulletstorm hits that sweet spot of brash action and neurotically-tuned gaming mechanics.

Bulletstorm’s short but has some cool online multiplayer options too. I never was entirely sure how much Cliff Bleszinski really contributed when he first hit the scene — I like Unreal but Gears of War is not one of my favorite shooters — but as design director for Epic, he surely was behind some of the refreshing zing in Bulletstorm. Nice job, guys. Best, most addictive shooter I’ve played in a loooong time.

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