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Bulletstorm 360 Review

10/01/2011 Family Family Gamer Review
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Bulletstorm 360





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Bulletstorm is the perfect juvenile mix of kills, locker room humour and gore. Sure, there are more interesting and important games for grownups this year but the sheer youthful exuberance on display here is inspiring.

Bulletstorm is a mess, but that's kind of the idea. It's made by People Can Fly (the developers who brought Gears of War to the PC) and has the same sense of absolute carnage. The plot maybe hokum but, again, that's not what's important here.

This is a game that feeds on the excitement of the spectacle it can create. No holds barred is not an unusual thing to say about a game, but Bulletstorm takes this to a new level. Anything that will add to the impact of its visceral depiction of violence gets thrown at the player. The brakes are off, and we get a glimpse of where these sorts of videogames are headed.

Huge lumbering guns, deadly kicks and powerful slides equip you to cope with the assailants thrown at you from the off, and used in combination they become an impressive cocktail. An energy whip is used to yanks enemies towards you, as they fly in you can kick them back to where they came from before finishing them with a head shot. Time these moves well and you rack up multipliers and bonuses.

In gameplay terms it feels more like a dance than a fight, as you juggle enemies with the different attacks. Elements of Street Fighter blend with the variety of Bioshock's first person attacks to make how you kill enemies as important as if you kill them.

Weapons are upgraded as you progress, and new ways to dispatch your prey are slowly unlocked. Of note is the Bouncer gun that shoots spinning spheres to incapacitate enemies - enabling you to get close enough to dispatch them with a mercy kill for additional bonus points.

Visually though, you need a strong stomach to enjoy this. Blood and gore soon cover environments, enemies and your character. It's a Tarantino celebration replete with fountains of blood, gaping necks and leaking tattered limbs.

Perhaps it was because I'd only had an hour with it before relinquishing control of the TV to my wife's house improvement show needs.

Like Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs, there is a beauty to all this violence. As the metropolis rushes by with neo-classical architecture and translucent atriums it feels like the setting for a grand Greek saga - but here proceedings are more tongue in cheek than tragedy.

Through these cityscapes grow indigenous plant life that has taken on monstrous proportions. As you battle the alien-like plant sacks and Triffid tendrils the sense of encountering something ominously threatening permeates each encounter. These fights crescendo with boss battles that have you grappling plants every bit as big and threatening as Colossi.

The unfettered rush into the unthinking world of Bulletstorm is completed with the torrent of base dialogue between the two characters that would make Army of Two's Salem and Rios blush a little. If any sensitive souls made it through the initial bloody battles, it may be a bit rich for them.

It is chaotic and confusing, but somehow it comes together to form a cohesive whole that is undoubtedly enjoyable. Bulletstorm is an exercise in violence that simply extrapolates what has gone before - it paints a perfect picture of where all these games are heading.

As long as you can go with the bravado, and are of consenting age, you will be OK. But engage too deeply with what you are seeing and it can become a bit disturbing. Bulletstorm sensibly ducks the earnest nature of military sims in dealing with its horrors, instead it reaches for the overblown comedy of Duke Nukem and Max Payne. And this certainly works up to a point.

Some will say Bulletstorm is offensive, damaging or even evil.

Some will say Bulletstorm is offensive, damaging or even evil, but this is actually giving it a little too much credit. Bulletstorm is a highly enjoyable game that uses over the top violence and sexual references to sculpt a world where the juvenile is king. Kill-porn maybe, but it's the importance granted to this experiences that is the more unsettling.

People Can Fly is a beautifully intriguing name for a development studio that speaks to me about the heights humankind can reach. I suspect that it reflects ambitions to create experiences that supercede Bulletstorm in all sorts of unimaginable ways. If what comes next can match Bulletstorm's energy, passion and sheer playable enjoyment we are in for a real treat.

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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