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Bulletstorm out-bravados even Gears of War, before moving into Brutal Legend lampooning territory. Being such an odd mix makes its success all the more impressive. Well judged both in style and delivery, here we find technique and character in equal complements.
The initial advertising for Bulletstorm bravely took on the Goliath of Call of Duty. The campaign challenged all gamers to question whether there could be more to first person shooters.
Playing the game it is soon clear that this is no David armed only with a slingshot. This is David on his day off, when he plays thrash guitar in a death metal band and arrives at gigs on a massive Harley Davidson (ed: Eddie would be proud). He may, when the occasion arises, issue the odd expletive too.
It's built on the now ubiquitous Unreal engine from Epic Games that means although it has some great graphic design it looks not too dissimilar to other games on the engine. The real technical skill here is that the bravado genuinely separates Bulletstorm from the pack. The characters are collections of scars and extreme haircuts.
Some amazing wide open vistas pepper the experience. Although they are technically sky-boxed corridors Bulletstorm manages to deliver a relatively free roaming feel to the experience.
You can play it like a normal FPS, pick a gun and keep shooting, but to do it justice you need to delve into the world of skill kills. Rather than bullets, you kick, whip and head butt each henchman into oblivion.
It's a fascinating twist that turns a straight up shooter almost into a puzzle game.
If you get swept up in it like I was you'll find yourself looking at the enemies around you and pondering the most stylish way to deal with them. Armed with guns, a heavy booted melee foot and a long range whip leash, you are encouraged to bounce the bad guys around the scenery.
It's a fascinating twist that turns a straight up shooter almost into a puzzle game. I turned into a crazed modern artist throwing the physics based rag-dolls around like the contents of cans of paint onto a canvas.
A hi-tech leash drags enemies in towards you; a swift kick sends their fast arriving body hurtling towards a well. The resulting splat placed the Graffiti achievement on my profile. And there are hundreds of combinations like this hidden away to ready to be discovered.
The language was always going to get Bulletstorm into trouble in some quarters, but it's there for a reason. The game matches its technically proficient killing with dialogue and characters that are equally distasteful but also equally enjoyable. I found it was in context and suited the style perfectly with none of the malicious overtones found elsewhere. The 18 certificate is certainly warranted though
Perhaps most impressive is the amount of visual grunt they extract to create some truly humongous monsters and set pieces. Here, the lineage and power of the Unreal graphics engine excels. It can move an impressive hunk of game elements around while retaining its graphical integrity.
Dialogue and characters are equally distasteful but also equally enjoyable.
This is rounded off with an online co-operative mode that takes multiple players through the campaign levels together. Some have said they missed a proper multiplayer mode, but for me this wasn't a big issue. My main gripe with Bulletstorm is that for all its brash genre breaking claims it takes ages to play through the training. These plot lines flashbacks explain why you find yourself in your current predicament and just labours the point far too long.
Far better would have been to throw us in at the deep end, give us the gear and let us discover our inner artist. If this is David's thrash metal opus, don't begin with a power ballad.
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