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People Can Fly are best known for the Painkiller series that features a decent story, settled nicely on top of balls to the wall action and zany guns...Bulletstorm fits this description as well, but is it a hell of a good time like Painkiller, or is there hell to pay?
Bulletstorm (Xbox 360) Developer: People Can Fly, Epic Games Publisher: Electronic Arts Released: February 22, 2011 MSRP: $59.99
Bulletstorm is an FPS centered around killing enemies in creative, gruesome and hilarious ways to earn points which can be used to upgrade a plethora of original weaponry all whilst the main character, Grayson Hunt, is coming up with new swear words...while drunk.
Players control Grayson Hunt, an alcoholic fugitive space pirate with a crew who seems to hate him. Prior to being a fugitive space pirate, Grayson and crew had worked for General Serano (a cross between R. Lee Ermey and Hitler) as a group of assassins killing mass murders, terrorists and all around evil doers...or so they were told. On their last hit they discover that they had actually been killing reporters and innocent people to hide their governments evil doings from the public. From this moment on Grayson's only goal in life is to kill General Serano, even if it means killing a few thousand innocent people on the way.
A majority of the story follows Grayson and his cyborg buddy, Ishi, as they attempt to get off the planet Stygia they crash landed on after attacking General Serano's ship. Stygia is in the middle of a gang war, and neither gang cares for visitors nor do the man eating plants and mutants that also inhabit the planet.
The gameplay is not just about killing enemies to get from point A to B, but about how you kill enemies while going from point A to B. For example, near the start of the game you will have your standard run of the mill machine gun, that you can use to pummel enemies to death with bullets or even blow their heads off, but why would you want to do that when you could shoot your enemies in the balls and then when they cower in pain you kick their heads off!? While Gears of War brought out some of the old ultra-violence, Bulletstorm perfected it.
Throughout the game you will find yourself using a 'leash' device to pull enemies and objects towards you and into the air in slow motion, at which point you will have to decide if you are going to either kick them, generally towards deadly environmental objects, shoot them to death with a variety of weapons which include two forms of firing, or a combination of the two. Once you decide and execute your murder method of the moment, you will be awarded points based on style, which can be used to buy ammo, upgrade weapons and unlock secondary fire for each weapon.
While the game gives you a multitude of ways to kill enemies it seems to get a bit lazy at times, letting you repeatedly kick lines of enemies into near by spikes, killing them instantly with little to no skill, even when playing on very hard mode...which is nothing of the sorts. The first half of the game nearly requires you to be creative as the points you earn are used for ammo and ammo is scarce. Later on in the game you will find yourself killing enemies in the easiest way possible and ammo flowing from your dead enemies, giving you no real incentive to keep being the Mozart of murder.
Cutscenes will help keep you interested and attached to the characters you come into contact on your journey for revenge, and never feel long or drawn out. The voice acting is top notch, the writing is witty and hilarious and you will find yourself just waiting for the next one liner to come out of a character's mouth, such as 'murder boner' for example.
Levels play out vary linear, but are set in giant, colorful set pieces unlike any other FPS on the market in the past few years. Characters in the game will even point out how beautiful the scenery is around them and you will often find your jaw on the floor as you enter an area to find a colossal city or ship that looks as if it had been created by a modern day Picasso. While the graphics and levels are beautiful and colorful, they never distract you from the game and only enhance it's playability. The same can be said about the music, as it is never overpowering, but is easily as good as any of the Halo soundtracks.
Other than campaign mode there is a single player "Echoes" mode that has you rushing through small segments of the campaign with a time limit, with the goal being to rack up the highest score in the shortest amount of time possible. There are a limited number of these Echoes to play, and they serve no real purpose other than bragging rights on leaderboards. Echoes feels tacked on to add longevity or re-playability to the game, but actually doesn't really add anything other than leaderboards and a timer at the top of the screen.
Anarchy is the only multiplayer mode (why not just call it Multiplayer Mode?) which lets you and three others go through wave after wave of enemies where the goal is to reach a par score by killing them in the most creative, gruesome ways possible. Between each wave you are given a results screen where you are compared to the other players in your game, so you can see who is killing with style and who is just mashing buttons. At the start of each wave you can use your points earned to buy ammo, unlock guns and buy secondary charged shots, allowing you to make even more creative kills. While the multiplayer is fun with friends who want to work together, random players online seem to just mash buttons and kill everything as fast as they can, which causes you to repeat the round over and over until you hit the par score. Having the only mutliplayer mode being focused purely on teamwork feels like a bad decision, especially with no co-op campaign to speak of, as the developers are assuming you will easily transition from "kill everything that moves" mode to "I like to share kills" mode. Most matches just turn into everyone leashing enemies away from each other, and kicking them into nearby traps. In other words, it's about as fun as a game of tug of war only with less rope and more blood.
Bulletstorm may have a few minor problems, such as the tacked on Echoes mode and multiplayer that requires strong team work (read: friends), but is one of the best single player campaigns in an FPS that has released in a long time. Easily recommendable for FPS fans, especially if you enjoy a hilarious journey mixed with some good swearing and a giant helping of boots to the face. On the other hand, if you are looking for the next great multiplayer experience, look elsewhere, or at least until the sequel comes out.
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)