Epic Games knew what it was doing when it decided to pack Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta access into retail copies of People Can Fly’s upcoming shooter, Bulletstorm -- it was trying to get your attention.
It worked in the case of 21-year-old David Walker Jr., who hadn’t become interested in the foul-mouthed, over-the-top shooter until he learned he’d be able to hop on the Gears 3 beta train. It was enough to get him downloading the demo for the game as soon as it hit Xbox Live Marketplace just one week ago.
The demo, a taste of the game’s “Echoes” mode -- which tasks players with racking up high scores by thinking of creative kills -- has been played by at least half a million people on Xbox Live alone (based on the number of leaderboard scores). The Reading, PA-based Walker Jr. is now among the demo’s top players, besting even the ranks of some of the game’s developers, who have been playing this particular slice of Bulletstorm for months.
I caught up with Walker Jr., now essentially one of the “baddest motherf**kers in motherf**k town,” to see how he could help give you the edge on the Bulletstorm demo leaderboards.
Practice makes perfect, “dicktits”
“My first score was a pathetic 4,000,” Walker tells me, a score almost any gamer could achieve by playing the demo like a typical first-person shooter.
According to Walker, social gaming website Raptr -- which tracks things like playtime and game Achievements -- clocks him at putting a preposterous 39 hours into the demo. For Walker, that means that topping the Bulletstorm demo leaderboards was nearly a full-time job over the past week. And at four minutes per average run, it means he’s played the demo approximately 585 times.
“However, I restarted a shit-ton of times,” he adds. “So, probably near 1,000, if not over.”
Point: don’t get discouraged if your first run doesn’t quite stand up, even on your personal friends leaderboard. You don’t have to put in 39 hours, but patience and perseverance will go a long way towards becoming the baddest motherfucker among your Xbox Live or PlayStation Network friends.
Take your time, hurry up
Keep moving -- you’ll get a nice time bonus at the end of the “Echo,” and it could put you over the top. Sliding when possible (double-tapping A on the Xbox 360, or X on the PlayStation 3) can shave precious seconds off your run.
But not so fast, sparky -- this isn’t your average shooter. Sure, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to run through the environment, sliding, shooting, and kicking enemies haphazardly all over the place. That might make you feel like a total badass, but slow things down a bit and put a little bit more thought into how you’re going to kill your enemies. The game’s designed to give you plenty of opportunities to maneuver around enemies, setting them up for some of gaming’s most sadistic kills.
Walker Jr. is already an avid Call of Duty and Gears of War player, and he agrees that skills from those games can translate to Bulletstorm, but only to a point. Many of the game’s kill types require precise shooting, like the “Surgeon” -- where you shoot off an enemy’s arm with the “Screamer” weapon, for instance.
“Bulletstorm is a whole new type of game, though,” Walker Jr. insists, “so a lot of [the skills] from those other games don’t make a whole lot of difference, I think.”
Become one with the demo’s dozens of Skillshots
“‘Mercy’ shot is key,” Walker Jr. tells me, referring to the good ol’ shoot-’em-in-the-groin-then-shoot-’em-in-the-head trick, invented by Richard “Pew Pew” McNutshots in the late 1100s. (Note: Name and date probably not historically accurate. Maybe.)
But since Skillshots become worth fewer points after the first time you use them, you’re encouraged to mix it up. Keep in mind that every weapon and its alternate fire can yield different, barbarous results, so swap out often.
You’ll have a hell of a good time discovering callous ways to kill on your own, just by playing the demo a few times. But if you want to skip to the good stuff, you’ll find plenty of Skillshot lists compiled online by GameFAQs and Epic Games forum posters. The final game will also ship with a handy in-game list of Skillshots, just so you don’t miss out on any of the carnage.
Warning: Exposed wires, rusty spikes, bottomless pits and other miserable shit your mother warned you about ahead
Stygia, the former luxury vacation spot that serves as the demo’s setting, is a cruel safety inspector’s wet dream -- use that to your advantage.
Have you considered kicking an enemy into an electric hazard for the game’s “Shocker” kill, and an easy 500 points? Head down the first tunnel/ramp in the demo, and just outside on the right wall there’s a tangle of electrified wires that’s easy to miss.
Keep your eyes peeled for holes or rusty spikes that your enemies might, uh, accidentally fall into.
Skillshots go together like like peanut butter and jelly, except the peanut butter is flayed flesh and jelly is, well… you get the idea
Creative use of Skillshots and even combinations of Skillshots are the key to high scores. As an example, Walker Jr. points to one area where players encounter an enemy on a mini-gun, and one of the game’s green, maniacal punks, simultaneously.
“After you shoot the guy off the mini gun with a flail, don’t kill the green guy,” he suggests. “Let him chase you around until all of the guys bunch up on the train tracks [up ahead]. Then, shoot his head off while he’s real close [to you] and you’ll become infected.”
What this does is infect you, covering the screen in a haze of green, and giving you a “Toxic Love” Skillshot kill bonus. Next, you’ll want to fire off a flare into the group of enemies bunched up on the tracks. Once they’re on fire, use the electric whip’s “Thumper” ability for massive points.
“For that part, it seems to work better if you let the guys stand up while they are on fire before using ‘Thumper,’” he suggests. “I seem to get the 6x multiplier more often that way.”
Monkey see, monkey do
The best way to rack up a high score might just be to do exactly what Walker Jr. does. He’s posted to YouTube a video walkthrough of one of his runs, along with some helpful commentary.
At the time of writing, Walker Jr. is ranked third on the Xbox Live leaderboards, with a top score of 22,395. He says he finds playing the Xbox 360 version of the demo easier than the PlayStation 3 demo, even though they’re identical, mostly because he finds the DualShock “too lightweight and small.” That hasn’t stopped him from hitting the upper echelon of the PSN leaderboards, though -- he’s ranked 14th with a 20,000 score on Sony’s console.
When the full game drops to retail on February 22, keep an eye out for Walker. Jr on the leaderboards: Xbox Live Gamertag "Electissimus."
“I had the game pre-ordered [for the Gears 3 beta] for some time, but didn’t know if I was really going to play it,” he says. But that’s changed, as he says the Bulletstorm “demo is the most fun I have had in a while.”
“The pure fun and creativity of it all is just amazing!” he says. “Shout out to Epic Games and People Can Fly for making an amazing game so far. Can’t wait to get my hands on the full game!”
Bulletstorm hits shelves on February 22.