There’s been a massive online presence in the run up to Bulletstorm’s launch and it’s all around the ‘kill with skill’ mechanic that supposedly changes the way you play a first-person shooter. Well, after playing it and completing it I’m happy to say that it is a very different FPS experience compared with say Killzone 3 which has you hiding behind cover for fear that if you step into gunfire you’ll instantly die.
You play as drunken space pirate Grayson Hunt who, along with his cyborg mate Ishi crash lands on a planet full of other miscreants and mutants. This not being Disneyland your mission is to save your skin and get off the planet before things turn really bad. The script and dialogue in the game can be taken one of two ways. You’ll either like the pulp b-movie nature of it all or think it’s just crass and childish. Sometimes it made me cringe but other times I couldn’t help laugh at some of the unique swears uttered by Gray and other protagonists.
So how does the kill with skill mechanic feel? Well, thanks to a leash that pulls bad guys towards you in suspended animation and rates your performance you can get points that you can then use to buy upgrades and new weapons that let you kill enemies in even more crazy ways. Just shooting someone dead gives you 10 points but pulling them towards you, kicking them away and launching a firework into their bottom is a lot more fun and gives you far more points. The game encourages you to be creative so as long as you keep moving and only take cover when the screen goes red and tells you to dodge bullets, you can happily go about experimenting in your new sadistic playground.
The main story isn’t especially long but there are reasons to play again to find all the bottles of alcohol and newsbots scattered about the levels and to try and get all those skillshots listed in the menus. You can also play online in co-op mode to rack up some high scores and compare your scores with others online in short scenarios from the main game in a mode called Echoes.
This is also one of the most fluid FPSs I’ve played in a while. Walking and moving about feels right and weapons are suitable meaty when fired. You can also slide across levels Vanquish style but I’m not sure about the run mechanic borrowed from Gears of War. Why hold down X and swap movement to the left stick when clicking LS is now seen as the comfortable norm? Also it’s strange you can’t use toggle to crouch and must hold down a button, again sacrificing some control when you want to take advantage of low cover.
I also don’t know if it’s just my PS3 on the blink but there’s a hell of a lot of slowdown over the last few levels when lots is going on and even some glitches. At one point an enemy was walking about in mid-air and Ishi floated into some crates and sort of did a weird leaning thing that was definitely a bug.
Just like Grayson himself, Bulletstorm’s a little rough around the edges but a lot of fun to play. Just don’t give it a spin in front of your Nan. It gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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