Preview

Bulletstorm Preview (Xbox360)

What did you expect from a collaboration between Painkiller creators People Can Fly and Gears of War overlords, Epic Games? A cerebral puzzler? An artsy platformer? Or a balls-to-the-wall shooter that could potentially be the most frenetic, pyrotechnic example of the genre yet? Bulletstorm might be the most headache-inducing FPS we've ever laid eyes on, but it looks as though it'll be a real blast to play.

At Bulletstorm's core is a remarkable setting in Elysium: an environment filled with carnivorous plants just ripe for destruction. You are a musclebound gardener in effect, pruning enormous lashing vines and pulsating pods with a liberal spray of bullets. Weed killer be damned, swathes of lead are the best solution for trimming back hostile greenery it seems, as we're shown during a demonstration of the game at a recent EA press event. Hundreds of eyes are glued to the screen as People Can Fly's Creative Director, Adrian Chmielarz takes us through a consistently loud and bombastic chunk of the appropriately named Bulletstorm, where one-liners zing at the same speed as the bullets. Whether the story – penned by comic book scribe Rick Remender – can rise above the relatively juvenile dialogue, remains to be seen, but apparently Bulletstorm's narrative will be “epic”.

Grayson Hunt and his cyborg comrade Ishi Sato face up to a hungry plant. Bit of weed killer will sort that, surely?

Man-eating plants that make triffids like harmless daisies are joined by bulky mercenaries, who provide additional fleshy targets to shoot at and kick into meaty chunks. Bulletstorm has no pretences in exactly what it is that it's setting out to achieve. That is a technicoloured shooting gallery packed to the rafters with gratuitous kills and delightfully cheesy repartee. It's an 80's action movie meets Gardening Time, throwing up plentiful opportunities for mixing it up with your methods of dispatching enemies.

Cacophonous, meaty gunplay is complemented by a powerful boot that catapults bad guys towards the horizon or into the waiting jaws of a giant flytrap. Bulletstorm's meat-head hero, Grayson Hunt is every bit the archetypal macho man hero, dealing out lead-flavoured death and a size 12 (a guess – we didn't check, to be honest) to the face of anyone foolhardy enough to enter his circle of terror. Keeping all of this testosterone in check is Hunt's unnamed slinky female sidekick who trades Edam-tinged quips and sexual innuendo with the gung-ho protagonist as the duo engage in gory, unrestrained shootery. Hunt's cyborg buddy Ishi Sato also gets in on the act, although Bulletstorm is still being placed very much in the single-player camp, despite the clearly evident potential for co-op.

Hunt's electric tether gives you ample opportunity to keep a kill combo going and lets you mix things up

'Kill With Skill' is Bulletstorm's big gameplay concept, which heaps on even more flashy OTT mayhem, as creative kills are rewarded with reams of points and an brassy, unsubtle caption. Combine the inventive killstreaks and you'll rack up hundreds of points in a matter of seconds. Shoot an enemy through the neck for instance and you'll have 'Gag Reflex +50' pop up, which you might then choose to follow with a 'Headshot' for another 50 points, or really go to town and turn an attacking merc into a twitching bag of giblets with a 100 point 'Overkill'. Or perhaps you'd prefer to flambé your foes for an 'Afterburner' or shoot him in the nuts and then the head for a 'Mercy' kill. Combine several skillshots and you'll really rake in the high scores and potentially build up some huge combos.

If things get really hairy, Hunt can slide around like an oiled up snake on a soapy slip-and-slide, while firing off round after round from a massive assault rifle. Or he can grab enemies with his whip-like energy tether, reel them in and kick them onto the spines of a cactus ('Bad Touch' – Bam! 50 points). Combing these moves looks like great fun, and although being able to perform unstoppable sliding manoeuvres looks a bit silly, it's perfectly in keeping with Bulletstorm's overblown modus operandi. Besides, it's another option at your disposal, enabling you to trip up bad guys, leaving them open for a kicking, a whipping or a consignment of lead.

Bulletstorm's melee kicks are suitably over-the-top. Hunt could probably kick a man to the moon if he aimed skyward

As our demo lead by Chmielarz draws to a close, Hunt and his sassy lady friend come up against an enormous, boss-sized plant creature. Semi-mobile on its roots and tendrils, it lifts itself and turns, snapping at Hunt with its gaping maw. “Nuke those tentacles!” shouts Hunt. “You did say 'tentacles', right?” comes the riposte. With the electric blue whip, Hunt lashes at swelling yellow pustules on the monster's underbelly, tearing them away like fleshy scabs in big bursts of glistening blood. Like everything we've seen before it, the boss battle is frenetic, visually impressive and packed with wanton carnage. In short, it looks bloody stunning, if you'll excuse the hyperbole.

Bulletstorm is looking remarkably fast-paced and every bit the adrenaline-fuelled FPS you'd hope to see from Epic and People Can Fly. With its bright colours and menagerie of toothsome, hostile flora, Bulletstorm should be immense fun to play, but as ever, the real proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Elysium is an interesting change of pace from the rusty, decaying urban sprawl seen in so many other shooters, and we can't wait to get our hands on the game to really get stuck into that 'kill with skill' mechanic, which should make for a perfect storm.

Bulletstorm will be running and gunning in 2011.

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Comments

By noobst3R (SI Core) on Jun 15, 2010
noobst3R
I think it's way much over the top.
By BoneArc (SI Elite) on Aug 07, 2010
BoneArc
its supposed to be an Arcade style " GET THE MOST POINTS " game but trying to be a REAL title . so its like a CoD / Mirror's Edge with the old High score Function .
but you get to have a WHip , YAY
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 07, 2010
Wowerine
Remember the game The Club - same concept just first person. Probably there will be more playable characters and the plot will be missing :) That's what you get with arcade style. There is a lot of action that makes up for the missing story tough :)