Gore, Obscenities, and Generally a Good Time

On February 28, 2011

  • Kill with skill in Epic Games’s latest, Bulletstorm. Courtesy of Epic Games

It's brash, it's lewd and, most likely, it's not appropriate for nearly any age. EPIC Games' latest work, Bulletstorm, truly gives the ‘Mature' rating a new meaning.

With it's over-the-top violence and extremity related mutilations that designers artfully slipped in to every level, Bulletstorm raises the bar on how graphic a first-person shooter can be, but, overall, it does little to improve on the genre.

The story follows a group of renegade space pirates named ‘Dead Echo,' a once-upon-a-time group of confederate soldiers now seeking revenge on a general who has wronged them. Pirate captain Grayson Hunt, voiced by the incredibly talented Steve Blum, leads his compatriots on a mission that will ultimately lead to salvation or utter annihilation.

Early in the first act of the game, Hunt locates an energy leash, a confederate-sanctioned weapon that has the ability to rope, mangle and wreck nearly anything in its path. This devastating weapon is also equipped with an overhead heads-up display that rates the user's skill in the game, as well as their utilization of "Skillshots."

Skillshots are truly the bread and butter of the game. As the player traverses the cityscape of Elysium, the city's ruinous shell will provide ample space to interact with the world's jagged and deadly buildings. Skillshots include, but are not limited to, blowing off torsos of gang members, shooting opponents in the groin and then kicking their head-in, and shooting an armored enemy in the chest with a drill then kicking it in leading to explosive amounts of blood.

Each Skillshot achieved nets points to use on ammo, new weaponry and each weapon's alternative firing mode. On its hardest difficulty, Bulletstorm players will need to master such feats in order to have enough ammo to survive.

Each weapon in Bulletstorm's elegant arsenal feels both unique, in that no two guns work similarly, and powerful, so that perfectly executed headshots feel empowering each and every time. Up to three of these wicked killing machines can be equipped at once, along with the energy leash, which, when used in combination, unlock some of the game's more challenging Skillshot combinations.

Game developers EPIC Games and People Can Fly created a game that is easy to pick up and enjoy, but is near impossible to master. This gruesome package can be completed in ideally six-and-a-half hours, though time spent on the game's Echoes mode will vary drastically. "Echoes" is essentially Modern Warfare 2's Special Ops mode, which is a brief mission, similar to that of the campaign setting.

Adversely, Anarchy mode is more similar to Epic Game's previous hit, Gears of War staple, Horde mode. This run-of-the-mill enemy latent setting pits players against one another to see who is at the top of the murdering totem pole.

Bulletstorm's biggest pitfall is its online multiplayer mode. In a move that will have radical impacts throughout the gaming community, only new copies of the game will have an included multiplayer key. This means those who capitalize on a used game price, will be required to buy an online pass from the game's developer.

This move, while understandable from the developer's standpoint, is truly a disservice to those who want to buy games without their $60 price tag. The multiplayer, while strong, lacks content to keep players interested, and would easily make its additional price-tag a hang up for those interested in indulging in Bulletstorm's gory goodness.

Overall, the gameplay is entertaining at the most shallow of levels. Little to no depth invested in the game's multiplayer put the game's shelf life a little over the length of its campaign. With its impressive array of fatalities, hilariously scripted dialogue and perfect utilization of the classic "bullet-time" system, the game is good, but it still feels like it's shooting blanks in a world of high-powered warfare.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com

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