Bulletstorm is more than just the testosterone-laden frat-boy shooter it looks like on the surface.
When I saw Bulletstorm at EA's press conference, my first thought was that it was a shooter made by frat boys. With dialog like "You nearly scared my dick off!" and points awarded for nut shots, it seemed pretty gleefully awash in testosterone, but according to creative director Adrian Chmielarz, there's far more to it than that.
"People will be surprised by the relationship between the two main characters," he told me. "It's more than just hero and sidekick." He was reluctant to share many details about the plot lest he give away spoilers, but he did say that "high adventure" is at the core of the game, not crotch shots. "There needs to be emotional context for what's happening," he explained.
What's happening is a whole lot of killing, but unlike most shooters, where the goal is simply to convert your enemies into worm food before they do the same to you, in Bulletstorm the object is to bring the pain as creatively as possible. Killing someone the ordinary way will net you a pathetic 10 points; what you really want to do is combine your offensive abilities in inventive ways. Kick an enemy onto a giant cactus or into an enormous flytrap. Grab them with your leash - an electrically-charged whip that pulls them towards you in slow motion - then shoot them in mid-air. Use your flail gun, which throws two grenades linked by a chain, to tie up one enemy, kick him into a buddy and then blow him up. Creative kills, called Skill Shots, net you more points, which unlocks new abilities, weapons, and skill shots, allowing you to score even higher and unlock more stuff. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Bulletstorm's cel-shaded graphics help fuel the goofy good time. A game that encourages you to delight in finding new and exciting ways to slay your enemies probably is better served steering well clear of realism. We only got to see a bit of the single-player, though there will be multiplayer as well, but it was still a stupid good time. It never takes itself too seriously, but is slick, inventive, and almost sure to get you giggling. Does it really have a story with surprising depth? I'm not sure it matters, really. Sometimes all you really need is to blow shit up, and Bulletstorm lets you do it with style.
Bulletstorm is scheduled for release on Feb. 22, 2011.
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