We're mere weeks away from the release of Bulletstorm, Epic's profanity-laden, Skillshot-fueled shooter courtesy of Polish developers, People Can Fly. And I, personally, cannot wait. I mean that quite literally; I won't. I'm actively pursuing options to book a flight to America, infiltrate Epic's building and snag a copy of Bulletstorm, fresh off the press.
As I put the final touches to this outlandishly brilliant plan - which includes dying my hair with streaks of blond, donning a Gears of War shirt and impersonating Cliffy B with witty quips - I thought it prudent to explain why I'm willing to go to such lengths for Bulletstorm. You see, I honestly feel like Epic's shooter is the best thing to happen to the FPS genre since Halo ushered in the new era. Allow me to explain...
Before I dive into the meat of my article - did I really just write that? - I'd like to comment on the 'tone' Epic has chosen for Bulletstorm. Throughout the game, you're likely to hear all manner of profane utterances, old and new, with a few makeshift neologisms thrown in for good measure. Bulletstorm is crass, it's childish, it's so earnestly striving to be inappropriate and thus noticed.
And I love it. You can pass judgment on that as you like; maybe I'm mentally deficient, my years viewing South Park and Family Guy rotting the very core of my brain so only politically incorrect satire and phallic and fecal references can grab my attention. Or maybe it's because, amid all the pompous, grim-faced tales of redemption and valor and all that crap, Bulletstorm realizes how inherently silly gameplay is in comparison to story; how you can't feasibly blend the two without accepting some plot-holes and reality paradoxes.
Bulletstorm knows it's stupid. It's about shooting mutants in the nether regions, then delivering a 300-style kick to their central mass and shooting them in the balls again. Call of Duty expects us to care about it's diabolical villians plotting nuclear holocausts when the central protagonist - you! - can soak up bullet after bullet and no end of self-indulgent monologues. It's supposed to be a realistic take on military warfare with appropriately grim and stern-voiced cutscenes, and yet you can wade into battle with a dozen heavily armed soldiers and escape without a scratch.
Bulletstorm might be obvious and irreverent, swearing with such merry abandon it's like stumbling on a band of prepubescent teenagers who just heard the word 'bitch', but at least this isn't at odds with the gameplay. Look no further than People Can Fly's expose on shocking truth behind all shooters.
Gagging For It
But where Bulletstorm really succeeds is with its Skillshot system. You can kill and slaughter in such an imaginative fashion I wouldn't be surprised if it birthed annual competitions where the best Bulletstormers(?) gather to see who can pull off the most insane combinations of testicle-pulverizing, limb-removing, cranium-shattering Skillshots.
It's hard, at first, to detach yourself from your usual methods; hiding behind cover, firing off a few rounds while staring down the barrel. But break free and see what happens. I was leashing mutants into the air to line up perfect headshots, wrapping flail-grenades around inbred necks and kicking them into a group of their mates before blowing them to kingdom come. It's dynamic, imaginative and supremely rewarding. Accidentally discovering new Skillshots, like when I kicked a mutant to pull off a Nutcracker, only to find I'd impaled him on a jagged line of bent girders, resulting in a Voodoo Doll, instead.
It's refreshing to see a developer not simply attempting to ape the mechanics of Halo or Call of Duty and hope to enjoy the financial run-off. Bulletstorm takes the genre's staples - being able to shoot, melee and target individual body-parts - and throws them into a giant bubbling cauldron of wacky ideas and outlandish theories. And this is the result. It's a genuine step forward for the FPS genre. While I'm not suggesting all games included a Skillshot system - that would be unnecessary and ultimately derail the concept - it's just nice to see a developer building on what a genre has to offer, rather than simply capitalizing on it.
What do you think about Bulletstorm? Is it good for the FPS genre, or is it a step back? Is the humor right down your street or could it not possibly be any further away? We want to know, so sign off below!