Sent this to KillScreen a while back as an audition piece; they told me to go screw. Figure that with the recent addition of the excellent Bulletstorm to the PS+ free games list, I might as well post it somewhere.
Here is one thing you need to know about Bulletstorm: it features a quadruple-barrelled shotgun that fires atomising heat-rays. The designers looked at the standard double-barrelled shotgun and said, “No: this is not enough. This is less than half of what we need.”
That unabashed, balls-out approach to design has done the game wonders: no dials are turned down below 11. Nothing is said when it can be shouted. It provides visceral brainless shots of satisfactory feedback with almost mechanical precision.
Every time it feels as though you might be able to improve your life and peel yourself away from the gore-splattered murderplay in front of you, some minor detail (an attacker propelled into a giant carnivorous plant, a sniper bullet you can steer into a man’s neck after you’ve pulled the trigger, a revolver that shoots colourful and deadly fireworks) pushes you down into the sofa and makes you continue.
There’s a plot, of sorts; it’s there to offer a service almost entirely akin to the old-fashioned scenario of a washing machine repairman visiting a bored housewife, resulting in uglies gettin’ bumped. And appropriately so, because Bulletstorm operates much on the same level as pornography: it is the sort of game your mother, regardless of your age, would not want you to play.
ALL SIZZLE AND SPASM
But the core mechanic – Kill with Skill – gives an instinctive thrill like twisting virgin bubble-wrap in clenched fists. Shooting a bad guy in the chest until they fall over is worthless; shooting them in the head earns you points, which you can spend on guns, upgrades, and ammunition which are all, of course, required to shoot folk in the head.
It is, however, worth even more points to boot the unfortunate square in the ‘nads and – whilst they’re in mid-air, mind you – blast them into a nearby electronic advertising billboard which fries them, all sizzle and spasm. Or swig from a handily-placed bottle of hooch and blurrily melt the face off a whole group of baddies, earning a stack of multipliers from concurrent kills, use of the face-burner upgrade, and drunkenness. Or one of any other two hundred or so combinations of creative murder.
Bulletstorm is as fascinating, engaging, shameful and transitory as covertly glancing at someone you fancy on public transport and almost as much fun.