Bulletstorm hands-on preview: Now THIS is combat evolved

In terms of concept, execution, accessibilityand outlandishness, Bulletstorm is exactly what the bright, brash and beautiful games of the early‘90s would have evolved into if we hadn’tbecome so damn serious in the years between then and now.

You have an electric tether whip with seemingly infinite range. You have a weapon-set from Heaven. You’re fast, agile, and you can kick a man 20 feet without even blinking. Oh, you have a Vanquish-style boost slide just in case you really can’t wait the five seconds it’ll take to get to your next target. And given how gleefully creative Bulletstorm’s murderising is, you are going to get impatient.

Above: Like I said, headshot smeadshot

Killing people is easy in Bulletstorm, a fact emphasised by the speedrun/score attack-styled Echos mode I started off playing. But Bulletstorm isn’t just about killing people. It’s about killing people spectacularly, using every ounce of creative, drawn-out brutality you can muster to score big points with ever bigger and more extravagant meaty messes.

And Bulletstorm really wants you to make those messes. Its control system is as elegant as it is instinctive. The usual double-trigger system to aim and fire. A to mantle over cover, with a double-tap to slide. Left bumper activates yourtether (hold it down to whip your target upwards) and the right bumper charges up your weapons’ ludicrous secondary fire modes. 30 seconds to learn, and then you can start pulling off the thingsI listed on the previous pagewith contemptible easy and deft fluidity.

Above: The whole environment is a weapon.Even ifa surfacedoesn't explode, electrocute, or mince your quarry, you can still bludgeon him against it until he turns into pate and goo

In single player, it is one of the freshest, most creative, and most exciting experiences I’ve had with an FPS in many years. But there’s multiplayer too, by way of a four-player co-op Horde-style mode, by the name of Anarchy. Here, you’re tasked not with simply wiping out the opposition, but with racking up your team’s score as quickly as possible with insane showboating kills

Combo attacks bring the biggest rewards, and you score massive points by sharing those combos with your team-mates, using the extra man-power to set up and execute ludicrously lengthy strings of creative punishment. Bodies can be kicked, grappled and blasted around between two or three team-mates at a time, making for some of the funniest action, both deliberate and accidental, I’ve ever witnessed in a co-op shooter. Trust me, with friends and a few beers, this is going to have major legs.

I have no bonesabout saying that Bulletstorm might well be one of the most important FPS of 2011. It's already a thrilling and totally unique play, and if the main campaign can blend these exhilarating core mechanics with epic set-pieces and an engaging story, then we could definitely be looking at an absolute stunner here, If I were to sum it up in one word, that word could only be ‘stupendous’. And 'stupendous', my friends,is a verygood word.