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Judging by the state of the site comments (before and after), we’d say it’s fair to assume that a lot of people did not see our Bulletstorm review coming. We did of course, but then we’d completed the game and got the review written a few weeks earlier. We’d have been big forgetful idiots if we’d been surprised by it. And we’re not.
The gaming community at large though, just did not seem to get Bulletstorm, pre-release at least. Perhaps Epic and EA had gone too far in marketing it as the fun alternative to today’s grey military shooters, so much so that they’d made it look simplistic and jockish. Perhaps Bulletstorm is just too radically different from anything anyone’s played before to be effectively summed up in a few trailers and a demo. Whatever the reason, people seemed to expect at best a fun-but-blunt big dumb shooting experience. To be fair, we did to a degree. But Bulletstorm is much, much more than that.
It might wear a mask of irreverent, gory fun-times, but Bulletstorm’s heart pumps nothing but pure, tightly calculated, genuine game design innovation. Epic and People Can Fly’s game isn’t just an alternative to the glut of identikit military FPS. It’s a full-blown genre evolution that makes them all look woefully out of date.
Its central mechanics are simple to grasp (a factor that understandably put many off after playing the relative snapshot of the demo), but when they’re fully explored through the full campaign and deceptively expansive secondary modes, Bulletstorm reveals a staggering amount of depth and nuance. As much a 3D puzzle game as it is an FPS, as much a high-speed FPS as it is a 3D puzzle game, Bulletstorm’s focus on utterly free expression and immensely layered, subtly-detailed violent interactions provides a sense of place, purpose, and personalized experience that you haven’t felt since you first got hold of Half-Life 2’s gravity gun or started testing the limits of Portal’s Portals.
Bulletstorm has the balls-out carnage of Doom, the fluidly stackable combos of Tony Hawk and the delicately tactical physics-play of pool. It’s a game that prioritizes the input of the player, builds the entire experience around it, and rewards it at every turn. Essentially, it is combat evolved, genuinely and without doubt. If you care about the health of FPS or the vitality of games in general, you need to buy it. You’ll have a great time. Trust us. It’s brilliant.
Out of the two potential runners-up this month – Killzone 3 and MvC3 – we had to side with Capcom’s franchise-colliding fighter. The game’s kaleidoscopic violence and senses-shattering visuals are among the most arresting we’ve seen in the medium, while the gameplay itself is perfect for beginners to mash around yet still have fleeting feelings of badassery. And while it’s suited for button-spamming nonsense, MvC3’s frenetic surface hides a legitimately deep fighter that’ll be played and mastered over the next several years, compared to FPSes that are torn open in weeks and discarded in months for the next big shooter. We wish Capcom spent more time ironing out MvC3’s online matchmaking and modes, but the core game is impossibly attractive.
Killzone 3 is a fantastic game, and a great exclusive for Sony to tout, but it can’t stand above a fighter that’s been on people’s minds for the past 11 years.
Feb 28, 2011
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