Bullet Witch - first impressions

The good folks from Atari came by to demo Bullet Witch, next February's apocalyptic - Goth tale. Long story short: the year is 2013 and much of the world's population has been decimated by disease, war, and every other cataclysmic event you could possibly think of. Enter Alicia, Bullet Witch's anti-heroic gothess, fully equipped with a "boom-rod," a customizable gun (all the rage now) and up to nine magic spells to aid in her quest against the undead.

The game's opening takes place in a desolate city, as Alicia guns down trash-talking zombie soldiers and other meaty enemies, periodically taking cover so her HP can regenerate.

Luckily, Alicia brings shelter with her, as well. When bombed out cars and houses are too far to reach, she can fall back on a helpful spell that enables her to create an instant wall to aid in cover. Another spell acts as a sort of Force push, sending cars and trucks flying across the city streets, taking out enemies. The effect is as impressive as it is useful. Rounding out the spells we had at our disposal in the demo is Sacrifice; it's a morbid-but-handy spell that has Alicia shooting blood out of her hand in order to heal innocents and AI-controlled soldiers who will fight alongside her later on.

Artistically, the game is pretty to look at. The art design is unusual, with nice, often macabre touches like the way zombie soldiers wear the skinned faces of their prey like scarves. Blowing up a giant floating brain, or Walnut Head, and impaling baddies on spikes after using the Rose Spear spell comes with the right amount of gory goodness.

However, while the game's art style is visually pleasing, the overall graphical prowess leaves something to be desired. Witch hiccups, particularly during Alicia's acrobatic evades, at the current-gen mark of 30 fps. Being on the 360, this game should be running at 60fps no problem - which, all tech-talk aside, means it's popping and locking like a hip-hop phenom when it should be flowing smoothly as a ballerina. There's no excuse.