In case you missed it, the demo for the Epic Games and People Can Fly collaboration Bulletstorm was unleashed into the wild on Tuesday. Since the reveal of the game early last year, expectations have been that the game provides a chaotic experience filled with violence, colorful language and endless fun.
So, does the demo play up to the expected elements and anticipated hype? The short of it: Abso-f@*!#-lutely.
Starting off with a narrated tutorial by the game’s main space pirate Grayson Hunt, the sense of the predicted colorful language and over-the-top violence is immediately evident. Off the bat, the story is set as you’ve crash-landed on a “butt-hole of a planet” known as Stygia and find out your commander has betrayed your squad, Dead Echo. The ego of Hunt is echoed throughout the tutorial as reflected in his speaking, including a statement about the demo being a “morsel of the greatest game ever made.”
After the tutorial and story introduction, you get an overview of the available weapons. Every weapon has a secondary attack or alternative ammunition and can all be used in a plethora of combinations to sass up your killing style.
Always equipped by default is the Leash – a concentrated energy whip that grabs enemies and yanks them towards you. Alternatively, you can trigger the Thumper which, instead of yanking the enemy towards you in Scorpion from Mortal Kombat fashion, sends a pulse of energy down the Leash causing the victim and surrounding enemies to blast into the air for easy target practice.
The Peacemaker Carbine is your typical assault rifle with decent accuracy and power. Its secondary ammunition is called the overcharged annihilator blast, which basically obliterates enemies on contact.
The Screamer is a high-caliber revolver, both powerful and accurate. You can also use the explosive flare ammo that will torch your enemies, or launch them into the air like it’s the Fourth of July.
An even more unique weapon is the Flailgun, which fires two grenades linked by a chain to wrap around your enemies and render them useless as a ticking timebomb. Once the creep is wrapped up, you can either wait for him to explode or speed up the process and detonate the grenades yourself. The secondary ammo for the Flailgun fires a flail chain that cuts through enemies like a hot knife through butter.
The perfect link to most of your attacks is introducing a duet of your primary weapon and your steel-toed boot, which is your one and only melee attack. Whether it’s a simple kick or a slide kick, the boot is a great combo creator as well as a quick close range attack. Using the Leash, you can pull the enemies toward you and then slam a boot to their face. You can kick enemies off an edge, or wrap your chained grenades around their neck with the Flailgun, kick them towards a group of foes and detonate. The combinations are at the mercy of your creativity, and the more creative you get the more points you earn.
The environment is interactive in various ways as well. In the demo, you can use the Leash to pull debris from the ceiling onto unexpecting attackers, trigger moveable objects to take out bigger groups or whip enemies onto conveniently placed sets of spikes. Where you successfully place hits on the enemies also plays a factor in your kill points. Variety racks up the points, repetitiveness not so much.
Each skill attack denotes it’s own title. For example, Voodoo Doll is when you whip an enemy onto spikes, Gag Reflex is when you shoot an enemy down the throat, and Vertigo is when you knock an enemy off an edge. Those are only a few of the ones in the demo, and most likely a small fraction of what will be in the full game.
When you progress through the demo, you come across a Dropkit that you access with your energy Leash to activate the Drop store. In the full game you will be able to purchase new weapons, ammo and charges in exchange for skill points. More weapons means more variety for creative kills to build up your score. In the demo, the Dropkit is limited to providing a free, and welcomed, ammo refill.
On top of the creative gameplay, the demo includes a taste of the social integration that will spark the competition between you and your friends. At the end of each round, you are shown how you stack up against your friends scores on each level. You can keep telling yourself “one more round,” but when you see one of your friends snagged the top spot you’re likely to hit replay instead of exit.
Even though the demo is rather short, the replay value is generous. Due to the insane amounts of combination kills, variety of weapons and attacks, the social and competitive aspect of seeing your friends’ scores and the sheer chaos of the experience, there’s no hesitation clicking replay at the end of each round. With such a great experience in just the demo, Bulletstorm promises to be an excellent addition to the beginning of a jam-packed year full of anticipated titles.
Bulletstorm is available now for pre-order, and is set for a February 22nd, 2011 release on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Are you excited to pick up Bulletstorm? Have you been playing the demo?