We here at Game Rant been excited about Bulletstorm ever since Game Informer released their exclusive first look at the game. Since then we've been promised insane amounts of action, outrageously large guns, and dialogue so inane your brain might literally leak out of your ear. Luckily, at E3 this year Will Delaney and I got our hands on a demo, and I'd like to share the experience.
The room of media was introduced to Bulletstorm with a short video, a tutorial even. This tutorial was unlike most though, guiding players to aim for for crotch and head shots with your machine gun. Other useful techniques include: kicking an enemy, tossing them forward and beginning a temporary period of slow motion; and throwing an energy tether which will pull an enemy towards you, or upon upgrade create an explosion that tosses enemies and objects into the air.
The key is carnage; the premise is pain. Bulletstorm's only expectation is that you murder your enemies flamboyantly. Whatever I was hoping to learn about Bulletstorm's plot and setting was ultimately demolished as the demo began. "Score above 2500 points and you're great, but anything over 3000 is awesome." The gauntlet was thrown, and the challenge was about to begin.
From there, things became messy. Starting the level with your standard machine gun, a tether for pulling enemies, the sticky bomb launcher, and your faithful kicking boot, there's really nothing left to do except kill the enemies in front of you in extravagant ways. There was literally no other point to the demo; there was no kidnapped princess or nefarious boss to dethrone. To be honest, the simplicity behind the demo's premise was a little bit off-putting. I'm a context loving gamer, but the demo threw nameless enemies at me on a nameless planet and expected me to be enthralled? Oh course, it was simply a demo, but nonetheless that was the mindset I had as it started.
At some point I made the decision to main the chain/sticky bomb launcher. I've used a machine gun a million times before, but never a chain shooting gun that can be remotely exploded. Ultimately, selecting the bomb launcher was terrible decision for my score, but it was absolutely fun while it lasted. Through the level you are allowed two different upgrades out of three that are available. The first I selected was an improvement for my tether, which created an explosion that launches all enemies and items in a small area into the sky. The second was an improvement to my gun, and I honestly couldn't tell you what the upgrade did.
My first kill was was a chain around an enemy's head. Then I progressed into tagging a guy, pulling him with a tether, kicking him into another enemy and blowing them up together. By the end of the match I was tagging an explosive barrel, using my upgraded leash to throw enemies into the air, and then as I slowly walked away from the scene pulling the trigger for a multi-kill.
At one point, midway through the level, you encounter what must be a boss of some kind. You cannot pull him, kicking him will only knock him over, but the pre-demo movie showed a number of skill shots you could perform on him with a machine gun. The weapon I used though, allowed no such skill shots. You simply kept blowing up your projectiles until the enemy died.
My match ended with a disappointing score around 2850. A player right next to me finished at the same time with a score of 2950, and as I congratulated him I saw he had reached his score with half of the skill shots that I had performed. Something wasn't right here! I turned and watched Will finish his game, and to my dismay found that the machine gun afforded opportunities for much more complicated executions. I had chosen my weapon poorly.
The exploding chain would kill an enemy in a single shot, especially when you attach it to their heads as I was aiming to do. The machine gun, meanwhile, allowed will to shoot and enemy in the head, pull, kick, shoot an enemy in the groin, pull, and kick into a deadly cactus. Even if you miss the skill shots to the head and groin you're getting bonus points for juggling and an environmental kill. I had chosen to charge through the demo as an unstoppable dynamo, causing explosions and taking no prisoners. The better players took an approach just as demented, teasing and torturing their enemies slowly before finally dealing death creatively. I wanted my turn back.
Leaving the demo, my thoughts had deviated from their original state. I could care less about Bulletstorm's single player. Immature jokes and violence I can find easily on the internet; I don't need to pay for a game to hear internet jokes. In addition, though the levels are likely to be very creative, the endless waves of idiot AI doesn't seem like the best method of applying their combat system.
Still, I left that demo excited about Bulletstorm for another reason: multiplayer. I walked away thinking about the possibility of competitive scenarios. A small pre-built stage with a single or group of enemies, and the sole purpose of scoring as many points as possible. Then put that score on a leaderboard and compete with your friends. One of the demoers teased me with idea of tethering an opposing human. Could you imagine a firefight where opposing players could launch you into the air, kick you into a hungry man-eating plant, or tethering you as you're running the opposite direction? It sounds fresh and new and intense in a way that Gears of War could never hope to be.
Ultimately, the Bulletstorm demo wasn't so hot, but the game's mechanics show a great amount of potential.
Keep your eye out for more news on Bulletstorm leading up to its release in 2011, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Also make sure and check out the rest of Game Rant's awesome E3 2010 coverage.