Bulletstorm combines melee and shooter mechanics into one awesome and action-packed ride

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Bulletstorm Depending on the difficulty level you play on you’ll find yourself coming across hundreds of foes on the battlefield. Thankfully, Trishka and Ishi pack a mean punch as well
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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  June 12, 2011

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Key Specs

Age rating: 18
Online play: Y
Price: $73

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In the gaming world new IPs (Intellectual Property) are few and far between because developers worry that gamers won't take to new IPs. Thus most developers choose to develop games around existing IPs (Gears of War etc) that have already struck a chord with gamers. This leads to IPs being ‘milked to death' so when we heard that developers Epic Games and People Can Fly were working on a new IP last year, we were thrilled.

Bulletstorm is the new IP of course and lets not mince words, it's brilliant. Before moving on however it's worth mentioning that this game carries an age rating of 18 and after playing through the campaign, twice, we're in no doubt that it completely deserves its high age rating.

The game takes place in the 26th century and follows the exploits of space pirate Grayson Hunt and his highly-trained and lethal Dead Echo squad. Although originally serving the Confederation of Planets as a secret black-ops team, Hunt and company go AWOL when they realise they've been betrayed into killing innocents by their commanding officer. The back story is revealed in a prequel mission that sets up the rest of the game for Hunt and his team.

Like other games we've tried recently Bulletstorm doesn't really let you settle in slowly but rather throws you right into the thick of the action just minutes after you begin. While you can initially only use the standard Peacemaker Carbine and your boot to kick enemies into oblivion, you're soon given access to the Energy-Leash and a variety of other deadly weapons.

 As its name suggest the Leash is made up of energy and like all the other weapons in the game, there are two attack modes. The first is a simple pull attack that latches on to an enemy at range and pulls him towards you. The second more devastating attack is the ‘Thumper'. This unleashes a ball of explosive energy that rises and then comes crashing down on the battlefield and sends everything (enemies, explosive crates etc.) into the air. Hunt can then kill enemies in the air to gain vital ‘Skillshot' points.

Skillshot points are awarded based on how imaginatively and brutally Hunt does away with foes with whatever weapon he uses. With lethal weapons such as the Peacemaker Carbine, Flailgun, Bouncer Canon, his equally lethal boot and the superb Energy-Leash, there are hundreds of Skillshots to discover and earn. The trickier the Skillshot you pull off, the more points you get to resupply and upgrade your weapons. If you perform a standard kill on enemies you gain a minimal amount of Skillshot points and this ultimately will limit your primary and secondary ammo and upgrades. And while you can still complete the game just doing the bare minimum, it's not nearly as fun as going Skillshot crazy. The game's core mechanics are properly sorted so there's little to complain about.

Using each of the weapons is straightforward and we never ever noticed any oddities (invisible walls etc protecting the baddies) when we engaged in battle. The game's physics are top-notch too so objects behave in a realistic manner; while you may be able to leash a small enemy towards you, you won't be able to do the same for larger bosses for example. The only issue we had in terms of gameplay is that the movement isn't always fluid. While you'd expect that you'd be able to run towards an object or even walk up to it and jump over it in one swift motion for instance, the reality is that you have to actually stop and position yourself so that you get the prompt to hit the jump button. There's not much in the way of a cover system either and this can be annoying (and get you killed in serious battles).

Visually Bulletstorm is a spectacular game that generates amazing environments and breathtaking views, while also providing superb explosions and fantastic animation. There are times where we just stared in awe at what the game was throwing us because we couldn't believe the Xbox 360 was capable of generating these visuals at fluid, framerates. The only weak spot in terms of visuals is that up-close facial animation looks a little lifeless.

On the audio front Bulletstorm is without flaw. The script while full of profanity, toilet humor and worse is voiced to perfection by Steve Blum as Grayson Hunt, Jennifer Hale as Trishka Novak and Andrew Kishino as Ishi Sato. Enemy characters also have their own distinctive voices and effects and, as you'd expect, there are proper rock music tracks to urge you through most of the game. The sound effects attached to each weapon are also sublime and the howls and screams of enemies as you systematically take them apart, are both visceral and satisfying.

Our only real problem with Bulletstorm is that it lacks a cooperative campaign mode. Considering the storyline is played with at least one AI controlled teammate from start to finish, we simply don't understand why the developers omitted this. We can imagine it being easily one of the best cooperative experiences on offer by a FPS title today.

For: Tons of Skillshots to discover with each of the game’s different weapons. They’re violent and extremely satisfying to perform and watch.
Against: No cooperative play, facial animation isn't great.
Verdict: Bulletstorm is a fantastic FPS title that can easily go head-to-head with all the established IPs. It’s a visceral, sense-assaulting game that will engage you with its single- and multi-player components.

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