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Bulletstorm Preview: Killing with Skill

by Jack McGrath | February 21, 2011February 21, 2011 7:19 pm PDT

Encouraging you to kill in as many stylish, extravagant ways as possible, Bulletstorm places you on a planet full of carnivorous creatures ready to eat your brains out. Will it be worth it to enlist in the all-out battle?

Rumors of Bulletstorm’s existence came about when Electronic Arts, the publisher of the game, announced that they would push a new game from independent developer Epic Games. People Can Fly then filed for a trademark for the game’s name in 2009. It was to be announced during a spring appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, only to be upstaged by Justin Bieber. Game Informer then proclaimed its existence through a cover story. Having given a small taste to Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 users last month, Epic came under criticism for not releasing a PC demo, though a post on Epic’s blog says that a PC version is in development. However, for marketing attention, a free downloadable PC game entitled Duty Calls, satirizing the Call of Duty franchise.

Developed by People Can Fly and Epic Games, the maker of the Gears of War franchise as well as the Unreal Engine, the game is set on Stygia, a paradise on the outskirts of the galaxy, during the 26th century. The story follows Grayson Hunt, a space pirate, alongside his partner Ishi Sato, both dishonorably discharged from a group called Dead Echo after they betrayed their commanding officer. After a liquor-induced attempt to take revenge on Dead Echo, their ship lands on Stygia, forcing them to confront mutants, monsters, and everything in between.

Featuring a unique system that rewards players for “killing with skill,” Bulletstorm utilizes a plethora of over-the-top combat moves and massive weapons to provide users with a memorable experience. This mechanic, called “skillshots,” awards players with more creative moves and “skillshots” when they cause mayhem. For example, if you were to set an enemy on fire and then shoot him, you would be given additional points for creativity. Another example would be kicking an enemy off of a cliff. This ensures that you can play through the game multiple times, competing with friends for the top spot on the leaderboards.

Bulletstorm was under fire when it came under Fox News’ scrutiny earlier this month due to its crude behavior, profanity, and use of sexual innuendos. Many have been quick to criticize, saying that the title could traumatize young gamers who get their hands on it. Carole Lieberman, a psychologist who was employed by Fox to break down what was wrong with the game, stated the following regarding the matter:

Video games have increasingly, and more brazenly, connected sex and violence in images, actions and words. This has the psychological impact of doubling the excitement, stimulation and incitement to copycat acts. The increase in rapes can be attributed, in large part, to the playing out of such scenes in video games.

Obviously slanted to a certain extent, EA felt obligated to respond and did so in saying:

As you know, Bulletstorm is a work of entertainment fiction…The game and its marketing adhere to all guidelines set forth by the ESRB; both designed for people 17+…Much like Tarantino’s Kill Bill or Rodriguez’s Sin City, this game is an expression of creative entertainment for adults.

Controversy aside, Bulletstorm’s innovative scoring system and replay value help distinguish it amongst an over-saturated field of first-person shooters. As an additional incentive to pick up Bulletstorm, the Epic Edition includes exclusive in-game content as well as access to the multiplayer beta of Gears of War 3.

What do you, fellow gamers, think? Are you going to pick up Bulletstorm? If so, are you willing to cough up a few extra dollars to gain access to Gears of War 3’s multiplayer beta? Let us know by speaking your minds in the comments below.


Jack McGrath

Rooted in his childhood obsession with dismantling and reassembling gizmos and gadgets around the house, Jack McGrath's knowledge of programming,...

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