Bulletstorm Hands-On Impressions

We whip it and rip it in our first hands-on play with People Can Fly’s upcoming thinking shooter.

by

Gamers aren't lazy; we're just a little on the practical side. With the exception of a handful of titles, first-person shooter games in the last decade have encouraged and rewarded precision, stealth, and ammo conservation. That’s not to say that shooters criticize or chastise creativity, but frankly, given the linear design and progression of most shooters, there’s not much wiggle room for free thinking or experimentation. This week we rewired our brain, getting our first hands-on time with Bulletstorm, a game that continues the tradition of catering to the path of least resistance but goes a step further to offer more nuanced gameplay when it comes to blowing the bad guys into little bits.

Developed by People Can Fly, the Polish studio behind 2004’s reasonably well-received first-person shooter Painkiller, the team has partnered with Epic Games to create a title that encourages item and environmental exploration. We’re not talking about secret passages and hidden objects, but rather a legitimate attempt to provide players with reasons to seek out new and interesting ways to do the business of killing.

The two key ingredients at your disposal are your energy leash and your imagination. Killing a foe with a bullet rewards the minimum 10 skill points. By contrast, closing the gap between you and your target with your whip and then kicking him into a ripe, spiky cactus rewards fives times the experience at 50 points. Bouncing a group of enemies headfirst into a set of running helicopter blades or wrapping them in chain-gang grenades and detonating them midair to produce a fine blood mist is even more lucrative. These represent skill shots and subsequently reward skill points, the game’s currency, which can be spent at upgrade stations to improve the lethality of your abilities, weapons, and ammunition.

Though our demo granted us access to only the basic PMC rifle and the more exotic Flail gun with its double-grenades-on-a-rope ammo, we managed to get plenty of variety out of the pair. Upgrading the PMC rifle with the overcharge ability adds a more powerful shot to your repertoire, unleashing a hundred rounds simultaneously as a giant glowing ball of death. Buying leash overcharge adds a secondary fire to your whip, which, when activated by holding the left bumper, knocks your selected target and any nearby buddies into the air, slowing time and giving you the chance to either take precision shots or go for multiple kills by throwing grenades or environmental explosive items into the mix. Controls felt tight and responsive, while the generous aiming allowance on the leash means you don't need to hit the middle of the mark to drag your victim over for its brutal dispatch.

Our all-too-short hands-on session gave us a taste for the variety of mayhem possible in Bulletstorm, and we’re eager to spend more time exploring the possibilities that lie below the surface. Fans will get their chance to check it out when it hits the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in late February next year.

Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage from E3 2010.

Discussion

82 comments
lavatj
lavatj

GREAT DEMO,CAN'T WAIT

hrothgar99
hrothgar99

i havnt from this game in a really long time .....is it even on ???

Kyprioth_Wolf
Kyprioth_Wolf

I don't see how any of you can say that is game is like Borderlands. . . at all (trust me, I would know. I've played this game on several occasions). Not in any way is Bulletstorm similar to Borderlands, not in gameplay, not in the controls, not in the way you do 'missions/levels', definitely not in graphics, or in any other way. I'm not dissing Borderlands, it was a good game (but Bulletstorm is going to blow all other games away :P ). Just tired of people saying 'it looks like Borderlands'. . .

coasterride509
coasterride509

I was at E3 and played the demo; the skillshot mechanic was awesome and I could see it becoming addicting. I played the demo on an Xbox but they also had it on PS3's and it looked amazing on both systems. I wasn't planning on getting it, but now it's at the top of my wishlist.

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

So getting this on my Xbox360 S when I get it! I ditched PS3 because of the crappy ports, poor online, and the fact that half the people you game with never have headsets, or worse just goof off online. That and even in games like KZ2/Uncharted 2 the textures in PS3 games are so low rez and the colors are so bland that they have to use massive ammounts of whats called Contrast lighting to get it looking good, and the games looked washed out all the time. I can't wait to get back into the Xbox360 again! I hope I find one of the new models tomarrow so I can get my 2 games, redownload Shadow Complext, and BF1943 and get back into the game of pure goodness that is XBL. Plus it will all run great, on my new 1080p HDTV from Vizio, and my massive 50wat 2.1 speaker system.

Obidion
Obidion

@packgator: Well, after all it's the same bunch of people (Cliff Bleszinski is also doing Gears of War 3 and Borderlands is also done by gearbox software:)

sambucca666
sambucca666

English people should not try and pronounce badass like the Americans do, it sounds so dumb. Be proud of your accent man!

Packgator
Packgator

This game looks like Gears of War meets Resistance meets Borderlands..... Which is AWESOME!

lokier066
lokier066

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biggest_loser
biggest_loser

@MindlessTeef: Definitely off for me! I don't like anything to get caught up you know!

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

Another sandbox game, fun, but does'nt have depth... But still very very fun :)

HLno1
HLno1

hehe.. That fat guy in the 2nd photo with the enormous gun, doesnt he remind you all of something about painkiller???

Evenios
Evenios

interesting i guess. a new unreal tournament game would be nice...seeing how the engine they use ...is called unreal and all.

MindlessTeef
MindlessTeef

Painkiller wasn't bad... Bulletstorm looks like the most fun one can have with their clothes on! (or offf... I supose...depents how you prefer your gaming)

chtgamer
chtgamer

this one I like the best what I've seen over E3 2010 days. There are 2 main components I respect in videogames: graphics and fun/gameplay.

supermanrocs
supermanrocs

Reminds me of the Odessa step sequence. LOL

DS-man
DS-man

i think they focused the game more around ppl being slung, i think the gameplay will be glitches and the story will be weak. i will not be buying.

StiffZombie
StiffZombie

Looks fun but the physics could use some improvement. I'll be following up to see how this game turns out.

meleekill989
meleekill989

now there's only one question left: xbox 360 or ps3 version?

meleekill989
meleekill989

@ Fusco1980 a good point. variety is the spice of life (and by extension video games). i for one hope that i'll get to play as a giant man-eating venus flytrap in multiplayer mode. or maybe a death-cactus.

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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meleekill989
meleekill989

@ Fusco1980 i had assumed based on the interviews that this game wouldn't be as mindless as the base of the first person shooter market is today. take call of duty for instance. the entire formula of the game is as follows: go to point A kill some people, take cover and wait for health to regenerate go to point B, kill some more people, again wait for your bullet-wounds to magically heal themselves go back to point A and kill yet another wave of enemies etc etc i agree with you on all of your points, but i'm saying that although ultra-realistic shooters are quickly getting old, so is their homogenous gameplay. i think that bulletstorm will be a shooting game that requires a little bit more than quick fingers and a good use of cover. remember the guy said that the game will sort of turn into a strategy-based game where you'll need to think before going into a battle by setting up traps, predicting physics, etc. THIS is what i'm hoping will remove us from the bore of games like call of duty, medal of honor, and ghost recon. i do also agree that having the sort of borderlands over the top feel is definitely a breath of fresh air. and to all of you whiners who are complaining that this game looks like borderlands, knock it off! to me that's a good thing!

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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zync-
zync-

look funny, just imagine kill ppl in mp shooting right to the hole LOL

snared04
snared04

@PhantomRachie Don't know that I would agree with that comparison. While the Fallout 3 Engine included a lot of the previous Fallout games' version of RPG elements, I'd say they were on par with the amount of RPG elements in Borderlands, which had a skill tree. I'd say that's almost more indicative of a modern day RPG than a simple Stat chart. Either way, they were both shooters with RPG elements. That said, this looks like a pretty good game, I'll have to admit it. I liked Painkiller, which definitely kind of did it's own thing. I very much think that shooters these days almost HAVE to have RPG elements, or some kind of adjustable stat points/skill points, or w/e. I think Deus Ex set that standard, and when companies recognize and incorporate that into an already good setting, and then throw in solid gunplay, you could have a winner. Even if it's not entirely innovative, which this game looks decent in that regard anyway. @ djr1118 Yeah.... No rpg elements in an FPS huh? Your game of DOOM going well then? Just because one game didn't pull off such a feature to _your_ exact specifications doesn't make it a bad idea. FPS games are pretty much beyond being able to NOT have rpg elements, especially when games like Deus Ex pulls it off with such style. Do a little research before saying stupid things like that. Or just don't talk at all.

PhantomRachie
PhantomRachie

@ djr1118 Not to be a pedant here but Fallout 3 is an RPG with some elements of FPS, i.e. it was in third person and you could use a gun. Its main focus was on the story line and the characters, which is why the combat elements were perhaps not as tight as FPS fans would like. (Although I really enjoyed Fallout 3) An FPS with RPG elements would be Borderlands because it was mainly an FPS game but with a more developed story and character leveling system. This game looks good; I miss the crazy mad cap shooters of old like Duke Nukem

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

Well TBH I'm getting tired of the high realism arcade shooters my self. But with games like Bulletstorm, Brink, even Crysis 2 there is some hope for shooters to do new things. In fact UT3 while a vary simple game has some of the most fun gameplay I have ever seen in an FPS. Gears of War was a vary nice idea that continues to be number one for third person shooters. Uncharted 2 is another prime showing of how third person shooters should be done. I mean Uncharted 2 is realistic to a point but they added some fun elements too it that keep the player coming back for more. Whats better then shooting a main in the head? How about a full on brawl Indyania Jones style? Or a commando take down? How about being able to do it with just about any thug you come across? Stuff like that may seem unrealistic, but it adds a layer of fun you can't get in a high realisim shooter.

Tokinblckgie
Tokinblckgie

@ meleekill989 I agree. the number of COD, Halo, and Killzone games is just overkill right, no pun intended. I used to love Halo and a few other shooters early on because they were kind of unique. But with probably more than half of today's big releases being fps's, it's getting really boring. Especially when they add little new to the mix other than new weapons and vehicles and such. With that said, Bulletstorm looks kind of fun for what it is and at least the art desing feels kind of fresh and different, for now...

djr1118
djr1118

hmm rpg elements in a fps, where have we seen that before oh right Fallout 3 and look how that game turned out -need i say more..

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

To explain the lack of color in UE3 games it was done for a reason and that was the extra muted color and texture palate allowed for enhanced performance on the video cards of the time. As Epic games made more and more enhancements to UE3 they found they could remove most of the texture filters that made the game engine look washed out, and boring. You can tell what version of UE3 each third party game uses based on the color palate in use. Vanquish has noted color, so dose Bulletstorm, and even ME2, But if you compare them with titles like ME1, UT3, Renasonce of Fate, and other UE3 games you can judge what version of UE3 the game Engine is using based on the color and texture details. UT3 uses (At least for PC gamers anyway) UE3 V3.0 the same version used in Gears of War 2, Renasaunce of Fate uses UE3 V 2.0 (more color then Gears 1 but still much less then we gamers like), FrontLines Fuel of War Used UE3 2.2 (with all the texture filters removed at that point it's why it has so much color, Their new game is also using the newest version of UE3 it's why the color looks so great) Get it now? They found a way to remove the heavy filters, and allow the colors to shine through, It just proves that UE3 is a great game Engine.

The_Tabeeb
The_Tabeeb

tooooo funny Guy 1: " Am I allowed to curse?" Guy 2: "Sure (why the hell not!)" LOLOLOLOL!

meleekill989
meleekill989

@ Fusco1980 exactly. it's kinda funny though, because i can't think of a better example of a mindless run-and-gun shooter than Painkiller. i enjoyed Painkiller though, and i'm not bashing on games like this - their best feature is quick pick up and play action. i'm just saying that this type of game is overdone these days. i do agree though that a shooter that will actually force you to think about what you're doing is really a breath of fresh air.

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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meleekill989
meleekill989

@ Fusco1980 amen bro! the last thing the gaming industry needs is more mindless run-and-gun games like the call of duty franchise. please.

RoboticAids
RoboticAids

this looks like a gimmicky fps. I cant stand the art style. it looks like a gears rip off. ill pass.

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Fusco1980
Fusco1980

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NColdhardt
NColdhardt

I saw this at E3. Looks pretty decent. I'd rent it before I buy it. @ MrBubblezz, they showed Dead Space 2 but not MK. Another must buy for me.

MrBubblezz
MrBubblezz

Well, theres this, Gears 3, Halo Reach, Fallout New Vegas, Brink, and Fable 3.... im gonna need some money.. OH and Mortal Kombat! Wished they would've shown a brief glimpse at Dead Space 2, but im glad their taking their time

topsemag55
topsemag55

I've got Painkiller, and I liked that, so no doubt this game will be as great.:)

muppen
muppen

Bulletstorm looks crazy. I must have it :)