Bulletstorm E3 2010 Preview

QUICKTAKE: Bulletstorm is Painkiller developer People Can Fly's tribute to creative killing. Protagonist Grayson Hunt is armed with ridiculous abilities, perfect for playing within the sandbox of killing. This is a game where you'll slide 100 feet across the level, kicking an enemy into the air, attaching two grenades on a string to the unlucky foe, and detonating as he floats into the middle of three other enemies... and earn points for doing so.

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At E3 2010, I got to run through a brief demo level after watching a four-minute video describing the game's skillshot system, which rewards creative kills. Put simply, the more game mechanics combined or skill required to execute a kill, the more points you'll receive. Points can be used to purchase new abilities, which can then be unleashed to earn even more points.

For weapons, I got a machine gun, a grenade-bolo launcher (which attaches trigger detonated explosives to objects/enemies), an electric leash, and a kick. Chaining these together in different ways or experimenting will lead to different bonuses. For example, shooting someone in the crotch will cause them to crumple in pain, but not die. Shoot them in the head at this point to get 100 points for a "Mercy" kill. I'm not going to try and list every skillshot I was able to pull off in my short playtime, but if you think something should be worth extra points... it probably is.

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Slow-motion plays a big role in the game, but you'll only be sending enemies into slow-mo. There's probably a story reason for this, but honestly, who cares? Kicking an enemy will put them airborne in slow motion while normal gameplay continues around them. This provided much needed time for planning out your glorious skillshot. Do I just shoot him? Do I rig him with explosives? Do I kick him into a giant cactus? The choice is yours.

The leash is another slow-motion inducing weapon. It can shoot out and grab an enemy, pulling them toward you in slow-mo. It can also be upgraded to initiate a large attack that will send multiple enemies (and any explosive objects that happen to be close by) into the air as they fall slowly to the ground. Simply shoot the explosive for a major bonus or bolo the guy in the middle for tons of points.

Bulletstorm is a childish game, for sure. There are one-liners that amount to little more than a dick joke. Enemies stream in and stand conveniently close together for efficient killing. However, the shooting is crisp, responsive, and fast-paced. It reminds me of the days of Quake and Unreal Tournament. Gaining points is satisfying and upgrades unlock even more abilities. On the surface, it seems like there isn't much to the game. To that I say: what more do you need? This game is pure fun. If you're looking for a deep story or copious amounts of logic, go look elsewhere.

Bulletstorm is in development for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. It is scheduled to be released on February 22, 2011.

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