Developers: People Can Fly and Epic Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First Person Shooter
Game Engine: Unreal Engine 3.5
Cross Platform: Yes (Xbox 360, PS3)
Price: Rs. 999 (PC), Rs. 2,499 (Xbox 360), Rs. 2,499 (PS3)
Every genre of gaming has its own basic gameplay in place, but every now and then you see some ingenious twist that enlivens things up. The first person shooter genre is arguably the least innovative of all, in that respect. Yes, you have had Thief bring about an era of sneaker shooters, or Half Life 2 with its brand of physics based puzzles, or even Descent, Prey and Portal twisting the very dimensions to great effect, but at the end of the day, it has all been about shooting at stuff till it can't shoot back any more. If you distil the very genre down to its basics, it's all about killing. Therefore, it's surprising that no game has ever thought of making that pivotal aspect any more interesting than the usual 'lol headshot! Pwnt f00!' routine.
Think about it; the movie industry has already figured out that trope ages ago, with franchises like Saw and Final Destination giving the viewers exactly what they want - not just plain vanilla deaths, but exceedingly gory and innovative ways of going about killing minor characters. What if a game were to borrow this trope from the film industry and bring it alive with the delirious interactivity of the interactive medium? What if murder was an art form and your trigger finger the brush? Well, the answer to this foregone cliche is Bulletstorm, where Epic Games and People Can Fly have managed to turn the genre on its head with a very Tony Hawk's Pro Skateresque take on murder. And boy have they nailed it!
Now this may have come as a surprise to you, especially since the game has been marketed as a back to basics shooter throwing back to the days of Duke Nukem, when FPS games had a sense of humor and a storyline hidden somewhere in the readme.txt file, but Bulletstorm is different. Heck, even the People Can Fly association makes one think that Bulletstorm is going to be an old school shooter along the lines of Painkiller, where enemies are quick to dispatch and large in numbers. However, the gameplay is way deeper than that.
In fact, Bulletstorm's bag of surprises isn't finished yet. Irrespective of what the trailers and marketing blitz led you to believe, Bulletstorm is an engaging pulp sci-fi caper. Set in a future with an eclectic blend of Mad Max's brand of savages and sci-fi themed space pirates, Bulletstorm incorporates these elements in a plot that is taut, cohesively integrated and interspersed with twists and turns that transition seamlessly from betrayal to revenge and ultimately redemption. It all made sense when I found that Marvel comics' Rick Remender (Punisher) was responsible for the script.
Bulletstorm puts you in the shoes of Grayson Hunt, a former member of a black ops team dubbed Dead Echo, working under General Sarrano for the Confederation of Planets. Former because he and his squad mate Ishi Sato go rogue after they find out that Sarrano has been using them to murder innocents who stand in the way of the Confederacy. Hunted down as a space pirate and driven to the edges of the galaxy, Grayson is a shadow of his former self - from a disciplined and respected leader of a black ops team to a drunken space pirate.
Ten years on, Hunt finally gets his revenge when he drives his ship into Sarranos', in a drunken stupor fueled Kamikaze attack, and subsequently crash-lands on a hostile planet dubbed Stygia (named after one of the regions in hell) along with the General. With all of his crew dead and Ishi patched into a cyborg mated to the ship's ruthlessly analytical AI, the story pivots around Grayson being torn between his selfish quest for revenge against the General, and his chance to redeem himself by getting Ishi off the planet and restoring his humanity.