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Bulletstorm co-op preview: kill with skill together

Submitted by on Thursday, 9 December 20107 Comments

A game as deliciously messy and silly as Bulletstorm is has to be a social event, and we are glad developer People Can Fly agrees. The studio is adding co-op multiplayer to Bulletstorm so you can “kill with skill” with your friends.

The mode in question is Anarchy. It has you playing as part of a ragtag team of human-controlled soldiers that has to face up against waves of enemies; however, this is not a simple survivor match: there is a target score to reach, and the only way to achieve it is by killing in style. You know, kicking them in the crotch before you blow their heads off – that kind of thing.

You are actively encouraged to work together, and People Can Fly do this by offering you higher scores for combined attacks. For example, if you kick a monster towards your teammate and they finish it off, you will receive more points than you would if you indulged in a spot of solo killing.

The most effective way to kill together, that we came across, was to use Bulletstorm’s brilliant energy whip. With this, you can knock enemies through the air, leaving them exposed to your mate’s attacks. Even better is when there are four of you grabbing an enemy together with your energy whips, chaining it like the beast it is. Probably unintentionally, you will instantly think of Ghostbusters when doing so: “don’t cross the streams!”

The environment is a weapon as well. There are few things as lethal as a giant cactus or an overcharged terminal, effective for impaling and shocking, respectively. Both are satisfyingly nasty.

The key to Bulletstorm is not to play it in a prescribed way. For this reason, there will not be a move list in the menus; once you give people a move list it takes away their natural creative urges, and that is the last thing People Can Fly wants to do. They give you the tools, and it is up to you to run wild with them.

There are so many permutations. We hear of more than 100 skill shots but that seems like a conservative number. You should never run out of ideas. Yet, if you do somehow draw a blank, the objective kills will inspire you.

These pop-up randomly during the mission; they ask you to kill an enemy in a certain brutal way. This could be having a number of you whip an enemy together or it could be you kicking a foe around as if it is a football. If you successfully complete these objectives, People Can Fly will smother with points.

From what we could tell, there were waves of around five to six enemies coming at us at any one time. Most were easy cannon fodder; however, some sub-boss enemies offered more of a challenge. Yet, it is not really about challenging gameplay: what’s more important is that great feeling of working together to see where you can take the game. There is also something satisfying about the way the game calls you a “sadist” (one of the many wonderful tag lines that appear following a skill-kill).

Putting co-op multiplayer and Bulletstorm together is a smart decision. Trying to out-style our friends was some of the most fun we have had in a long time. In our last game, we reached the target score with only one second left: exhilarating.

We also played Echoes, another online mode on Bulletstorm. This is essentially a singleplayer mission that gives you extra freedom to express yourself – and it has online leaderboards. You play through the level while trying to kill as skilfully as you can. You will be trying to turn your enemies into pancakes, trying to electrocute them, and you will be going out of your way to direct your boot towards their man-hood. Anything for a good score.

Playing Bulletstorm is like watching a comic book come to life in the image of a videogame. It is hard not to marvel at its irreverent attitudes and cartoon violence, especially when so many other developers are stuck down the serious road. Just do not tell Alan Titchmarsh about this.