The unfortunate side-effect of Cliff Blezinski’s dramatic unveiling of the Bulletstorm on an American chat show was that, as the details were leaked ahead of time, the planned announcement itself in some ways overshadowed the actual product. Thus, when we first got a chance to see Bulletstorm in the flesh we knew it more as ‘That game CliffyB talked about on the Jimmy Fallon Show’ than anything else.
Which is a shame, because when we did get a chance to see it then Bulletstorm blew our socks clean off with its outrageous violence and stylised approach. Like The Club, it seemed a shooter with an old-school edge – this time evidenced by the way players could build elaborate combos by using the environment in interesting ways.
In Bulletstorm you get score bonuses for certain kills – our favourite of which is shooting a man in the groin, leaving him crying for a few seconds, then finishing him off with a single headshot (Ed: We employ some odd people). That’s called a ‘Mercy Kill’ and it’s just one of the reasons why we felt we had to follow up with Adrian Chmielarz, founder of Bulletstorm’s developer, People Can Fly.
bit-tech:Can you start by telling us a little bit about the idea behind Bulletstorm? All we know at the moment is that it’s about mercenaries who become…space pirates?
Bulletstorm: a tale of space pirates and flaming skeletons
Adrian: Ha! No problem. It’s set in the future where there’s this confederation of planets, right? It’s a time of peace and that peace is achieved through black-ops operations. Bad people are killed before they are able to do anything really bad and the team behind all these covert ops is called Dead Echo. Your character, Grayson Hunt is a member of Dead Echo, but he discovers that the unit isn’t killing bad people – they’re being used buy a psychotic general, Cerrano, to kill the people he hates.
So, when they realise that they no longer want to work with the general, but they also know all the secrets. So, Grayson gets labelled as a traitor and the whole army is sent after him. It’s a bit of a pickle for him!
At that point the story moves ten years into the future – you play that part as a prologue. Ten years later though, Grayson is a pirate, hitting ships for gold, because it’s the only way he can survive. The unpleasant side effect of that is that now everyone is after him, not just the Confederation Army. There’s a bounty on his head. He’s also changed from being a cool, professional military commander into a complete mess. His cyborg friend, Ishi, is still with him, hoping that Grayson can be the man he was before.
Oh, and explosions too
Then one day, in a dark corner of space, bingo! They run into the general’s warship, and, though it’s totally stupid, Grayson attacks it in a bid to kill the general. He fails, but not before he smashes the two ships together, forcing them both to crash into the planet below. Surviving the crash, Grayson and Ishi set off to explore the wreck and see if the General survived too – then get the hell out, because the planet isn’t very nice. It’s populated by savages and gangs, even the plants are trying to kill you. The underlying plot is all about ‘what happened to this planet?’
BT:The game seems very arcadey. It’s all about big combos and high scores, reminding us a lot of Serious Sam and Painkiller. You’ve got a big, complex story on one hand and fast, hyperviolent gameplay on the other - do you worry that the two might no mesh very well?
Adrian: That’s a good question and it’s also the war we’re fighting as a developer, because this is nothing to do with the old-school and the old times. The problem is that it’s hard to communicate the nature of the game and what it’s about, especially when you’ve got a new product – and there really is nothing like Bullet Storm. It can be hard for people to figure out what Bulletstorm is really about and I know because I’m hearing these comments a lot.