Bulletstorm Session Notes (part 1)

To start off with, the baddies in Bulletstorm sound like they all took voice lessons with the The Humungus.    So they’ve got that going for them.  Which is nice.

When I take notes while playing a game I generally just scribble down whatever comes to mind in the midst of the experience:

The action set piece and tutorial that the game opens with left me pretty cold.  It pretty and dense with architectural design and details, but as a dramatic hook, I got nothing.  I suppose it’s fair to say that one shouldn’t expect much from the latest answer to “where can I go to revel in the antics of an unpleasant, drunken, space-biker stereotype?”  However, I have higher expectations for the introduction of such a character.  Anti-heroes are hard to like (for me, at least) and creating a meaningful bond between player and avatar seems like the kind of thing* that is important to getting the players motives synced up with the character’s.

Early on the main character expresses concern for the safety of a little girl and has a strangely protective relationship with a specific character.  I say strangely because on the one hand he takes a bullet for him and generally seems concerned and on the other he’s psychotically committed to seeing to it that said character becomes collateral damage.  The plot may ultimately prove me wrong but I think both of these elements are grafted onto the story simply to give the player a reason not to report him to the police after the first 15 minutes.  In real life.  With an actual phone.

Let’s see.  Something good …

I really like the sliding mechanic.  You can double tap an action button to go into a fast ground-slide and slam into enemies foot first.  It’s got a great feeling of speed and momentum.  When you hit the enemy they flop around in bullet time and you can shoot them from below which I suspect allows you to setup some fun combos.  I’m wondering if the game will be able to keep it fresh, though.

Speaking of the combos, the skillshot system is also really cool in principle.  In short, you can setup elaborate, multi-part attacks to stun, flip, shoot and blow up enemies and the game rewards you for pulling them off.  Again, I’m early on the game but it seems like lots of these combos will be hard to discover on my own.  The game has a system by which it reveals them as a rewards but I can’t help but feel that even basic combos are kind of unapproachable without it.  I wonder if there are design choices that could have made the presentation of the mechanic a little more inspiring.


* Honestly, I may be very wrong about this.  Lots of games, especially first-person shooters seem to be premised on wish fulfillment.  Telling people off, solving problems violently and generally giving into base impulses are commonly suppressed behaviors.  Maybe they need an outlet and the template of Rugged Baddass fits the bill.  At the very least its fair to call it an overly safe design choice.

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