Xbox 360/PS3/PC; �49.99; cert 18+; People Can Fly/EA
Bulletstorm is, without doubt, one of the most eagerly awaited titles of the year ? and would be even if it wasn't February. With its promise of gore, ultra-violence and swearing, it's got gamers champing at the bit and campaigners frothing at the mouth.
It features all of the above at levels few games dare. You certainly wouldn't want it falling into the hands of an eight-year old. But it also features jokes ? the script is by Marvel writer Rick Remender ? and a plot, and some fantastically creative twists that make it utterly, and shamelessly enjoyable. It will take a very seasoned gamer not to whoop uncontrollably at least twice during the main game.
You play the mercenary Grayson Hunt ? think Wolverine, only chunkier ? who, as part of the Dead Echo team has been protecting the sinister General Sarrano and carrying out Sarrano's dirty work. When Dead Echo realise that Sarrano isn't what he first appeared, and question the legitimacy of their activities, they find themselves labelled "namby pamby cocksucks", exiled to the edges of the galaxy, as one character memorably puts it, "stroking one hell of a revenge boner."
This is all revealed in an entertaining prologue that teaches the basic controls. Then the story proper kicks in and all hell breaks loose. It should be repetitive and overly familiar: you're running around alien environments, attempting to complete objectives ? get there, fix that, rescue her, meet up with them, etc ? while blowing the bad guys off the face of the planet(s). You have, undoubtedly, been here before.
You've also used these game mechanics. Kills earn you points, points earn you upgrades. Dispatch the enemy in more varied ways ? for example, "voodoo doll", where you snap out with your leash (a fine and flexible piece of weaponry) catch them and pull them onto a handy nearby spike. The more elaborate the death, the greater the points scored under the Skill Shot system. The greater the points, the more extras you can download. Bulletstorm calls that "The Circle of Awesome", which says quite a lot about this game.
It's the creative weaponry ? as well as the often hilarious script and twisted storyline ? that makes Bulletstorm stand out from the rest. The sniper rifle ? with steerable, slow-motion bullets ? certainly takes some beating. The first time you manage to negotiate fallen debris, a door frame and bank the bullet around a corner into their ugly backside, be prepared for involuntary whoops.
With Casualty levels of gore, Itchy and Scratchy levels of violent humour and many, many hours of multi-player testosterone-fuelled fun, if Bulletstorm's not a classic in the making, it's not far off.
? Game reviewed on XBOX