Call of Duty: Black Ops, Halo Reach, Medal of Honour. 2010 had its share of great shooters, but even the itchiest of trigger fingers may be suffering combat fatigue in 2011.
Now, we like a shooter as much as the next sociopath, but somewhere there's a ton of decomposing horse meat with the boot prints of a million developers stippling its flanks.
But devs Epic and People Can Fly have whipped the proverbial dead nag into new and vibrant life: Bullet Storm is the result. And when we say whipped, we mean whipped.
One of the game's biggest draws is the inclusion of a nasty electro lash. A press of the right bumper will reach out, grab a targeted mutant and yank him full force into your waiting size 12. Hello, gore. Hello, points.
And if that doesn't make a headshot seem like small beer, you've got less soul than a vampire dog.
But the fun doesn't stop there kids, oh no. Even shooter standards such as the assault rifle, shotgun and grenade launcher have been retooled for maximum mayhem.
Witness for example the Bone Duster. Ostensibly it behaves like two shotguns fired in ecstatic union. Overcharge it, however, and it'll reduce the opposition to smouldering fragments of bone.
Overcook the grenade launcher and things get weirder still. It'll unleash a bouncing bomb that can be kicked around like a football made of pain. As both these terrifying toys suggest, this game is all about scoring points by causing pain. And the most points will be awarded to the most imaginative rather than the best shot.
As such the game's intimidating environments become playgrounds of painful possibility. Giant dinosaur skulls, fizzing circuits and electrical storms can all be exploited for points aplenty. String together an outrageous ill move with an environmental kill and those points hit unimagined heights.
But whereas it's easy to imagine how such combo-centric play will feed into score attacks and multiplayer bouts, it's less clear how it'll work in the game's story mode.
Set on the wilderness of a hostile planet our hard-drinking hero will have plenty of opportunity to lavish pain on its native population but will he have the patience? We know that scoring imaginative kills will allow you to upgrade more quickly, but is there more to it? Perhaps the enormous monstrosities glimpsed in these screens offer a hint.
Could it be that their mortal coils can only be unwound by imaginative attacks? We can only guess, but the invention displayed so far suggests surprises to come...
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