A couple of months after starting F.E.A.R. First Encounter Assault Recon in an effort to play something spooky around Halloween, my experience with the series is now complete. Although I’d always wanted to play that game, I didn’t think finally doing so would take me down the rabbit hole of playing every entry. But here we are. F.E.A.R. 3 brought the series to a close with the return of the Point Man, his evil brother Paxton Fettel, and their strained relationship with Alma Wade. The shifting trend of the series, to a more action-orientated horror affair reached its culmination with new gameplay mechanics, which made this the most enjoyable entry.
Do you remember Black? It was a first-person shooter released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in 2006, and it attempted to do something different with the genre. The developers behind it were Criterion, known for developing the Burnout games, a series of racing games that emphasized crashing as much as racing. With Black, they put an emphasis on destruction and explosions. For instance, instead of just shooting your enemy, shoot the explosive barrel next to your enemy. Besides that, Criterion lovingly recreated real life guns, eventually labeling the game as gun-porn. Well Black2 never materialized, but some of the former developers of Black are getting a second chance with Bodycount.
The demo for Bodycount opens up with a brief mission summary for my character. A militia has massacred some army soldiers in a West African city and I’m being sent in to find out why, and take them out if they use force. Naturally they attacked me and I was forced to take them out.
As I meandered through a slum, I occasionally noticed red barrels and other explosive containers, conveniently located next to militia members. I of course decided to shoot these instead of the bad guys and received points for doing so. I believe killing my enemies in special ways built a multiplier, implying that levels can be replayed for higher scores, although the demo wasn’t long enough for me to get a good sense of this.
There weren’t a lot of obvious opportunities for me to take out these militia members in creative ways though. Sure there were explosive barrels scattered around, but there weren’t really a ton of them, at least easily noticeable. I also increased my multiplier by getting headshots and killing enemies through cover, but if I want to play a first-person shooter with a score mechanic, Bulletstorm from earlier in the year seems like a better option.
The area I played in was very run down with debris and shoddy buildings all around. It looked very nice, but this area seemed like pretty much any other war torn ghetto from a first-person shooter. Same goes for the weapons I used. I had a machine gun and a shotgun and they operated as one would expect them too. However as I killed enemies they dropped pickups that would fill up special skills. The only one available in the demo was incendiary ammo, which I think was more powerful than normal ammo, but I couldn’t really tell.
While the premise of Bodycount is interesting: kill in creative ways and destroy your environment, it’s my belief that there are other games that do it better. I found the other aspects of the game pretty middling. The area I played in was terrible looking (in a good way) but it looks like many other first-person shooters. And it controls like them too, albeit, my character moved around rather slowly, and I just didn’t care for the overall feel of character movement. That said, it’s still seems like a pretty good game, but not a day one purchase for me. Bodycount is to be published by Codemasters and being developed by their Guildford Studio. It’s scheduled to come out on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on August 30, 2011.
Bulletstorm is the next game from Epic Games, the studio behind Unreal and Gears of War among others. It’s being co-developed by a subsidiary of Epic Games, People Can Fly, themselves known for the PC first-person shooter, Painkiller.. As the demo starts Grayson Hunt, the main character, introduces himself and a little about the game, all the while harassing the player; from the get go, Bulletstorm looks to be a dumb, offensive, madcap, and ultimately, fun game.
The demo consists of one level, and as Grayson Hunt and crew make it to the end they have to kill with skill. Instead of playing out like a standard FPS where you’re solely focused on getting from A to B, Bulletstorm is more interested in you killing enemies in creative ways and giving you more points for doing so; it’s more about getting a high score, then reaching the end of a level. I can tell that the leaderboards will be one of the more interesting aspects to Bulletstorm and will keep players coming back. There will be a story mode, and while I assume from the demo that the story will be over-the-top zany and provide an entertaining experience, what draws me towards Bulletstorm is the potential competition between friends, and if there were to be a challenge room type mode where you play individual levels, attempting only to best your friends’ scores, that would be very appealing.
There are only three side arms in the demo, but they are all extremely deadly, and that’s before taking advantage of their alternate fires, producing even more gruesome results. Besides the standard weapons, Grayson Hunt also has a whip-like item that grabs enemies and jolts them towards you, with time slowing down when they’re right in front of you. It’s very easy to utilize and I used it as a beginner to combos. Afterwards, I’d kick the enemy away and unload on them, headshots on their flailing bodies, ripping their bodies apart with explosives, or by just shooting them into some dastardly part of the environment.
The demo took place in a destroyed city full of rubble and debris, which leads me to believe Bulletstorm will take place in war-torn environments. The environment in the demo was quite drab, but the game as a whole looks to be brighter than the Gears of Wars games, a complaint of mine towards them. Bulletstorm will be a very vulgar game, the violence is ridiculous, and the profanity is profound, with the demo combining profanities for interesting results, for example, at the end of the demo Grayson Hunt called me dick-tits and suggested that the game wasn’t going to pre-order itself; yet it’s easy to not take offense at the game’s vulgarity, Bulletstorm is crude, but the tone of everything is humorous and cheeky.
I’d stayed in the dark about Bulletstorm up until now; it didn’t interest me at first glance but after playing the demo I can see that Bulletstorm is a quality game with a unique combination of gameplay mechanics that provide for an enjoyable time. The story looks to be a dumb, over-the-top, fun time, and I’m sure the multiplayer will be seriously good, but the real draw for me will be the competition between friends on the leaderboards.