Killing with Skill: Trailer and First Look at EA & Epic’s Bulletstorm

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Cliff Bleszinski thinks shooters take themselves too seriously. This may be a dubious claim from the guy who’s the public face of the mopey Gears of War franchise. But he’s looking to add some snark to all the sobriety and lighten things–literally–up with Bulletstorm.

(More on Techland: The Techland Interview: Cliff Bleszinski, Part 1)

The FPS, a joint venture by EA and Epic Games, is being developed by People Can Fly, a Polish dev studio best know for the crazy FPS Painkiller. In a recent demo event, the bizarre weapon design that PCF is known for was on display, as well as a deeply reactive gameworld that lets players use the environment and explosive weaponry to engage in circus-like, stunt-centric battles.

Bleszinski says that the creative partners want Bulletstorm to be the Burnout of shooters. The popular racing series is built on an offensive driving ethos, a high-speed experience where you slam into other cars and use the environment to take them out. Where Burnout has Takedowns, Bulletstorm has Skill Kills. Skill Kills are stunts that either set up or deliver deathblows to the enemies you’ll be fighting in the sci-fi shooter. Here’s an example: the futuristic world where you’ll be fighting is peppered with explosive trashcans that you’ll be able to snag with your character’s energy whip. You can then fling them at a group of enemies and shoot the trashcan, which then explode and launch them in the air. Once they’re airborne you can pick them off for a Skill Kill. Each of the weapon has a unique skillshot and Skill Kill will catalogued on-screen as they happen. An Afterburner happens when you set them on fire and then kill them and the words “Bad Touch” floated in the air after a bad guy impaled on giant cacti. Lead producer Tanya Jessen was playing an early build of the game for the live demo and she used Grayson’s unique kick and slide abilities to launch enemies away or upward and set them up for kills. A kick flings them away from you and a slide launches enemies upwards.

(More on Techland: Gears of War 3 Trailer: Ashes to Ashes)

The most vicious Skill Kill Jessem pulled off was a Mercy, which happens when you shoot an enemy in the privates and then put them out of their misery with a headshot. It’s apparently tough to execute and Tanya won $20 bucks after Cliff bet her should wouldn’t be able to do it.

Weapon design is a big deal for People Can Fly and one devious weapon we saw was the Flail Gun, which shoots two grenades tied together with a chain (kind of like a bolo). It can be used as a proximity mine, or the chain slices them to bits if they’re close enough. The game’s main assault rifle sports an Overcharge feature, heating up 100 bullets that fuse together, fire in a clump and then explode. That attack is where the game’s name comes from. And, the aforementioned energy leash pulls enemies toward the player, and interacts with objects in the world, too.

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