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February 21st, 2011

Why Bulletstorm Is The Future Of FPSes (And Must Be Stopped)

Posted in Call of Duty 2 News, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare News, Halo News, Uncategorized
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Bulletstorm is out tomorrow and we’re welcoming it like Mubarak would a return to the Pharoah system: a crazy, unbalanced and classic solution to an increasingly violent set of problems. It’s being released after a bigger blaze of publicity than Hindenburg Airlines, but it won’t matter if the game disc is a pink DVD of kitten movies. It’s already summarized modern shooters better than the sentence “Shoot people in the face in a sequel,” and if we’re not careful, it’ll be worse for first person shooting than a ban on imaginary bullets. Here’s how it represents the future of fake firearms (and how it’s a future which will send naked, violent men back in time to prevent itself.)


A Warning From The Future. And Hairstylists.

Anti-Videogame Insanity

If you thought anti-videogame scare stories would fade away now that even senior citizens care about high scores (thanks Nintendo!), then thinking was your mistake. You’ll never understand the media by doing something like that! Instead of accepting that maybe the existence of the human race proves how children don’t do things which end civilization, or admitting that a total lack of evidence might be a reason not to say something, FOX instead learned a lesson from their videogame enemies: if your real life is boring, make something up instead!


FOX’s new head of creative scaremongering/”opinion”

Carol Lieberman broke that last, lonely link with reason when she directly blamed videogames for an increase in rapes, despite rapes

  1. not happening in the videogames she’s talking about
  2. not increasing in the real world either.

The hordes of sexual aggressors exist only in her head, which technically makes her the most dangerous person involved in the discussion. The Lord of the Rings is a better news story, because sometimes people really do kill each other for jewelry. She held forth on the hundreds of studies backing her up but when asked to mention even one claimed she couldn’t remember any. Other psychologists, who base their statements on facts and will therefore never be famous, don’t either. Because they don’t exist.

It’s proof that videogame scare stories are going senile. A functioning brain stops shouting when every single person and fact is against them. Now that they’ve gotten away with utterly making things up, we can look forward to ever-increasing allegations – and we should be scared, if only because they’ll have to invent brand new and more horrible crimes to beat the “rape” card they’ve already played. Our only consolation will be how we’ve already won. Because old people have consoles now too – the Wii is the most popular technology with senior citizens, because it’s much more fun than the dialysis machine – so what used to be “These devilboxes are satanic, just like every other new thing any generation has ever done!” is now “No no, our console is great, but all the other consoles are terrible.” Which means they’re already videogamers. And we’ve won.

Shooting Things Monopoly

Shooting things Monopoly isn’t an attempt to fix the worst game in the world, or the natural result of having a family activity based on relentless sadism and the right bear arms in the same country. It’s the death of imagination. We’re looking forward to BulletStorm because it’s a chunky, fun shooter made the guys behind Unreal Tournament (which is more chunky fun than a LEGO set). It’s such a relief from the endless series of Call of Duty games, but it would be more so if they weren’t actively counting on that.

The viral “Duty Calls” game mocked everything wrong with the CoD games while admitting that they’ve utterly won. Make no mistake: Modern Warfare is one of the best shooters ever made. It should be bought (we did) and played (we still do), but it’s “Have fun” good. It’s not “reshape the entire industry around it like a Sumo Wrestler in your bouncy castle” good, which is exactly what it’s done – become a huge immovable problem which stops anyone smaller getting into the arena.

When the only shooter options are “That Game” and “We’re Not That Game”, That Game has won. It’s not just crippling shooter imagination, it’s reaching out and destroying the hopes of other genres new – EA recently cancelled all work on Mirror’s Edge 2 (though then countered that reveal with a powerful “We’re actually not saying anything either way” statement) to focus on Battlefield 3. Because what players really, desperately need now is another squad-based war shooter.

Activision’s sequilitis so brutal even Jason Voorhees would think it was a bit much. Call of Duty is always fairly fun, and Modern Warfare servers remain home to some of the sharpest shooting online, but the yearly sequels have become more predictable and considerably less original than birthday parties.

Consoles As King

First off, every article claiming that the PC is dying has been written by an idiot who cares more about hits than making sense. You couldn’t kill the PC with EMP warheads, and as long as Valve continue to create the best games ever we’ve nothing to worry about. But while we haven’t been mortally injured, we have been badly annoyed by consoles.

Because they make a lot more money, consoles are the target market for most of the big-name titles. Which means that they’re programmed to be played with a joypad instead of a mouse, which is like training someone to perform surgery with a spiked baseball bat instead of a scalpel, and switching from one to the other is a painful and frequently fatal process. You can’t just install mouse drivers over the thumbstick software. The game has been programmed to account for a central dead zone, wild swings, and characters who grindingly rotate their arms like tank barrels. It changes the dynamic of the entire game – and when youre entire concept is “Kill With Skill” (as opposed to the Halo-style “Kill by grinding their shields down over time so as not to draw attention to how joypads are terrible at accuracy”) it’s a bit worrying.

Especially when the makers insult your intelligence. Epic assured us that the PC version would be perfect, truly engineered for the magic mouse, but there was no demo for the PC when the XBox got one. Meaning “We have the game pretty much finished and are ready to show it off, but we haven’t programmed the PC controls yet.” Which means they’re going to be welding mouse controls in over joypad programming, and sticking to wildly unrelated things together for combat purposes only works if you’re Chuck Greene.

But then it works better than everything ever!

Past adaptations like this ended up with worse Axis control than the 1940’s Reichstag, with a similar-level of killing-people-atrocity in result.

We’re Going to Play It Anyway

Despite being a worse indicator of your future than bear’s stomach rumbling inside your caravan, we’re going to buy this on Day 1 and play it until Day Power Cut. It’s Epic cutting loose and their “serious” game was an interplanetary reality television tournament starring men and women the approximate size, texture and attitude of a mass extinction asteroid. A UT server’s idea of secondary fire was fitting a rocket launcher with a Triple Spiraling Rocket Death, to this day the main reason we need a Nobel Prize for Explosives.

That’ll do, explosive multi-death machine, that’ll do

Any game where you can shoot someone, pull them, wrap grenade-bolas around their throat, kick them and turn them into a firework, twice, has got to be fun. They had us at “grenade-bolas”, a return to the sheer spectacle fun we’ve been missing. Gaming’s attempts to go Hollywood range from Halo’s horrifically intrusive Cortana whining in Halo 3, through the ridiculously expendable Noble squad of Reach, to Mason whining about numbers like an insecure accountant (and slightly less thrilling to listen to.)

The second is how it’s a spiritual sequel to a game we’d given up on ever seeing again. We’re going back to The Club! The score attack and spirit of “More points for killing people in stupid ways” couldn’t be clearer – the only difference is that instead of racing through a killing spree in a building, we’re doing it in a building that’s collapsed, still falling over, and equal parts on fire and full of mutants.

We can’t wait. We just hope the most “creative” shooter this year isn’t a brown-and-grey unofficial sequel starring the Gears of War crew without their shoulderpads.

 
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