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The best kind of stupid

The best kind of stupid
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First Published: Fri, Mar 11 2011. 08 28 PM IST

Irreverent: A still from Bulletstorm.
Irreverent: A still from Bulletstorm.
Updated: Fri, Mar 11 2011. 08 28 PM IST
This is a situation many gamers find themselves in. They’ve just played something tense, wonderfully crafted and quite brilliant (in its own way), but how exactly do you explain that feeling to other people? If these people are not PlayStation-inclined, then it’s all the more difficult. Where you see interesting mechanics and expertly curated experience, they see juvenile violence and adolescent silliness.
Irreverent: A still from Bulletstorm.
Now if the game in question is Bulletstorm, that embarrassment is turned up to 11. This is, after all, a game centred around shooting people in creative ways with big guns.
Let us first lay out the level of decrepitude Bulletstorm descends to. The story is ridiculous. You play the habitually drunk Grayson Hunt, a soldier of fortune who seeks revenge against an authority figure called General Sarrano. Into this skeletal plot, Bulletstorm adds plenty of razor-sharp wit, crude sexual innuendo and oodles of profanity. There are fart jokes.
Yes, it’s pulp dreck. But it works. It’s self-aware of its stupidity, and uses that reflexivity to deliver some genuine laughs and thrills. It’s paced perfectly, the “skillshot” system that rewards you for being “creative” in dispatching enemies keeps it consistently fun and the visuals are fantastic. The game world is vibrant and colourful in comparison with other first-person shooters.
That’s the key phrase when considering Bulletstorm—first-person shooter. It’s the biggest, most popular genre in video gaming, and arguably its poorest in maturity. All the big examples of the type are lowest common denominator fare, injecting misplaced gravitas into poorly informed political statements.
It may seem strange to some that so much explanation has been spent on detailing what appears to be a glorified shooting game. “Aren’t all video games like this?” you might ask.
They’re not. Games such as The Longest Journey or even fellow shooter Half-Life 2 brim with powerful metaphors and complex themes. Bulletstorm, on the other hand, is like Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse—intentionally B-grade, irreverent, yet filled with a powerful sense of craft. It’s a crass, foul-mouthed title built on top of a deep understanding of what makes games compelling.
Bulletstorm is available from Milestone Interactive for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The PC version, reviewed here, costs Rs999.
Krish Raghav
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First Published: Fri, Mar 11 2011. 08 28 PM IST