If I were to come up with a short and informative description of Bulletstorm, I would say that it has the delight in mayhem from Ratchet & Clank in the setting of Gears of War. This brings Resistance to mind – a comparison that bears merit but the differences between Gears/Ratchet and Clank and Resistance highlight what is unique and interesting about Bulletstorm … There is also the issue that the setting of Gears of War is not really the strongest part of that game. Ah well, I am glad I did not have to pitch it.

Bulletstorm is a game that is all about the game mechanics and these are usually very polished and makes a highly enjoyable game. The core mechanics of manipulating your enemies in mid-air work really well and are quick to get into, the system of rewarding the player for everything seems a bit cheap at first but is very well balanced and interesting enough to encourage exploration of the game but not so important that ignoring it will break the game. The leveldesign is stellar with different concepts being explored with just the right amount of time, the difficulty ramps up nicely and new features and moves are introduced in a sensible fashion. The features do get a bit too many towards the end, there is the occasional skillshot with a seemingly random success rate and some really annoying game-breaking bugs that break up the action from time to time, but these annoyances are minor in the context of the craftsmanship.

Then, there is the rest of the game. It looks pretty, disregarding the animations which are so-so (then again, I have yet to see an Unreal 3 game with impressive animation) and sounds good, but then there is the theme and narrative. It is very clear that Bulletstorm does not take itself seriously in this regard and the story is a string of one-dimensional characters spouting one-liners and acting out action film clich̩es Рthe bar is set very low. In a way I suppose this is good, the gameplay never has to suffer because some feature is hard to describe in a realistic setting and at least Bulletstorm is successful in its attempt to create a shallow story for cheap laughs and really basic emotional commitment. Personally I thought the worst parts of the story were in the few instances where it deviated from this and tried to be serious, although I can imagine others may take issue with the swearing and lack of depth.

It is kind of hard to classify Bulletstorm; in terms of being a holistic piece it is a poor example of a game because of the narrative components and how they are presented, viewed in this light it could be classified as unimportant – entertaining, but not bringing the “Art of games” forward. Looking solely at the gameplay though, one finds refinement and fresh ideas for both mechanics and how to get people to use them – in this light Bulletstorm could be an important game for years to come. A lot of people say that as they grow old, they require more from games and the simple fun of the games from their youth is not enough to make them interested anymore, there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be intellectually challenged but I think in order to enjoy Bulletstorm one must be satisfied with being merely entertained.

Posted on Feb 25/11 by Saint and filed under Reflections | 2 Comments »

/* */

LostWinds: Winter of the Melodias


The second LostWinds game is very much like the first one. In a sense this is a bit sad since LostWinds felt rather refreshing but this one mostly feels derivative, but there are some interesting additions. The touted weather mechanic is in itself nothing spectacular, a standard binary world system (with a theme that was used in Oracle of Seasons, no less), but it has some interesting puzzles based around it. Also, it still looks and sounds fairly nice.

The problem with gesture-based commands is that it is hard to parse them correctly, especially when the input device is something as fickle as a wiimote. In order to get around this you’ll need to have either a smart and forgiving input system that is very good at figuring out what the player wants, or make the difficulty in controlling part of the game itself. LostWinds seems to have done neither and is often quite frustrating to control as it is imprecise and often very hard to tell if you can actually reach a platform or not. Like its predecessor it is not a difficult game, but the occasional series of tricky jumps will take some time to clear. There are also a few cases of illogical puzzles to add to the frustration, but thankfully they are rather few.

LostWinds was short, just long enough that you wouldn’t get bored of the new control methods and soothing atmosphere, so while Winter of the Melodias might technically be the better game it is no surprise that I did not find it as enjoyable. I heard that the idea for LostWinds was conceived after many brainstorming sessions where other ideas were discarded, maybe a similar process should have been used to take the idea further.

Posted on Feb 13/11 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »

/* */



The Room Jam was held this weekend, a gamejam where the participants each created a flash game taking place in a room – the collection of rooms have now been merged into the game SoManyRooms. The Global Game Jam also was this weekend, so it seemed like a good idea to join the GGJ:ers in spirit rather than join in the actual event.

The room I made with music by my coworker Johan Althoff is a short arena shooter of sorts, my intention was to create a game where the player’s powers are more aggressive and powerful as his health decreases, thus having a central risk/reward mechanic. To some degree I think it worked and the concept could be taken further by experimenting with reach, spread, power, cooldown and other attributes of the different attacks, but I am not sure it is interesting enough to warrant more depth.

Posted on Feb 02/11 by Saint and filed under General game development, Homegrown | No Comments »