Gears of War it Ain't...
It may come from the same developers. It may have kinda similar-looking gruff men. You may not be able to jump (Seriously?? What is Epic's aversion to jumping??). But Bulletstorm is definitely a whole new game. Gears of War it ain't. In fact, I haven't really played a game quite like it. Especially in the carnage department.
You play as a band of space pirates, betrayed by their government and leader, and now hunted throughout the galaxy. You get brought up to speed by a fun, prolonged prologue, before you crash land on a hostile ex-leisure planet, which has obviously been taken over by bandits, cannibals and monstrous beasts. Armed with an array of weapons, and of course your "leash", you must battle and brute your way through the planet's "attractions" - often deadly - to your goal - the general who betrayed you and eternal redemption. Pretty simple plot, which is disappointing. But like Gears of War, Bulletstorm isn't here for the mushy moments - it's for the violence.
And if you're looking for violence, you'll find it here. The whole game revolves around the "Skill Shot" system. That is, the more crazy and difficult your kill, the more points you get to spend on ammo, new weapons and upgrades at dropkits. So for example, a normal kill (ie, you pump a few shots into an enemy's chest) will only net you 10 skill points. But shooting someone in the balls, kicking their head off or throwing someone into a river, well they could net you hundreds. There are a fair number of "skilled" kills, and you can review them at any time through an index. The harder the kill, the more the reward is. And not only that, if you string several together, you could amass even a few thousand skill points in one clean sweep!
That said, in my experience it doesn't flow well. Unless you're rain man, you can only remember a few skill shots at once (usually the ones you are trying to unlock for achievements, and a few of the easier ones you've done a few hundred times already), and this makes the game very unrewarding at times. You usually have to flick back to the index to revise what skill shots can be performed with your weapon. Otherwise you do some boring or repetitive kill and you feel lame for not being good enough to get 1000 skill points in one go; this disappointment happens a lot, and it is almost a draw back that the game has so many amazing kills because you want to do them, all the time. A little bit more effort on flowing the game would definitely have been warranted in this instance - sometimes less really is more, but if that was the case here, Bulletstorm would lose its main draw, so just try to remember your skill shots and you'll do fine. Allowing you to have all weapons in your armoury at once would help too (You can only have up to two alternate weapons at once, three including your PMC), since you'd then not have to exchange them for the ones you want to get skill shots with all the time, but I suppose there's some tactic behind this ploy.
The graphics are really good, with bright colours in most areas - a marked departure from the browns and greys of Gears of War. In some ways, Bulletstorm feels over the top and zany, and I think that is why any flaws it has are instantly forgivable. Sound is a little underwhelming. For the amount of hurt you are putting into those bandits, you'd expect a bit more oompf in the sound system to really bring home those explosions and ker-splats. But other than that, there is little else to complain about with Bulletstorm. It is a solid game trying its best to vary itself from other shooters, and although it fails in some respects, it definitely does achieve this goal and takes you on an enjoyable ride.