Hands-on / Bulletstorm’s Anarchy Mode

Bulletstorm is flipping mental; it doesn’t take more than one look at the game to realise that. But it’s also flipping fun as I found out at EA’s winter showcase last month. In single-player this is a super-fast paced, over the top FPS that sees you performing a bunch of lethal moves to rack up points. Now imagine wrapping all of that up and giving it to four players to enjoy in a Horde-style co-op mode? Madness? This. Is. Anarchy Mode.

This mode pits you against wave upon wave of enemies that have to be fought off. It isn’t just about survival though; you need to score a certain amount of points to make it into the next round, meaning you need to build up combos and get a range of unique kills. You’ll get a chance to spend any points you earn on new weapons in between waves, encouraging you to go for the best score possible to get the better weapons faster. Everyone starts off with the machine gun though which is more than capable of taking foes down.

From the word go it’s a glorious celebration of death and explosions. It wasn’t long before I was yanking enemies into the air and then kicking them into spiked fences and electric generators for grizzly, yet highly entertaining deaths. You know the game is a blast when you’re sitting there playing and your friend is over your shoulder shouting “Shoot him in the nuts! You get points for that!” but maybe that’s got more to do with how easily Lee Bradley is entertained.

We were dropped into a fairly tight arena for our match, a quick scout around revealed all the important spots (Blood stained spikes, check. Huge cliff edge, check. Thingy emitting deadly electricity, check.) and then the waves came piling in. With a limited knowledge of the game you’ll exhaust all the basic moves pretty quickly as kicking a guy upwards and then making his head explode will only get you so far. That’s a good thing though because it encourages you to explore what’s really possible here, leading to some “Oh I can do that and then do that and then use that and… jesus christ this poor guy!” moments.

Weapons come with alternate fire modes too; the machine gun has an incredibly lively grenade launcher that will leave you wondering what just happened when fired and things can get pretty creative when you move up the list of guns. Once I had enough points I stumbled upon shotguns that slice foes in half and mult-shot rifles that reign bullets from everywhere. People Can Fly are having fun with these weapons clearly, in fact there isn’t much about Bulletstorm that they’re not pouring the awesome over-the-top vibe into.

Of course what would be the point in co-op if you could only score points by yourself? Bringing a friend along opens up new opportunities for combos and kills that encourage you to play together. I won’t get tired of playing tennis with one bad guy as me and a chum kick him to each other, I just won’t. Some enemies will even require team work and specific combos for points bonuses, and these become increasingly important as the waves get harder and the required points go up.

The points are really what make this mode too. During the earlier rounds my team could pretty much do what they wanted, but as the game became more demanding we found we had to band together a lot more, getting one of us the slide a bad guy into the air and then the rest of us nail him with bullets.

Alas, it got a little too hard and my inexperienced band of troops eventually fell. That’s the idea of any mode of this type though, and I’m sure I’ll be coming back to Bulletstorm with improved tactics when it releases next year. When this mode meets with the over-the-top presentation and promising single-player, Bulletstorm looks to be a pretty awesome package.