clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bullet Run values style just as much as substance

New, 1 comment

Make your teabagging work for you

bullet run demo
bullet run demo

The thrills in Sony Online Entertainment's new free-to-play shooter Bullet Run are awfully cheap — which, I suppose is appropriate, given that the game is pretty cheap too.

The thrills in Sony Online Entertainment's new free-to-play shooter Bullet Run are awfully cheap — which, I suppose is appropriate, given that the game is pretty cheap too.

Bullet Run gives its players a suite of ridiculous special powers which complement the genre's standard abilities of "murder without fear of legal consequence" and "continuous life after death." One power straps a pair of deadly claws to the player, and gives them a burst of speed and shielding so they can go full-blown Wolverine for a few seconds. Another equips the player with Akimbo SMGs, and gives them the ability to quickly slide on their knees as they spray and pray towards a foe.

To use these abilities, the player must first accrue "Heat," a resource that's earned by doing awesome things. Imagine the dynamic kill bonuses of a Call of Duty or Battlefield — getting revenge on an enemy that killed you, killing an enemy with their own gun, and so on — and you're on the right track.

The trade-off is that you can get a 50 percent bonus to any Heat you earn by performing taunts as soon as you earn a kill. What results is a risk/reward trade-off: After performing that triple kill, do you taunt over the fallen bodies of your foes to boost your Heat, or do you not want to risk the few seconds of vulnerability?

Bullet Run is built upon the promise of a permanent solution to FPS camping

It's an interesting mechanic, but I don't know if it's enough to prop an entire game upon. My first demo match with the game was a blast, but around my third, the fun was experiencing diminishing returns. Don't get me wrong: The shooting looks, sounds and feels great, and the glee of sliding into a room, guns a-blazing never tarnished. However, as far as innovation goes, moments like those are about as single-faceted as they come.

The problem is that every time I'd try to pull off a crazy maneuver to generate Heat, I'd end up getting picked off by your prototypical FPS strategist; crouched down inside an advantageous nook in the map. Bullet Run's core conceit would seem to penalize those players for not staying on the move, but since death makes you lose a portion of your Heat, meticulous killers can prosper just as much as they do in other shooters.

I saw some of the aesthetic customization options the game boasts, as each of my combatants seemed like they'd been pulled from different kinds of apocalyptic hells — but, apart from a few pre-made loadouts, I wasn't shown how players could customize or upgrade their weapons and abilities. Those types of specializations are the bread and butter of free-to-play games, but they present a unique problem: The developers can't just let players fit themselves with the weapons they're the best with — they have to give them the weapons that they're the coolest with.

Bullet Run is built upon the promise of a permanent solution to FPS camping — but there's a good reason that nut has gone uncracked for so long. SOE and developer ACONY Games are trying to find a balance between speed and simulation, but it's a little too soon to tell if they've found it yet.