E3 2012: Bullet Run, the F2P FPS that nails simplicity and fun

Walking around E3, it can be easy to bypass a simple-looking game like Bullet Run; it builds upon the core gameplay of Call of Duty, while bringing a lot of its own style to the death match. It won’t wow you with its graphics, but I’m betting it will net at least a few million of you out there who want to play something fun but are too attached to your AAA blockbusters to bother buying much else. Don’t worry, this one’s free to play (on PC), and everything can be unlocked through patience and skill.

Bullet Run is a game show, and you are a contestant on it. If you die, you are cloned and resurrected, ready to please the crowd again. Your whole purpose is to rack up as many style points as possible, thus giving the crowd a good time. Performing certain moves will start up your multiplier, and this will stay active for a few seconds. If you happen to continue performing stylish moves every few seconds, you can keep racking up a huge score. These points are what you’re going to need if you want to upgrade your abilities, weapons, character customization options etc. You can equip a total of four different taunts at a time, and using one after you’ve killed someone will net you points. You will be vulnerable, but thankfully the team was smart enough to allow you to stop taunt animations.

Though Bullet Run does have regular guns, I’d like to talk about the special abilities, since those differentiate it more from the pack. They’re gained throughout a match as you earn style points. One is a set of claws that upgrades your armor. There’s a regular slash, and a dive attack that sends you flying across the room, killing anything in your path. If you happen to hit a wall, you’ll take a bit of damage for your lack of foresight. The akimbo machine guns work just like you think they would, but the secondary attack lets you slide on your knees while shooting and becoming a smaller target. A turret can rotated and placed anywhere you want. Then there’s the neurofang, a spider bot that can be controlled and used to temporarily stop an enemy from moving. The mortar can rain a barrage of deadliness upon your enemies.

There are a few others that I wasn’t able to see, and each one of these abilities can be upgraded to increase the power or perhaps even change how it works. For example, the maximum upgrade for the mortar will give you a blip of where everyone is (just at that one moment), and then you can decide where to launch your mortar. The other players will be given a short warning of a mortar strike going off. I liked that I could amass a few of these abilities without much pressure to use them. Once used, the ability that’s been unlocked will go through a cool-down period and be able to be used again later.

Since I like characters with speed, I repeatedly pulled out the claws, hid behind cover, dashed to another piece of cover, and then thrust myself right through multiple foes–the claws are really awesome. The only thing I’d like to see changed with them is maybe more of an impact when hitting or going through enemies. The akimbos were a blast too. I mean, what multiplayer FPS lets you slide on your knees in style while free-aiming, and nailing people in the head? Not too many that I can think of.

As for the regular weapons, I really liked the feel of them. They felt a bit like what I’ve experienced in Call of Duty, but without the annoyance of auto-aim (console version). Unlike Call of Duty however, enemies didn’t die instantly. I couldn’t just shoot them in the foot and watch them keel over. I had to put in a bit of sustained fire, which made the firefights a lot more interesting. At one point I ran out of ammo for my primary weapon, and while in a lot of games pulling out your pistol means you’re at a major disadvantage, to the contrary, the pistol gives a satisfying kick–I watched as my opponent went down. Players will be able to customize four load-outs for easy access. One of the rifles was the Aug A3, and sniper rifles will also be included.

As for customization, this game looks to have plenty of it. For those of you who like the wackiness of the Saints Row series, many of your favorite colors and clothing options are going to be there. Weapons will have a variety of options as well, allowing for their range, damage, accuracy, mobility, appearance, and sights (and more) to be altered.

It’s hard to say exactly what to compare this game to. The guns feel like they’re from Call of Duty, except enemies don’t go down instantly. So the firefights are slightly extended. Then there are the powers that really change how you deal with people (watch the hiding spots for claws!). Unfortunately it often takes a smaller developer to do fun things. While the “big boys” are too busy with their realism, I’ll be sliding by doorways, showering the room with a bullet storm, and not caring about what should or shouldn’t be possible. Give Bullet Run a try when it comes out. It’s free to play and you might just like it.

Ryan Southard

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it’s new or it’s old, as long as it’s awesome, he’ll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard

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