Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 / PC
“Bulletstorm” is a first-person shooter for people who are tired of first-person shooters. The plot follows space pirate Grayson as he tries to avenge a wrong and escape the crazy planet on which he’s crashed.
The story is surprisingly good, and most of the characters (especially Grayson) experience believable arcs. The dialogue is funny and self-aware, if you can stomach some of the most ridiculous cursing you’ll ever hear.
The idea behind “Bulletstorm” is the encouragement to kill in creative ways. You’re equipped with a whip of sorts that you can use to throw enemies around. Combining this with your kick ability and some really weird guns (one fires drills) will earn you points to buy ammo and the like. For example, kicking a guy into electric wires may earn you the “shocker skillshot.” The system is fun, and experimenting with different combinations usually provides amusing results.
In a sea of modern military shooters, this game feels extremely refreshing. Sadly, there’s no multiplayer option other than a survival-cooperative mode, but if you’re sick of all the “Call of Duty” clones these days, “Bulletstorm” offers something genuinely new. —Andrew Jerman
“Killzone 3” is the newest iteration in Sony’s sci-fi shooter franchise, following the continued efforts of the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance against the Helghast (think space Nazis). The Helghast emperor is dead, and the resulting power vacuum has left the planet in a bad spot.
Needless to say, the ISA simply want to get off-world before they’re wiped out. The story won’t wow you, but the well-developed characters will. The main villain, voiced by Malcolm McDowell, is especially outstanding.
“KZ3” plays similarly to the previous game, although the controls have been tweaked to huge improvement. Carefully aimed shots are now much easier to pull off. On par with the series, the visuals are top-notch and the environments varied. The lasting draw, however, is still multiplayer mode, which works on a class-based system. Improvements aside, issues remain with things like squad invitations being more difficult than necessary.
The genre is overpopulated these days, and considering how expensive games are, it pays to pick your shooters carefully. The lasting appeal of multiplayer mode proves “Killzone 3” is worth the price tag. —AJ
Test Drive Unlimited 2
Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 / PC
The latest release in the aged racing franchise, “Test Drive Unlimited 2” follows a lowly valet who rises through the ranks of racing championships on the island of Ibiza.
Being open-world, the game supports plenty of tropical exploration and race content, but the gameplay is shoddy at best. The controls combine elements of loose-feeling arcade racing with more precise simulations.
But this causes both elements to suffer — you’ll often find yourself unexpectedly struggling to maintain control of your car. The game also features off-road racing, which feels surprisingly good.
“TDU2” has been marketed as a massive multiplayer game, featuring a persistent online mode. Flashing your lights at other drivers/players triggers multiplayer challenges. The problem is that the multiplayer servers are up rarely, at best; most of the time, you’ll just be driving around alone.
Several other features, such as player-made clubs, have been disabled due to glitches. In a game focused on social interaction, these are big problems, so skip this test drive. “TDU2” rarely works as intended, and when it does, it’s just not that much fun. —AJ