Bullet Witch (Video Game)
Released by Atari
Format: XBOX 360
The year is 2013. The Earth as we know it has been ravaged by waves of monstrous demons with a true flair for fashion, one that would make ol' Ed Gein extremely proud. Things are looking rather dismal for mankind until one hot witch by the name of Alicia makes the scene with her broom-shaped Gunrod in tow. Alicia has one thing in mind ... send the demons back to hell by any means necessary. Hot lead, lightning, and brimstone are your tools, and it's time to get busy.
Bullet Witch for the XBOX 360 is a hard game to review. Not because of what is and isn't good about it, but because it's getting increasingly harder to judge games like it because there's so much more out there that's riding the cutting edge of technology. Let's see if I can explain this properly.
Superb games like Gears of War have landed on next-gen consoles, and with them come effects and game-play the likes of which we gamers have never seen before. There's just so much going for them. Enter a game with a much smaller scope and budget. After playing a truly killer app. like Gears, it's easier to notice another game's shortcomings. Too easy in fact. Had Bullet Witch come out, say, five years ago, I'm sure it would have been much better received. As is there's just too much out there that's better. In any event, let's check out the goods and bads.
First off, let me just say that the opening cinema of this game could very well be worth the price of admission alone. It sets a very dark, very bleak tone that sucks you right into Alicia's world. But then it happens. You get your first look at the in-game graphics, and your heart sinks just a bit. You'll see things while playing Bullet Witch that will inspire awe. The explosions and fully destructible environments are breathtaking at times. Even the character models are very well drawn and nicely animated. The real problem here is that for every good thing, there are two or three bad things just waiting to annoy you. Pop-up runs rampant, there are sporadic clipping and slow-down issues, some of the textures are barely passable when up close, and the sound effects have a tendency to be a bit wonky. For example: You just blew up a tanker. While facing the smoldering vehicle, you can hear the roar of the flames. Turn just a little bit to the right, and everything's quiet. Turn back to the tanker --Whammo!-- the sound effects are back. These little instances add up to a lot of distraction and give the game a rather unpolished feel.
Speaking of audio troubles, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the game's voice acting! Holy shit! The geniuses behind such killer voice-over work like Sega's House of the Dead 2 and the original Resident Evil are alive, well, and sounding as stupid as ever. Lines like "You're the girl with the demonic" are sure to take their place alongside gems like referring to RE's Jill as "The master of unlocking." You just gotta laugh, and laugh you will.
The game-play itself is also a mixed bag. Don't get me wrong; blowing shit up and killing badass looking demons can be a blast. It's just too bad you cannot lock onto anything. All of your aiming will have to be done on the fly, and that makes for some really frustrating situations. Especially when getting shot at by demons who never miss. But hey! You've got the extra firepower that you need at your command with your spells, right? Alicia is a witch! She should really be able to lay the smack-down on the big bads! Well, sort of.
The main problem here is the way that the spell system is laid out. It's just obtrusive. There are three different spell menus to cycle through with the right and left shoulder buttons. Once you have the menu with the spell you want to cast, simply press its corresponding button to activate it. The hitch? You're almost completely blind while trying to select stuff so while you're looking around for that nifty cure-all, you're also getting turned into Swiss cheese. Considering that the D-pad on the controller isn't used for anything, I cannot help but feel that there should have at least been an option to assign quick spells to the directional buttons. Man, would this have made life easier. Are you listening Atari?
Truth be told, other than gaining the ability to cast all of the game's spells and tweaking your Gunrod so that it can become one hell of an instrument of pain, there's really not a lot to do here. This works both for and against Bullet Witch. On the good side of the fence, what we have here is a mindless shoot-em-up whose atmosphere reeks of cool. On the bad there's, well, there's everything else.
Despite its numerous shortcomings I did find myself diggin' on the game's flavor probably more than I should have. The post-apocalyptic feel is dead on, and there's more than enough violence to satisfy the hungriest of gore-hounds. Yet, is that enough? Is it bad? Is it good? Honestly, that will depend on you and what you're in the mood for. One thing's for certain; there won't be much fence riding among gamers. Some will like it, and some will want to see this witch burned at the stake.
Proceed with caution.
3 out of 5
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