Of course, most of the media attention surrounding Bulletstorm has been not on the skillshot system itself but on the names of various skillshots, winking monikers like "Double Penetration", "Gang Bang" and "Rear Entry" (shoot an enemy in, well, the rear). When I first heard those names, I couldn't help but groan—it seemed pretty clear that People Can Fly had simply grafted some provocative language onto a fairly derivative scoring system with the hope that it would attract controversy and media attention.
But when I spoke with Bulletstorm's producer Tanya Jessen, her view was... since Bulletstorm gives points based on creatively dispatching enemies, its violence is merited by its gameplay systems...but what of those oh-so-provocative skillshot names? I've learned that when a developer or spokesperson is about to try to sell me a half-truth, they preface it with some variation of "What I can say is…" So when I asked Tanya about the gameplay necessity of calling a special move "Double Penetration", she responded thusly: "What I can say is, the intent was humor. We didn't want a game that took itself too seriously."
A fair enough response, though it felt a bit like she was skirting the issue. I asked her if she had played Bayonetta. "I played a bit, yeah," she said. "Based on what I played, I really enjoyed it. I loved the fact that the developer was taking risks; it was so over the top."
...As I watch an increasing number of developers loudly and publicly embrace the ridiculousness of their games, I wonder whether they're missing the point a bit. Games like Bulletstorm and Saints Row 2 are perfectly enjoyable, but there is a self-consciousness about their ridiculousness that feels calculated and disingenuous... I suppose when it comes right down to it, there is only one thing that will consistently take me over the top. It isn't toilet humor, blood and guts, dick jokes or curse words; it's imagination.
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