Friday, August 24, 2012

Turret Fun - Bullet Run Review

   Bullet Run is a First-Person Shooter (FPS) created by Acony and published by Sony Online Entertainment, also available on Steam. The game revolves around a deadly future bloodsport of the same name, where clones kill each other for fame and glory. Just fame and glory, not prizes.

   To set itself apart from other shooters on the market, the game features eight skills (4 tiers, 2 in each tier, 1 from each tier usable at once), to give you an edge in battle, lots of available weapons and lots of available clothing customization options. Despite all this, the game sucks, but first let's discuss the couple things this game does right.
   Style: Interesting
   Bullet Run has a style that you won't see present in most other FPS games. Experience points are called "Fans", and points are called "Heat". Instead of just shooting things mindlessly and dying, you have to put some effort into appealing to the "Fans" to gain more "Heat", by doing various things that give "Heat" bonuses. Things such as killing an enemy while in the air, taunting, and getting headshots. It's nice to see a game that breaks the mold every once in awhile.

   Clothes: Quite a Lot
   The Appearance shop in the marketplace has quite a lot of clothes available, each one available in around 30 or so different colors. Not only that, but buying clothes gives a "Style" bonus, which gives a percentage Heat bonus after every match. Style points degrade at a rate of 1 point per day, and each Style point is worth an extra 1%. It's not a lot, but it's something.

   Premium: Pay Every Month to Have Fun
   Yeah, we're at the Wrong section already. This is ridiculous. *sigh*
   Anyway, first off we have the fact that this game has a Premium service. For 15 bucks a month, you will have an array of special bonuses added to your account. Bonuses such as the obligatory Credit Boost, a marketplace discount, reduced weapon condition loss (less repairs needed), reduced "Style" loss, and no level requirements at all. You may or may not have noticed this, but almost every bonus given by Premium membership directly affects how you view the marketplace. There's a reason for this.

   Prices: Sky High
   There are two things I need to mention. First, this is the amount of customization you start off with:
I can't wait to earn the adoration of thousands with my unique visage!
   That's it. You can choose a skin color and a hair color, along with your gender. You can't change your hair style or clothing styles, so when you start off the game, you will look similar to everyone else.
   Secondly, credit gain is directly proportional to how well you do during a match. Exactly 25% of the Heat you earn turns into credits. If you aren't that good at FPS games... well, sucks for you.
   This said, and being nice, I'd say you average around 500 credits for the average player for every 20-minute match. So, about 1500 credits per hour. Also, keep in mind that everything in the game is permanent and can not be sold back to the shop.

   Now let's check the actual prices. The first thing you will notice upon entering the marketplace is that there are a couple things on sale, usually for 25-50% off, and only for one color variant of clothing in question.
   Sweatshirt, 50% off? 3124 credits. Bandanna, 25% off? 3600 credits. Let's say you want to buy something you actually want to wear. Fingerless Gloves? 3100 credits. Happen to want those in red? 6200 credits. Yes, some things will cost more in certain colors, along with giving a little more Style for the purchase.
   Whatever, I don't need to look cool, I'll just get a new gun. The MP5 that you start off with is terrible inaccurate, causing you to run up as close as possible before opening fire. So maybe you just want something a little better? You're looking at 10900 credits minimum. Assuming you bought a shotgun, that's 10900 credits, plus 9400 if you want a silencer, 17189 for a better stock, and 4700 for a camouflage skin. And don't forget repairs! But wait...

   Repairs: Garbage
   If you have any experience with weapon durability systems, chances are, you will want to keep your weapon at full durability. Well, without cash, you can't. As you continue to spend thousands of credits repairing your primary weapons, the maximum durability on the weapon will go down, causing you to have to repair the weapon more often. And as I said before, everything is permanent and can't be sold back to the shop. But here's the kicker:
   REPAIRS ARE COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. I put that in bold, underlined, capital letters because that is the first and foremost thing you MUST understand about Bullet Run. NEVER repair your equipment in Bullet Run. I can not stress this enough. Weapons don't break or become unusable at zero durability. There's supposed to be a damage decrease, but it's completely unnoticeable for every weapon in the game. These are the same repairs that will, again, cost you thousands of credits to perform.
   And unlike other games that have high shop prices, this game does nothing outside of the "Style" system (which requires purchasing items to take advantage of) to alleviate the problem. There are no First Win of the Day bonuses, nor are there even level up bonuses. All leveling does is unlock items in the shop, and gives you absolutely nothing else.
   If they put a serious damage decrease on weapons for not repairing them in the future, I would strongly suggest that you stop playing the game (not that I advise that you start).

   Taunting: Required
   Here's how "Heat" points work. Every time you kill someone, capture an objective, do a good job, etc., your Heat builds up as a blue number at the bottom left of your screen. While the number is still blue, it means that the heat has not been registered, or applied to your score yet. As the number builds, you can get an extra bonus called "Heat Collector" which means you built up a lot of heat before registering it. Registering Heat is done by either just waiting, or taunting.
   What makes this bad is a mechanic called the "Death Penalty". If you die while the Heat number is still blue, then you get a "Death Penalty", taking away 25% of the heat that had built up. Taunting is the fastest way to register Heat, and a successful taunt multiplies the heat, up to a maximum of about 40% extra. Basically meaning, if you never taunt, you will find that you've lost a little less than 25% of all the Heat you earned over the course of the match, and many people that got far less kills will have far more points.
   This means that most people in the game don't taunt just to be taunting you. They taunt because they HAVE to, since registering and gaining that extra Heat bonus directly translates to more credits. And you want all the credits you can get your hands on.
I'm not actually enjoying this.
   Announcers: Horrible
   The game tries to have announcers saying random things and commenting about things happening during the match, similar to Super Monday Night Combat. However, in Bullet Run, the announcers are extremely bad. Their voices are annoying, their jokes aren't funny, and they make snide remarks every time you die. Normally, I'd say this is pretty subjective, but every person I talked to in the game agreed with me on that point. Luckily, they can be turned off in the options menu.

   Skills: Imbalanced
   There are eight different skills in the game, spread out across 4 tiers. I can tell you which ones you will actually want to use. In Tier 1, switch to Medigel (Endorphex is default). In Tier 2, stick with Neurofang. In Tier 3, switch to Blastdrone. In Tier 4, stick with Mortar. Every tier except for tier 3 has 1 skill that is completely useless.
   The way skills work is that you start off only able to use your tier 1 skill. The rest are unlocked as you gain Heat points, and generally higher tier skills have a higher cooldown. The skills can be upgraded in the Marketplace to enhance them and, in the case of ones like Endorphex, make them useful.
   Endorphex, the skill you will notice first because it's the default and it's in tier 1, is completely useless. What Endorphex does is heal for 20 HP while also sending you into berserker mode, which forces you to use melee and gives slight damage resistance. What will actually happen is that you will be giving the enemy free points, since killing people that are using Endorphex gives a Heat bonus. Particularly, since non-upgraded Endorphex gives almost no speed bonus and very little damage resistance, your target will easily just walk backward while shooting you with no problems. Non-upgraded Medigel heals for 20 HP, but without sacrificing your life.
   You will want Neurofang over Akimbo because Akimbo is ridiculously inaccurate, to the point of being completely impractical. You will want Mortar over Minigat because non-upgraded Minigat is not only inaccurate but makes you extremely slow and vulnerable.
   My point, and what I've just taken way too many words to say, is that half of the skills in the game are completely useless, while the other half (such as the Blastdrone) are borderline overpowered.

One last screenshot so you can see what the visuals look like.

   Final Score: 2 out of 5

   Despite it's shortcomings, it's still a shooter, and if you just want to sit around and casually shoot people for awhile, there's no harm in playing this. A lot of the disappointment of Bullet Run comes from being mislead by the game's advertisements, and the deception of it's repair system. Not only that, but the whole Death Penalty thing seems to be designed specifically to annoy good players, as you will soon know the frustration that comes from getting a triple kill or higher and then immediately getting shot in the back before you can register all the Heat you gained. That said, if you just want to drop any notions of strategy in an FPS and just let loose, then this is the game for you. It can be a nice intermission between more serious games.

   Extra Things to Know
   - Again, never repair your equipment. Ever.
   - There is no spawn protection in Team Deathmatch.
   - You can switch teams at any time, even if your team has less people on it.
   - Leaving a match mid-way through still gives rewards for the amount of Heat you were carrying.
   - This game does not have an infinite sprint. It DOES have an invisible stamina bar.
   - This game has no tutorial. Just point and click. Press Q to taunt, and E to use skills.
   - I advise against getting a sniper rifle. Only a single map can easily accommodate them, and headshots can be hard with Bullet Run's bad hit detection.
   - This game has an action reload. If you press the reload button at the wrong time while reloading, you weapon jams, resulting in a much longer reload.

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