Downloadable content is a turbulent affair but despite the cohorts so vehemently opposed to its very existence it’s here to stay. Gun Sonata is the first pack of downloadable content for marvelous macho space shooter Bulletstorm and it includes two new Echoes and three Anarchy maps.
Unlike the caravan of Echoes maps on disc, neither Guns of Stygia nor Crash Site have been lifted directly from the campaign. Instead they’re a coalescence of recycled assets and components forged from the previous maps: same locations, same enemies, same guns, same skillshots all bundled together to form a vaguely different pattern to blast through as quickly as possible.
Guns of Stygia takes place in the industrial areas of Stygia seen early on in the campaign, beset by the kind of health and safety violations that lend themselves to the decapitations, electrocutions and grizzly murders that were the pulse of the main campaign. You’re limited to just a few weapons but hey, there are already a half dozen maps on the disc like that.
Crash Site slots in later during the campaign by which point you have carte blanche on weapon loadouts and the brain-dead Burnouts have become a regular fixture in the trail of corpses left in Ethan Hunt’s wake. You battle through the putrefying ruins of Stygia, through old buildings home only to debris and nefarious gang members waiting patiently to be eviscerated. Crash Site is cast against a thundery night sky so possesses a moodiness Guns doesn’t but again, nothing much new there.
A couple of jaunts through each map will net you the top 3 star award so that’s about 15 minutes play per map. If you’re lucky enough to have buddies as vehement about Bulletstorm as you’d need to be to throw money at Gun Sonata then you can add a touch more play time based entirely on how enthusiastic you both are about leaderboard positions.
There’s nothing new to Echoes – which isn’t a problem, the original formula was sound – but there’s nothing new to Bulletstorm either. The opportunity to include a few new weapons, half a dozen skillshots or a new enemy type is patently here but People Can Fly hasn’t gone for it. Add to that the fact that few people are likely to be playing the game anymore and the appeal of Echoes wanes: without Bulletstorm compadres, there’s no incentive to replay the maps more than once.
The glaring omission is a fresh list of skillshots. Bulletstorm’s appeal was in ticking off each ludicrous kill, learning which acts of execution to blend for the highest scores and then striving to pull off those tough but rewarding chains.
In that sense People May Fly’s shooter would have been better served by single player DLC; offering the player a chance to acclimatize back to Bulletstorm’s idiosyncrasies and indulge in some new murder methods. By now the staunch Bulletstorm fans lining up for DLC will have most likely drilldo’d a small country’s worth of goons, it’s time for something new. Echoes is a great mode but there’s nothing in Gun Sonata that hadn’t already been committed to disc, it’s just been remixed.
The three Anarchy maps fare similarly. Hotel Elysium has you battling in the foyer of a glitzy but, obviously, ruined hotel outfitted with grandiose chandeliers that can be shot to slam down onto your prey. Villa has a giant bell that possesses the clout to explode enemies in the vicinity on demand and the rather lifeless sewers map has a gas valve that, when leashed, spews forth fire ready to leash enemies into. The maps are petite in size and, much like all those on disc, boast the same enemies arriving in much the same order.
The inherent problem is that the Anarchy mode was never very good to begin with; in fact it’s pretty damn boring and really shouldn’t be the focal point of any downloadable content and for the 25 minutes it takes to run through two Echoes maps and remind yourself that the Anarchy mode was never very good to begin with, the £7.50 admission fee is farcical.