Platform: Xbox 360
Category: 3rd Person: Action
Developer – Cavia
Publisher – Atari and AQ Interactive
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Game Rating: Mature
Bullet Witch was originally released in Japan in August 2006 by Cavia and AQ Interactive. Approximately seven months later, with Atari Europe handling the translation and a limited amount of hype, Bullet Witch arrives in North America on the Xbox 360. After sitting down and playing the shooter for a few hours I started to realize why I hadn’t heard much about Bullet Witch in the weeks prior to the games release. As I sit and write this review I have to note that the game definitely has its moments and there are many great aspects about it, however the game pails somewhat in comparison to many other Xbox 360 third person shooters that are already on store shelves.
In summary, the visuals are a bit of a let down and you cannot help but wonder if the developers took full advantage of the Xbox 360’s hardware. This is evident right from the start. While I was watching the introduction to the game I could not help but feel somewhat disappointed as it looked liked your typical original Xbox cut scene. Fortunately, as the game progressed I was relieved as much of the visuals began to look a little better after my first impression. Some would say that it is unfair to compare Bullet Witch to other major shooters; however the graphics in Bullet Witch could have been so much better on a machine like the 360. Unfortunately, the game comes across as a launch title as opposed to one that is being released 16 months into its cycle of a next generation console.
In Bullet Witch you take control of a witch named Alicia, in the year 2013. She looks very good and the texture of her costume is very slick. I should also note that Alicia’s sex appeal makes the game very much appealing while her facial expressions are very realistic too. Her character's animations also flow very nicely. Alicia utilizes a gunrod that can transform into such weapons as a shotgun, a machine gun and even a gatling gun. Her weapon can also be used to cast spells. Overall, the guns look good but do not deliver in terms of the sound which is discussed later. The enemy AI’s initially look creepy and effective but they do not score high points for originality as it becomes tiresome killing the same looking enemy over and over again.
The environments themselves are good-looking and give you the feeling that you are in a world filled with destruction and riddled with demons. The cities are large and the missions cover a large amount of area. Most of the environment textures are solid and fitting for a post-apocalyptic world. The world is extremely destructible too but much of the larger debris are very blocky and bland.
There is also some concern with respect to the clipping during gameplay. During some levels you are able to run through barrels, boxes and other random objects. In 2007 I would expect that this problem would not exist anymore' unfortunately it is evident in Bullet Witch.
As with the graphics, Bullet Witch's sound could have been so much better. The soundtrack is less than stellar and uninspiring as the music did little to create or enhance my gameplay experience. I actually found it very disappointing and inconsistent. There are even some parts of the game where there is no music at all and it seemed awkward as all you can hear are Alica's high heels clambering on the pavement. As I made my way through the game I found myself searching for the mute button or pausing the game to look on my HDD to listen to some of my own tunes. On a more positive note, some the boss fights do include some pretty intense music. However at the end of day Bullet Witch’s soundtrack is somewhat disappointing.
In terms of the weapons sounds, again I was saddened as nothing is spectacular here. I will be the first to admit I have been spoiled with spectacular weapon sounds from such games as GRAW (1 or 2), Gears of War or Rainbow Six: Vegas, and the bar with these games has clearly been raised. Unfortunately, I somehow don’t believe the developers took note of some of those weapon sounds from any of the shooters mentioned. Overall, the weapons sounds are lacklustre and lack any real punch. Don't get me wrong, they do the job, but they could have been so much more.
Bullet Witch's voice acting can also be greatly improved. Alicia’s voice is alright aside from the typical cheesy lines; however the enemy's voices are dreadful and quite forgettable. Bottomline, much more time could have been spent improving the voice acting and putting some emotion into the characters. Overall the games audio does its job but it is certainly not what we have come to expect in a 360 shooter.
As indicated earlier you play the role of a witch by the name of Alicia who wields a huge gun shaped as, you guessed it, a broom. You are also equipped with different sorts of magic to use. The story takes place in a post–apocalyptic world in the year 2013 where mankind and the human race are virtually extinct and demons have created a world of destruction and chaos. There are many strange creatures that roam the Earth from demons with hugely swollen brains floating in the air to flying fishes to zombie-like creatures that kill civilians and wear their victim's skin. Alicia is also haunted by a spirit that helps her along the way. This spirit is in control of her magic side. I should note that Bullet Witch is a dark game which warrants the ESRB's mature rating. This is clearly evident once you watch the first flying demon with an engorged brain explode. This game is definitely not for the little ones in the house.
Bullet Witch takes you about 6 hours to complete which is a little short for today’s standards. After you have completed the game there really isn't any reason to go back and play it again unless you want the achievements for completing the game on higher difficulties. Throughout the game you accumulate skill points which in turn power up your gunrod and spell abilities. The ability to acquire and upgrade new types of guns and different spells keeps things interesting, but again once you finish the game once there is no replayability.
The controls took some time to get used to as I found the shooting a little wonky. It took some time for me to get the aiming down and I figure it will take others some practice to do the same. The spell wheel also takes some time to get used to but after awhile you will have no difficulty selecting a spell and taking care of business. In Bullet Witch you are essentially thrown to the wolves as the developers didn't include a training/tutorial mission. All I can say is good thing Alicia has infinite ammo because it takes a ton of bullets to take down even the easiest of enemies.
As far as the gameplay is concerned Bullet Witch can get a bit repetitive and even boring at times. Albeit short, the game is a challenge and you will not fly through the levels as we have become accustomed to doing in some third person shooters. Sure this sounds contradictory to my statement how long it takes to finish Bullet Witch, but the game itself is not that long, even with the challenges. Another concern is the lack of any map or directories when progressing along the missions. I found myself running around getting lost half the time or hitting dead ends and there is no doubt that you will too. This was very annoying at the best of times as with such large missions you would think you would have the option of referring a map to guide you along.
Another concern is the lack of multiplayer options. Perhaps in this case it is a good thing as Bullet Witch needs some more ‘tweaking’ before they make the transition to online multiplayer matches. There is an online leaderboard that lets you compare your scores to the scores of other people around the world, but that is not a lot. Additionally, the game supports downloadable content available via Xbox Live.
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