|Bullet Witch (2007)
Available for: Xbox 360
Look out! The mutants are taking over the world yet again, all because some jackass made a deal with the devil to bring back his beloved who died in a plane crash. The things people will do for love. Thanks, man. There’s nothing quite like having to deal with a “homicidal virus” infecting people left and right, turning them into ugly versions of their former selves as they become quite handy with military weapons. Everything was about to go straight to hell, too, but fortunately the Bullet Witch came to save us all.
What the hell is a “bullet witch?”
Glad you asked. Well, see, her name is Alicia and she’s come from afar to take care of some business that also happens to be at the center of the world’s mutant and monster problems. Her broom is a massive weapon called the Gunrod, which can transform into four separate gun types on its own. She also has the power to kill with elemental forces like lightning and tornadoes, as well as a bevy of magic spells. She’s a badass, kids. A loner with a weapon. You always have to be careful of those types.
I do want to say that “Bullet Witch” is a blast to play. It’s as simple as that. The game’s ideas are a fresh take on the whole run and gun genre, and overall it’s pretty damn addictive once you get behind the controls of Alicia. However, there are a few problems that some people may find more annoying than others. Even though I personally think this is a great game as-is, the overall rating is lower in light of what is actually wrong with it. Let’s look at those things, shall we?
First off, there’s the whole shooting thing. Anyone who’s been playing a shitload of “Gears of War,” “Crackdown,” or “Rainbow Six Vegas” over the past few months will probably be disappointed with the shooting system of “Bullet Witch.” On this game, there is no precision shooting, so a lot of times it feels like an old PC FPS with quite a bit of strafing and trying to hit the sweet spot on the enemy (the Gunrod’s reticle turns red when it’s dead-on target). This gives the feeling that Alicia is spraying away more bullets than she’s actually connecting with, but sometimes that doesn’t matter, and that brings us to the next “problem.”
The AI is a mixed bag. Sometimes the mutants will absolutely slay your ass in a matter of mere seconds, especially if they get on either side of you. Other times, they’re dumb as dirt and will just stand there, completely oblivious, and will let you in on the easy kill. This is even true of some of the bigger monsters in the game. Strangely enough, this gives the game an unintentional humor factor, especially when it’s combined with the sometimes awkward camera that can go all sorts of wonky when the action gets into close quarters. And hey, there’s even a bit of collision detection missing in places as well, so you’ll be seeing friends and enemies dissolving halfway into walls and the like.
That pretty much covers what’s wrong with “Bullet Witch.” Well, that and the horrible character Maxwell Cougar. This guy’s the definition of cheeseball. For being the leader of the good guys’ military, he’s absolutely shitty when it comes to doing any damage when he’s “helping” you in combat. But screw it. Alicia’s Gunrod and bag of tricks more than save the day by the time it’s all said and done.
What “Bullet Witch” gets right is the combat system itself. Though the aiming system may be flawed, there’s a lot to work with here. Alicia’s magic spells are pretty damn cool, whether she’s sending off a flock of ravens to attack the enemies, shooting out rose petals that turn into a bed of impaling spikes, or saving the near dead by spraying her own blood on them. There’s a lot of variety to play with here, especially when it comes to the elemental spells. Sending a tornado through the area to do massive damage is an awesome sight, especially when the environment is interactive/destructible, causing all sorts of havoc.
Alicia’s Gunrod and spells are also upgradeable with skill points the player receives after finishing a level. For instance, she can add special upgrades to the Gunrod, transforming it into a shotgun, small cannon or Gattling gun, as well as giving her ammo elemental powers like fire and wind. Overall, there’s a lot to work with, and the upgrades can drastically steer the course of the game at times, with respect to how efficiently Alicia will make it through her enemies.
Graphically, the game is pretty damn beautiful, with a boss battle on top of a flying jetliner being especially cool. The characters’ mouths don’t always look like they’re “saying” what the dialogue is saying, but I get the feeling maybe the animations were for the Japanese market. The soundtrack is quite good, ramping up at the right moments in the heat of battle, and getting calmer when fewer enemies are around.To sum up, “Bullet Witch” is a fun game. It might not be technically perfect, but in this case, that’s all right. The Gunrod and spell casting are just seriously cool, and the silly AI can make for an interesting game, which can be amusing as well. If you’re not terribly nitpicky about everything being on the level of “Gears of War” and just want to have some fun blowing up shit and dealing massive damage to the bad guys in new and interesting ways, then “Bullet Witch” is well worth your time.