(And I am all out of both ass and bubblegum.)
Admittedly, a truly awkward title, but I also intend to discuss People Can Fly's upcoming Bulletstorm in this article, and I couldn't in good conscience name yet another article something like "The Coming Bulletstorm."
Often I link other articles for background material, but today, I will embed videos. Please be warned that if you watch any of these videos, there are swears, violence, and blurred nudity. If this sort of thing will be offensive you probably don't want to read the rest of the blog entry either.
I had this conversation with other gamers, about Bulletstorm potentially being controversial if the mainstream media should key on to it. And though we can't be sure, I really hope that it does, and they do. Critics of game violence had already been certain that "Beautiful Escape" existed long before it actually did: a game where one gets points for executing more exquisite torture on helpless victims. Along those lines, a high score is awarded in Bulletstorm for more creative and vulgar kills on your victims. This kind of "style" system has been done before in titles like Mad World, but Bulletstorm takes this to another level. In Bulletstorm, point values for doing the same kill style twice are lower, so that one is encouraged to experiment with new ways to kill.
Murder simulators, indeed.
Obviously this is done in a comical, over-the-top sci-fi fashion, with disposable minions and rampaging dinosaurs. The game creators have cited Kill Bill as an inspiration, a movie that uses huge splatters of gore in a way that is in turn an homage to old Hong Kong cinema. But Mortal Kombat in the 90s was also hugely comical and over-the-top, which didn't stop critics from labeling its cartoonish fatalities as the most realistic gaming violence ever conceived.
Duke Nukem also stands the chance of being reasonably controversial (for reasons other than its delayed release date, which has been discussed to death). That trailer above (the uncensored version was shown at PAX) has more censored body parts male, and female, than I have seen in any trailer for a console game release. Sure, Dante's Inferno had lots of breasts, but in the end this game was more controversial for its advertisements. Duke Nukem really stands a chance of raising a stir with its content - its treatment of women where even female aliens are sex objects, its vulgar dialog, and, like Bulletstorm, its intense and gory violence.
This is the same year where the Supreme Court is finally going to tell us whether video games have constitutional protection as speech, or should be regulated as if they were pornography. So this is a great time, the right time, to release games that are going to push that envelope as far as it can go. I've been saying for a while now that, in order to get critics to understand that games really can be for adults, and are a legitimate form of grown-up entertainment that grown-ups can enjoy, they need to follow the path that cartoons followed. They need to release a game that's shocking, vulgar, and a hundred-percent self-aware, to the point where it can't be denied. The game would have to be not only a violent game, but a commentary about violent games, designed to elicit a reaction from its critics that it mocks just by existing. There will be controversy, certainly, but at the end of the day the critics will have to throw in the towel because of this 30-ton gorilla of a thing. Postal 2 almost stood a chance of being this game, but it is too-frequently taken seriously by the critics of gaming as if its message of vulgar violence was sincere. Bulletstorm, Duke Nukem Forever, they also stand a good chance of being this game.
In other words, we do not need, and may never get "Our Citizen Kane." But we do need, and may get, our "South Park: the Movie."