Bullet Witch

Format: Xbox 360

3 546430 128558
Age Restrictions: 16+
09 March 2007

The year is 2013 and a bleak planet earth sees human kind on the brink of extinction with hideous demons creating a tidal wave of destruction and havoc. All hope of mankind's survival rests with Alicia, a witch blessed with magical skills and a swift trigger finger...

Bullet Witch is so close to being a great game that it is almost criminal that the end result is so far removed from what it could have been. With just a tiny bit of tweaking, a little more attention to detail, and this could have been an instant classic. The graphics are impressive, the gameplay addictive, but there's a whole canister of Mr Sheen missing, which results in this not being as polished a game as it should have been.

The game really throws you in at the deep end. Not knowing what the controls are you are immediately confronted by a handful of zombie soldiers. This gets the old blood pumping as you head for cover and try and work out how to aim and fire your gun. It's here, while randomly punching buttons, that you realise that you don't really have a lot of combat options. Okay, there are the numerous magic spells you can cast (only a couple of which are available at the start - but more on that subject later), but as far as physical combat is concerned all you can do is fire and hit the enemy with your gun. After a while the fact that you can't really upgrade your weapon in the early levels to anything more heavy duty means that you have to rely on using magic for most of the bigger enemies you confront (like tanks).

I also found it disappointing that in the early levels there was only one style of zombie soldier to attack. While they do have different weapons, graphically they all look the same. This is even odder when you consider that there are several different skins for the few civilians roaming the streets. Obviously the you could argue that as you are fighting zombie soldiers dressed in uniform they are bound to all look alike, but it would have been better if there were some larger soldiers or ones with limbs missing - anything to make it a little more interesting. While we are on the subject of the soldiers, their A.I. leaves a lot to be desired. I know they are zombies, and possibly a bit slow on the uptake, but really they are so blind at times, that it's embarrassing.

As you progress through the levels you gain the ability to perform a range of different spells. With these, Alicia can turn a city into a sea of roaring flames, cast a deadly meteorite shower, invoke a devastating tornado or assemble a murder of crows to consume all which lie in its path. The only problem with the spells is that the game insists on baby-sitting you through them. So, for example, you can only destroy the tanks with lightening bolts. Miss and you are in trouble. And, while you are messing around trying to cast the spell, the enemy can easily waste you. Maybe a better way of configuring this would have been for the action to pause while you cast your spell - because you know what you need to do, it's just navigating the annoying menus that is a problem.

Alicia's spells are slowly made available to you and the results are pretty entertaining; be it the catastrophic summoning of tornados to rip through the city, or elegant spells such as her rose throw where the roses' stems lance enemies. Alicia's hefty staff-like weapon, the Gun-Rod, helps to defeat the hordes of demons by firing bullets created from the souls of her defeated enemies. If you stick with the game, the Gun-rod can be transformed into an even more powerful weapon to completely obliterate those who stand in her way.

It's odd because the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am by the missed opportunity that this game could have been. Sadly the end result is a pretty looking offering that just doesn't quite manage to deliver what it promises - and that is such a great shame, because underneath all the mess is a fantastic game just waiting to burst out.

Nick Smithson

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