Quick Review: Bullet Run
A few moons ago (July 31st), a new free-to-play shooter popped up on Steam. Usually, free or not, I wouldn’t jump directly to the download button without previous knowledge of a game. Yet Bullet Run gave me a good first impression as I only needed to read a line or two of features before I began installing.
If you haven’t already guessed: Bullet Run is a free-to-play MMOFPS developed by ACONY Games and published by Sony Online Entertainment. So what makes Bullet Run different from the other, now plentiful, FPS MMOs out there?
Bullet Run’s premise is an interesting one. Instead of two or more generic military factions fighting for the world’s resources in nondescript war zones, Bullet Run is actually a deathmatch reality show. Two friendly sounding chaps commentate while you pla- er, I mean kill each other. Unfortunately, “interesting” is as good as the back story gets. While refreshing at best, the commentators repeat the same ridiculous lines throughout the game and the reality show portion only serves as an excuse to host kill fests across the internet.
Thankfully, the story does add more than just window dressing around the gameplay. Taunting and killing your foes in stylish ways earns you more fans (alas, it is a reality show) and fame. Gaining more fans gets you more experience which, of course, levels you up. Levels do not show power themselves as they unlock more weapons, equipment, and appearance items. You can also equip up to 4 abilities that unlock as you attain more points in a round. These can range between deployable turrets, akimbo pistols, and burning knuckles that do extra damage up close.
The gunplay though, is lackluster. The weapons themselves sound flat and repetitive. This is particularly apparent when multiple guns fire at the same time, which seemingly creates a lackadaisical symphony of dry puffs. One redeeming aspect of the weapons is the Gears of War-like active reload when pressing reload again at the right time will make reloading faster. If you miss the active reload though, your weapon will jam and reloading will be a lot slower. Overall, weapons feel weak when firing and lack the punch normally expected when using a firearm, even for video game standards.
Sadly, the aforementioned directly feeds into one of Bullet Run’s main issues: pay-to-win. Microtransactions once again rule the day as purchasing weapons that other players can’t access with surely give you and your team a significant advantage over the other. Of course, if the normal weapons stacked up evenly against those that are purchased, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Regardless, it can be a very frustrating scenario if you find yourself up against one of these players.
Visually, the game is definitely pleasing to the eye. Weapon models are surprisingly well detailed and characters have a fair amount of customization to choose from. Levels also have a good variety, along with the game types. Team Deathmatch and Dominion are the current types available. The real star of this show is Dominion, which plays out like a King of The Hill and Headquarters mode. Meaning, two zones on the map must be held for a certain period by one team- while the other defends -until they expire. After expiring, the zones later reappear in the same location. Dominion is an exciting and intriguing aspect of Bullet Run as it adds a unique teamwork element not seen in many other FPS MMOs.
Despite pretty visuals and an nice premise, none of it can cover up Bullet Run’s biggest flaw: Pay-to-win is the name of the game. Many publishers these days are finding alternate means to overcome this issue and it appears SOE hasn’t caught up. If it wasn’t for severely overpowered microtransitions and mediocre gunplay, Bullet Run could’ve definitely had a chance to rise above the rest in this crowded genre.