First impressions can be deceptive and never more so than with Bulletstorm.

At first glance it's almost impossible not to write it off as a first-person shooter of the dumbest kind: a game packed with adolescent humour that revels in wanton destruction and slapstick murder.

Blood splatters everywhere, opponents are sent flying when shot and the heroes could be the space-faring descendents of the hillbillies in Deliverance. In short, a game tailor made for the Beavis and Buttheads of this world.

There's nothing wrong with that, of course. As any seasoned shooter fan knows testosterone-drenched, ultra-violence can be thrilling. But with the shelves groaning under the weight of first-person shooters, you need a very good reason to opt for a game that seems so basic and primal.

Especially when Bulletstorm's multiplayer mode, where up to four players work together to fend off repeated waves of attackers, is positively embryonic compared to Call of Duty and Halo.

But Bulletstorm is nowhere near as dumb as it makes out thanks to its "skillshots" concept, which rewards the stylish slaughter of the enemy hordes.

Shoot an enemy in the backside and you score a Rear Entry bonus. Kicking an enemy off a cliff gives you a Vertigo skillshot. Using your whip-like electric leash to impale an attacker on a spike lands you a 'Voodoo Doll' bonus. In total there are well over 100 skillshots to perform and combine, and every one you perform gives more points to spend on extra ammo and weapon upgrades.

This might sound unimportant, but what it does is change the way you play – drastically. In most shooters the goal is to kill fast, but the skillshots approach makes how you kill more important. Instead of shooting on sight, you start scanning each area for opportunities to perform new and creative ways to deliver skillshot-winning kills.

The result is a shooter than is more thoughtful and less frantic than its coating of comic-book violence would suggest.

And while it's the skillshots make the game unique, there's plenty of neat touches and surprises along the way that help to make Bulletstorm a cut above the average shooter.

The sniper rifle is a joy to use, allowing you to steer bullets as they home in on fleeing enemies in the hope of delivering a Rear Entry skillshot. And the sliding in and out of cover combined with the weighty movement of your character makes the action closer in spirit to Gears of War than Call of Duty.

Even the dialogue rises above its apparent stupidity at times – not least with its tongue-in-cheek reference to the homoeroticism of its steroid-enhanced space marines.

Bulletstorm isn't perfect though. As mentioned earlier its multiplayer mode is underdeveloped and the solo campaign, for all its glorious twists and turns, sometimes sags.

But with its focus on creative kills, Bulletstorm is a step forward for first-person shooters.

Stuff says... 

Bulletstorm review

A first-person shooter with hidden depths, thanks to the skillshots approach