Bullet Time HD is a dual-stick shooter that you don’t have to pay a single red cent for the opportunity to play. You play as John Irish, a man who looks like some version of The Punisher, Frank Castle, minus the giant skull on his chest. As it turns out, Irish and Castle have the same reaction when their families aren’t safe, and that’s to shoot everything even remotely responsible, requiring guns and more guns.
So Mr. Irish grabs some gear and sets off for the wasteland, where he blows away various types of mutants. Along the way, he can retrieve silver and the occasional rare crystals from his fallen foes, all of which can be spent on upgrading his arsenal.
You’ll also find chests along the way, but you have to stand in front of them until a timer ticks down before they’ll open. It’s easy enough in theory, but any sort of action from Irish disrupts the process and makes you have to start over. ‘Any sort of action’ includes shooting, which you’ll need to do periodically, as it turns out there are mutants who don’t like ‘normies’ rummaging through their stockpiles.
Balance is key.
Every so often, you’ll find a checkpoint which saves your progress. From there, you’ll be able to return to the menu and slide over to the game’s shop, where you can buy better guns, items to increase your attributes, and more. There are other items you can purchase during gameplay by pausing and shopping, which can increase speed, defense, and more, but these power-ups don’t last long. Worse, these items must be selected in real-time, which can be a hassle as mutants swarm you from several angles. A subscreen would be much more welcome.
Another feature is the multiplayer mode, which works with Game Center. You can join with friends or random strangers to try fending off as many mutants as possible to earn extra money. When/if you die, you’re kicked right back to the title; a ‘continue’ option might have been nice.
Overall, it’s not a bad experience, but it does have drawbacks which make it one of ‘those’ games… twice over. The first drawback is less about the game, and more with the platform: the old virtual joystick. This game requires fast reaction times, and the onscreen dual-sticks aren’t always up to the task.
Though truthfully, this is one of the better games we’ve played to use this control style. It can still be a little awkward to hold (especially if you don’t want to cover your speaker), but it works pretty well. The movement seems smoother than the firing, which when combined slows you considerably.
The second is expected from free-to-play, and that’s the fact that if you want to get anywhere at a reasonable rate, you need to pay for it. Odds are you’ll die in the game, even on the easiest difficulty, and while you keep any money earned, it comes at slow rate relative to what you’ll need to buy better stuff. Even health kits come at a premium.
So there are two options: keep playing, killing, and dying until you earn enough to get what you need, knowing you’ll get there eventually, or break out the Visa to shell out for silver and/or crystals, which don’t mix; you’re usually going to pay for something in silver, or in crystals.
With currency, you can purchase better guns and enhancements, but even then, those are only going to take you just so far before you have to upgrade again. It’s an ongoing process, and while fun, it’s not so fun that taking on the same few baddies in a group over and over has lasting appeal.