Bulletstorm is pure pulp. The "hero" is Grayson Hunt, a washed-up, alcoholic mercenary whose desire for revenge leads to disaster. Hunt and his half-human/half-computer partner, Ishi, crash-land on a once-idyllic resort planet that's become overrun by mutants and monsters, and their mission quickly turns into a test of survival.

Fortunately, they have first-class armaments. The default weapon is your everyday assault rifle, but it's accompanied by the more exotic "leash," which lets you yank enemies from behind cover. It's so versatile that you frequently don't even need bullets.

Bulletstorm encourages you to mix and match weapons with its Skillshot system. Merely riddling an opponent with bullets is frowned upon; if you really want to rack up points, you can thump a baddie, then set him on fire, then plug him with a sniper shot. Points are used to upgrade your weapons, but true experts will relish the challenge of executing all of the more than 130 skillshots.

It sounds sadistic, and probably is. But the violence comes off as less offensive than the bloodshed in more realistic shooters like Call of Duty. That's because the weapons are so flamboyant, and the Skillshots so defiant of the laws of physics, that Bulletstorm plays more like a parody.

Bulletstorm gives a tired genre a fresh injection of new blood. And guts.

RATING M for Mature

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PLOT Lock and load!

DETAILS Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $60

BOTTOM LINE Gory, profane and fun