Alicia, the svelte star of Bullet Witch, looks like a fantasy girl drawn by a 14-year-old solely for the purpose of masturbation. And her game has the same problem: Wicked-looking illustrations of apocalyptic wastelands and giant floating brains try to conjure a supernatural atmosphere, but the tired fights and glitchy execution soon ruin the vibe.
Which is a shame, because the witchiest parts of the game are compelling. The back story not only explains why a pouty teenager wearing a scarf for a skirt is walking around hefting a "rifle broom," it neatly ties her to the disaster that brought civilization to its knees in the first place. And once in a while, the gunplay against the scuttling packs of zombies gets truly ferocious. But sloppy mistakes weigh down the good moments. The controls handle like a milk truck; the chunky levels give you too few clues on where to walk next, but no incentive to wander around; and when you get to the first boss fight, you're actually supposed to run away.
Beyond the game: Bullet Witch has no multiplayer mode, which is reason enough for XBox Live fans to give it a pass. But in the months to come, you'll be able to download new schoolgirl, secretary, and pixie outfits—and for this target audience, that's almost as good.
Worth playing for: The few great setpieces—like a battle outside an airplane at 10,000 feet, or a fog-cloaked, ghost-infested forest—serve as reminders of what the rest of the game could have achieved.
Frustration sets in when: While the effects look fantastic, your spells are always a few button-clicks away, and setting them up breaks the flow of the battle.
Final judgment: Would've worked better as a Boris Vallejo calendar.