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Smells like bullshots: 9 notoriously 'polished' screenshots

We think it's important to first offer a brief lesson on the etymology of the word 'Bullshot'. Primarily because it gives us a much needed excuse to post one of our favourite Penny Arcade comics, but also because some people might be a be confused if we didn't.

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Bullshot: A term used for a video game screenshot that is doctored by a publisher to present visuals superior to those in the game itself, thus generating hype for the product (portmanteau of Bullshit and Screenshot)
Gullible gamer: Have you seen the screens for Killzone 2 on the PS3? Those graphics are incredible, Killzone 2 is going to be the greatest game ever
Super sleuth: Mate, the Killzone 2 screens from were complete bullshots. It doesn't look any where near as good as that.


Bullshots come in different flavours, but the majority involve touching up images on Photoshop, or fiddling with visuals and lighting in a 3D rendering program. Regardless of the method, they show something that is unrepresentative of the game.

These days it's much harder to spot a bullshot, as publishers tend to display games running on high-end PCs to source screens. Still, over the years there have been some incredible forgeries and we've decided to collate the worst offenders for your amusement.


Madden 2006

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Bullshot
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Final

It's only right to start with the game and the screens that birthed the term. The Madden NFL 2006 bullshots were released at a time when we didn't really have an accurate grasp of what Xbox 360 and PS3 were capable of, which meant even the most obvious bullshots had a chance of being successfully passed off as the real deal. Case in point: the screen above, which was quite obviously snapped from pre-rendered footage, and looked nothing like the final game.


Amped

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Bullshot
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It didn't take long for the gaming community to tear apart this screen for early (and excellent) Xbox snowboarding game Amped, which looked like it was slapped together using An Idiot's Guide to PhotoShop.

  • Step 1: Cut out decent looking character model
  • Step 2: Paste onto a seperate background image
  • Step 3: Apply the most generic Photoshop lens flare to goggles

Note: You may be asked explain why a character clearly in a standing position is shown to be travelling at 51mph. Ignore these questions. Intended to be a proud showcase of the visual prowess of Microsoft's Xbox, the bullshot backfired majorly when it was discovered that the platform holder was being liberal with the truth.

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