When I first saw the trailer for Bulletstorm, it seemed almost comically generic, yet another over-the-top gore-fest FPS set in a barren wasteland of mutants, savages and whatnot. Then Fox News printed an article titled “Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?” that described that game as something that, if played for even a few moments, would turn even the most angelic of children into a murder-loving, rape-obsessed psychopath. The article and the trailer seemed to belong on two completely different planes of existence, and I began to wonder about the game itself. Just what is this Bulletstorm?
After completing the solo player campaign twice, and spending about twenty hours in multiplayer, I feel like I can tell you what Bulletstorm is using just six words: Bulletstorm is a lot of fun.
You play as Grayson Hunt – who looks like the lovechild of Marcus Fenix and Wolverine – a drunken space pirate stranded on the planet Stygia, a former vacation paradise gone to seed, overrun by homicidal savages and radioactive lunatics.
The gameplay is both simple and deep. Extremely linear, you basically run from set piece to set piece and battle it out with a bunch of villains. But oh, how you battle it out! Armed with a “leash” – an electric whip of sorts – you snare enemies and then dispatch them via all sorts of nasty weapons. The name of the game here is variety. Grenades, cannons, sniper rifles, mini-guns – each weapon is constantly being upgraded, and the originality of the death-dealing devices is top-notch.
Each kill is awarded points, and the more creative the kill, the more points awarded. Sure, you can just shoot a guy. But you get a lot more points if you, for example, leash him, pull him towards you, stick some grenades on him, kick him back to his buddies, and then explode the whole lot. Learning and implementing these “skillshots” is a huge part of the game, and never got old. Plus, the more skillpoints you earn, the more weapons and augmentations you’re able to purchase along the way, which leads to more skillshots becoming available. It’s a fun, vicious circle where you’re getting new weapons and learning new ways to kill right up to the very end.
This is a very linear game; there’s minimal exploration and only a few collectibles to be on the lookout for. Basically, you go from set piece to set piece and fight. That’s either your thing or it isn’t. Personally, I think Bulletstorm is all the better for it – not everything needs to be a giant open world. Sometimes it’s fun to just run forward and fight, as long as the fighting itself is varied and the scenery beautiful.
And it is. Stygia was once a glamorous resort world, but now it’s been, to coin a phrase, “Raptured.” You run through toppled hotels, trashed amusement parks, busted-up nightclubs and the like.The graphics are great. Normally, I don’t get all hot and bothered by pretty graphics – they’re a nice addition, but never a substitution for quality gameplay – but the graphics of Bulletstorm are noticeably impressive.
The story is minimal, but involving. You’re on a quest for revenge, and anything beyond that would venture into spoiler territory, but I actually found myself caring about the characters. There are just enough twists and turns to keep the plot interesting, but not so much as to bog down the action. The dialogue is outrageously filthy—a creative and non-stop mad-lib of profanity and general smart-assery.
Aside from the campaign, which is, unfortunately, a one-person affair, there’s also an echo mode – where you (again, alone) replay various set-pieces in an attempt to get high scores in short periods of time. There’s also a multiplayer mode, where four people work together in various set-pieces, attempting to collectively achieve a predetermined score in order to move onto the next round – it’s a Horde mode where everyone is contributing to a pool of points.
I had low expectations for this game coming in – at first glance, it looks like it was created for hyperactive, crack-addicted teenagers who laugh uproariously at groin shots. But there’s a lot more to it. The combat is surprisingly deep, and the story suitably engaging. Beware, however, that this game is short – it took me about eight hours to beat the campaign. If you like the campaign a lot, you’ll find plenty to do in the Echo and Multiplayer modes. But these modes are really only secondary to the campaign.
I would absolutely recommend Bulletstorm as a rental to all gamers – it’s worth checking out. As a purchase, however, that’s not a call I can make for you. It’s fast and fun, but it ain’t exactly Fallout. As a reviewer, I can’t tell people that this short, linear, shoot ‘em up game is a “must-buy” or some amazing innovation when it comes to first-person shooters. Overall, as a gamer, playing Bulletstorm was an absolute blast, one of the most flat-out fun games I’ve played in a long time. And, really, when the biggest complaint I have about a game is “I want more,” well, I’d say that game is a success.
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