Game Review: Bulletstorm
Release: February 22, 2011
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: People Can Fly, Epic Games
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Players: 1 Player (Campaign & Echo Modes) 1-4 (Anarchy Mode)
ESRB Rating: Mature
Website: Bulletstorm Official Site
With their latest shooter Bulletstorm, the guys behind Gears of War (Epic Games), along with a partnership with People Can Fly, have taken a brave new approach to breaking FPS conventions. Ignore the idiots at Fox News, put your brain on hold, and settle down to pump lead up a guy’s bum-hole, because this one is definitely worth your time.
So you play drunken space pirate Grayson Hunt, out for revenge against the atrocities of his squad’s former commander, Serrano. Perhaps illogically, you crash your ship into Serrano’s giant ocean-liner looking space ship, and you both crash land onto Stygia. This place was made as a planet-wide vacation resort, but due to some mutinous gangs, warfare, and a giant Godzilla monster, that plan sort of kicked the bucket.
The premise and hook of the game is pretty easy to grasp. You have your normal (and abnormal) array of weaponry, but the building blocks of the games’ combat reward system, the “skill shot” is in the leash, the slide, and your kick. Skill shots reward you for increasingly difficult and hilarious deaths you put upon your enemies. For example, shoot a guy in the stomach until he dies? Ten points. Whip out your kick-ass pistol, nail him once in the groin, then knock his block off? One hundred points. It keeps you on your toes and forces you to experiment and think outside of the box constantly.
Some put the story aside because the gameplay is so enjoyable, but, honestly, I enjoyed it. I liked the characters’ growth on one another, their sarcastic banter constantly had me laughing, and it wasn’t overly complicated. It’s kind of the same love I have for movies like Kill Bill; it’s simple and there are no deep and convoluted extraneous details we need to know about. It’s just a souped-up, bloodied and foul-mouthed revenge tale. It has a few twists that make sense in the frame of the narrative, but mostly plays it straight.
The story even manages to give sense to the skill shot system; turns out it was some sadistic training program for new recruits. They’d give them a leash and drop kits and whoever killed the most survived, the others perished. Grayson shows one of his finer moments remarking, “Darwin would have been proud.” But, really, most won’t care. It’s fast, fun and pretty damn satisfying to thump, kick and disembowel waves upon waves of mutants. The points are spent in the dropkits, and they come fast, so it’s easy to be liberal and you can get your favorite guns upgraded pretty fast.
Unfortunately, the AI you fight against aren’t nearly as sly as you are. There’s rarely a moment when they don’t immediately bum-rush you upon sight, and they are constantly running about like idiots. This makes for easy skill shots and combos, which may excuse the behavior, but it just gets worse the more you play. You do get a reprieve from this gripe in the nicely spread out mini-bosses and the last group of enemies you fight, but that’s still about eight hours you spend knocking around dimwitted bone-heads.
But, really, if you’re like me, you won’t give a damn at how enemies seem to always be standing right in front of that electrical wire or treacherous cliff. You’re constantly discovering new skill shots, upgrading your guns, and experimenting on how to get the harder shots, so it’s easy to let the quibbles slide under the carpet. I didn’t even get to touch on the other modes, which add great replayability to the game. Echo takes out all the story and dialog and tasks you with racking up points to brag to your friends about in short-winded mini levels. Anarchy is the four player co-op (and only multiplayer option) where you and your buddies must reach a set amount of points to pass waves of foes. Both are great fun, and I’ve already had hours sucked out from under me playing Anarchy with a friend.
Releasing at the perfect time of year when not too much else is coming out, Bulletstorm isn’t just worth your time, it demands it. I mean seriously, in what other game can you bend over a boss, shoot him in his pooper, and get bonus points for a “fire in the hole” skill shot? None, my friends.
+Colorful language, devilishly named skill shots and a hilarious script; seriously I wrote down some of the swears to try them out myself
+Silky-smooth controls make all the murderous killing easy to handle
+The weaponry is small but sadistically satisfying; from the drilling penetrator to the two-grenades-attached-by-a-chain flailgun
+Perfectly paced with jaw-dropping set pieces and on-rail sections sprinkled throughout…
-…But this doesn’t make up for the lack of bosses; there’s one epic showdown with a giant plant and that’s it, even the final boss is reduced to a set of QTE’s.
-More multiplayer options would have been nice, like some kind of mode where you have to race to rack up points, anything really.
Final Score: 9/10