Wednesday, March 9

In case you haven’t played it: Bulletstorm Review (X360)

Bulletstorm chronicles the adventures and scoring habits of foul-mouthed, intergalactic space pirate, Grayson Hunt. Cornered and exhausted, Hunt and his Dead Echo teammates plunge their ship into that of their enemies, leading each to crash-land on the prison/resort/mining planet of Stygia, where gangs of deranged settlers have laid waste to every club, resort and facility that players will encounter. Driven by a desire to clear his name and avenge his compatriots, Hunt and his companion, Ishi attempt to intercept their marooned former commanding officer, General Serrano. There's about six to seven hours worth of narrative exposition (and gameplay) to wade through, and I won't spoil anymore of it for you. The game also features an abundance of coarse language, and the ability to bring death to your enemies in literally hundreds of different ways. It's easy to lose sight of the storyline in the midst of all the vulgar dialogue and ridiculous violence. With that being said, Bulletstorm is at its best when the forgettable plot falls to the wayside through the gratuitous language and violence.

Bulletstorm's core gameplay revolves around Skillshots, which are awarded and scored when the player dispatches their opponents in increasingly sophisticated ways. Headshots are great, but it's better when you slide kick an enemy into mid-air and shoot their head clean off. Every time you come across a "dropkit," you're afforded the chance to not only restock on vital supplies and upgrade weapons, but also read clues on how to perform new Skillshots depending on your progress through the story and the equipment you've acquired. Performing Skillshots earns you points to spend on ammo and upgrades, forcing you to get those murderously-creative juices flowing. Over the course of my playtime I unlocked over seventy-five percent of these inventive scenarios, and while most of them are obvious, there are few that don't draw a wry smile; even after multiple views. Key to many of these Skillshots is the leash, which can be charged with a Thumper attack which sends all nearby enemies soaring into the air (it even suspends them for a short period of time). You can also use the leash to pull enemies toward you for a close-up kill, or you can opt to kick them away and set up some of the more elaborate kills.

Despite the regrettable story that fails to capitalise on the bat-shit crazy action, the campaign in Bulletstorm ranks amongst the more enjoyable in recent memory. The dialogue may begin to exhaust most after the better part of an hour, but the set pieces and gameplay in general elevate the action above the standard FPS fare. Everything about Bulletstorm is huge, grandiose even. There are several memorable boss fights, and plenty of enemies to kill, but it's the environments that make this game. Whether you're destroying imposingly-large mining equipment (and then trying to escape as it collapses), or battling magnificent (and ugly) creatures with a mounted gun on a helicopter: Bulletstorm delivers big action, and on occasion, big laughs too. The selection of weapons and equipment are also worthy of praise. Each gun features an alternate fire mode that allows for more creativity on the battlefield. The pistol doubles as a flare gun, the sniper rifle can be charged with explosive, guided bullets. The Bouncer - which was by far, my favourite weapon - shoots cannonballs that when charged, can be kicked and leashed around the screen to pick up more kills. Bulletstorm's standard action is anything but standard, and calls for creative solutions to some hilariously-violent situations.

Even with all of the over-the-top action depicted on screen, the frame rate never dips, and nor does the quality. The only blemishes appear when you look at human characters up close, as their faces look like they are covered in Vaseline. Otherwise, Bulletstorm will constantly surprise on account of the multiple character models on screen, impressive effects, and stunning environments. It is the best-looking game since Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It's just incredibly unfortunate that something so beautiful has the mouth of a drunken sailor. I'm not just talking about the gratuitous language either. The only sounds that Bulletstorm makes are coarse. From General Serrano's unbelievably-foul mouth to the constant assault of the game's power chord-heavy score: it's what lies beneath the pristine veneer that makes the biggest impression.

With that being said though, the "Echoes," mode is exactly that. Made up of some of the more unspectacular segments from each the game's chapters but minus the dialogue, the Echoes are a diluted and unnecessary venture into score-attack gameplay. I know this may sound somewhat contradictory, but without the cussing and the boss fights, and the absence (for lack of a better word) of hugeness, the Echoes are a hollow representation of the core action found in Bulletstorm's brilliant campaign. Most perplexing of all is that the Echo featured in the downloadable demo featured all of the scripted dialogue from the campaign, whereas in the retail product it is stripped to a muted, unenjoyable race against the clock.

What's worse though is the mutiplayer "Anarchy," mode. The idea behind it is solid. Basically, you and three other players are placed in a small play area littered with plenty of Skillshot-friendly props, and you work together to attain a target score upon either killing a certain amount of enemies or the time limit expiring. Problem is though, I could not find a single match with a solid connection. Funnily enough, I received a constant reminder that I had a "BAD CONNECTION," to every single game I joined. This text prompt never disappeared (from centre-screen, no less); as if the skipping character models weren't a strong enough indicator that I was a proverbial leper amongst the kings.

I know that I've discussed the redundancy of the term "replayability," previously, but Bulletstorm is almost completely devoid of replay value. You could opt to play through the entire campaign again, and that may be fun enough for you; but the Echoes and Anarchy modes were near complete failures. If I could find a solid match perhaps, my opinion would mellow somewhat. For now though, the game doesn't realise its true potential.

7.5/10 - Bulletstorm is a fantastic FPS that introduces some original concepts and weapons that should be experienced by anyone with a penchant for virtual firearms. The campaign is a set of brilliant action sequences punctuated by some of the most disgusting (though often amusing) dialogue to be found in a videogame. As fantastic as the single player campaign mode is, the other parts of the package don't quite measure up to the ridiculously-enjoyable standard set by Grayson Hunt's quest for revenge/redemption in its entirety.


  1. I am considering picking this up, but I just don't know when I will get the time to play it, what with me needing to finish 2 more prestiges in Black Ops to be satisfied (I want to get to tenth prestige just so I have 10 custom classes) and the amazing KZ3 recently landing on my front door step.

    The demo was pretty fun, and I highly enjoyed shooting people in the anus! LOL

  2. It's well worth it Sambo. I personally would recommend a rental, as you can finish the campaign in 6 to 7 hours. Still worth a purchase, but if time is capital go hire it and sit in front of your TV for a day.

  3. I might as well buy it, but I think the purchase will have to wait. Finished KZ3 campaign last night. Was a little disappointed with how it ended, but overall, it was quite a good campaign, as far as FPS go.

    And let's be honest, the campaign is no longer the selling point for FPS. It is all about the MP. I'm going to dive in tonight, so we will see what the maps are like!

  4. You make a good point there Sam; FPS are definitely becoming about the multiplayer. I was unsure about Bulletstorm, wondering if there was more to it than ultraviolence and way too much swearing. The violence and creativity won me over through the demo but the constant barrage of profanity will stop me from getting it. My mouth is dirtier than most but hearing characters hammer on like they do in Bulletstorm is just a little too much for my liking. Like you said Dutch, it's unfortunate that something so beautiful has the mouth of a drunken sailor.

  5. BS only has co-op multiplayer, so this one is very much almost all about the campaign. Definitely recommend a rental TJ. Mute it if you have to.

  6. No doubt BS kind of bucks the trend as far as FPS goes these days. I think the whole appeal of replaying BS would come from trying to beat your own (or friends) top scores.

    I think I will pick it up eventually, and just have subtitles up so I get the gist of the story, while listening to some form of Lil Wayne mixtape.

  7. Scores are only tracked on Echoes from what I could see, and the segments they used aren't half as good when experienced out of context. Such a shame they did away with the co-op campaign though. It would have been awesome. Easy, but awesome.