Bulletstorm – Review.

Release Date: Out now!
Developer: People Can Fly
Publisher: EA
Singleplayer: yes
Splitscreen: No
Multiplayer: Co-op 2-4 players
PEGI: 18

ooters that don’t take themselves too seriously can be hard to find in today’s world. Games like Call of Duty try to provide us with dark and gritty stories fool of woe, and to a degree the story of revenge and redemption in Bulletstorm is still full of woe, pain and plenty of rage. But it’s also full of inventive insults, mental shooting, over the top characters and gameplay that keeps you smiling.
Welcome to Bullestorm. Did you bring enough weapons?

Grayson Hunt is a bit of a….well, he’s a bit of a prat if I’m going to be honest. He’s a foul-mouthed space marine gone rogue, but he’s gone rogue for a good reason. Hunt, his best friend Ishi, and rest of the four man squad are betrayed by General Sarrano leading to a fairly epic space battle which see’s Hunt and companions crashing landing on a planet gone horribly wrong. Predictably the good General has crashed with them. I can feel the blood and vengeance already.
At its core the story in Bulletstorm is hardly award-winning, but amid the mass of foul language, inventive insults and absurdity there is a surprisingly decent tale of redemption. Hunt himself is a loud mouth drunk, and yet it’s hard not to roof for him throughout the adventure.
Ishi provides the logic behind the team, but he’s slowly being taken over by an AI which things purely in terms of logic and is more than willing to use Hunt, or just kill him if needs be. It’s an interesting dynamic and one that sets up for some cool moments.
The vast majority of the story is predictable and you’d have to have been playing with the sound off not to see the “twists” coming.

Bulletstorm is not a game you play for the story though. Hell no. This is a game you play for its fresh approach to shooting things in the face, and on that level it does not disappoint.
The whole game revolves around the Skillshot which hands out points to buy equipment based on how well you kill, and how inventive you are about it.
Simply shoot someone dead and you get a few points. But kick him into a spiked wall and you get more points. it goes on and on with ever more elaborate kills that stem from the three core skills: the slide, Leash and kick.
The slide is exactly as it sounds: Hunt slides along the ground and great speed until he connects with an enemy sending him skyward where he then goes into a gravity defying state allowing you to happily aim him toward something cool, or perhaps Leash him back.
The Leash allows you to grab enemies and pull them toward you where the, once again, enter a gravity defying state.
The kick is self-explanatory: you deliver a massive armored boot to the enemies face and again send them into a floating state for a short time to dispatch at your convenience.
Combine these three core mechanics with the multitude of kick-ass weaponry that Bulletstorm provides and you’ve got yourself an armory capable of demolishing a small city.
Weapons include a Flailgun that fires two grenades tied together with a chain, a four barreled shotgun, a drill gun, and more. And each weapon has a charged mode that delivers big firepower: the shotgun can burn multiple foes alive while the Flailgun will let you slice through enemies.
The game actively encourages you to switch weapons to help further those skillshot points, so you’ll often find yourself launching enemies skywards and then switching weapons to help further the combo.

The end result of this is combat that feels fast, frantic, over-blown and very fun.
Hunt and his enemies can both soak up a lot of damage, and Hunt moves quickly around the field of play so you’re never standing still and you’re never just popping out of cover to try to take an enemy out. Bulletstorm encourages you to go on the offensive all the time.

While the Skillshot system does make for a fun and fresh game, by the end you’re going to be running out of Skillshots and be repeating many of the basic ones. Thankfully this is where Epic seem to have stepped in and provided their experience to help with the games pacing.
New weapons and tricks always come at the right time and get your interest back up, or another one of the games awesome set-pieces will get your blood flowing again.
The set pieces in Bulletstorm are some truly awesome events with highlights including: controlling a massive robotic dinosaur, fighting through a model city and going up against a monster of a boss.

If you can’t be bothered with storylines or cutscenes then Echoes mode is the thing for you. In this mode you play through sections of the singleplayer without the cutscenes and with one goal: Skillshots. You try to score as much as you can as fast as you can so you can get your name up in lights on the leaderboards. it’s an addictive and fun mode that simply lets you get on with the killing, and leaderboards are always encouraging when it comes to that.

Outside of singleplayer you may be shocked to find that there is no competitive multiplayer option. It’s a brave move considering much of the community demands competitive multiplayer with everything, but it’s a move that works as it’s hard to see how Bulletstorms gameplay could have been crafted into such a mode.
Instead we’ve got the awesome Anarchy mode which many will simply write off as Horde mode. And to a degree they’d be right. You face off against waves of enemies with up to three other players, but in Anarchy you need to work together to win. Each round you need to earn a certain amount of Skillshot points to advance to the next round, and at first you can pass these by just killing, but later on the point requirement gets high and you can only complete them by working together as team based skillshots net you big points. It forces players to communicate and work together instead of going lone wolf and the result is a fantastic take on the standard Horde style mode. Throw in the ability to buy weapons and upgrades between rounds and the jobs a good ‘un.

All of this is wrapped up in a graphically beautiful package. Using the Unreal 3 engine Bulletstorm only occasionally sinks back into the bleak colors the engine is often used for. Instead we’re presented with a brightly colored world with a faintly cartoon-esque style.
Huge backdrops filled with cities, mountains and other beautiful scenery fill the game, and there are plenty of other cool moments like coming out of a dark tunnel to be greeted by a huge burning ship.
The downfall, like many games running on Unreal, is the game is prone to texture pop-in.
There is the occasional rough patch but they’re far and few between and certainly don’t ruin the fantastic art-style of the game.
Of course with Epic being involved in the game there is certainly a few familiar sites with Hunts armor bearing a striking resemblance to the COG armor of Gears of War, and mini-boss enemies move in ways that resemble Boomers.

Bulletstorm harks back to the days when shooters didn’t take themselves seriously. The foul language and crudeness of this game attest to that fact and it’s a refreshing change to play a game that doesn’t try to make me feel depressed.
The humour and daftness won’t appeal to everyone, but I can’t deny that it made me smile throughout the game.

The good:
+ Inventing ways to kill people!
+ Over the top mayhem
+ Anarchy mode with friends

The Bad:
– The crude and crass humour won’t appeal to everyone
– Skillshots are great, but can become fairly repetitive


Graphics: 8.5
Beautiful art style and impressive world combine to make this game look great.

Sound: 8
A good soundtrack backs it all up. The voice acting is well done as well even if the actual lines can sound cheesey.

Story: 7.5
it’s not deep, and it’s not complicated, but get past the swearing and this simple tale of redemption and revenge is compelling enough.

Gameplay: 9
How quickly the Skillshots become repetitive are hard to judge, but this game has made me smile more than any FPS for a good while simply because Skillshots are fun, and the gunplay is great. Anarchy mode is a great addition as well

Lifespan: 8
The campaign will last you a good 8-10 hours while Echo mode depends on how addicted you get.
Anarchy adds a good bit of playtime if you’ve got friends to play with, and maxing your level will take a little while.

Overall: 8.5
Cliff  Bleszinski claimed that the Skillshot system would do to games what Gears cover system managed to do. Well, while the Skillshot mechanic is damn fun, it doesn’t quite have that impact.
However, Bulletstorm feels fresh by simply going back to a time when games didn’t have to worry about delivering a dark and mature storyline, instead it provides dick jokes by the tone and frantic gameplay that leaves you smiling.

3 replies »

  1. I’ve just plowed through about 3 Chapters thus far and I’ve loved every step of the way. I’ve had a few friends criticize the game citing excessive use of profanity and some such but I find it adds a rough, gritty and desperate aspect to the lead characters.

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