Bulletstorm Review

Platform: PS3/PS4/360/XB1/PC
Originally Reviewed: 2011

Prepare yourselves for a breath of fresh air and the most original FPS you will see this year. Bulletstorm is a game that has its tongue firmly shotgunned into its cheek and sets out from the get go to provide the player with no frills, all action awesomeness with a devilish dose of hilarity. Make no mistake, Bulletstorm is a hoot; a ridiculous thrill ride that never lets up on action and carnage.

It’s no surprise to see this kind of approach coming from Epic games. Cliff Blezinski really loves his ‘big and badass’ heroes and brutal combat and Bulletstorm, developed by Epic-acquired People Can Fly, has this in spades. Main man Grayson Hunt is a gruff and grizzled son of a gun and is a real joy to take control of as he wrenches enemies’ heads off and kicks them balls-first into cacti.

The game’s story is your typical affair – Hunt and his team of black ops soldiers realise that their boss has betrayed them by ordering them to kill innocent people and the disgruntled killing machines decide to enact some payback. Turning fire on their leader General Sarrano, both Sarrano’s and Hunt’s ships end up crash landing on holiday resort planet Stygia, which isn’t much of a vacation any more. Hunt and surviving crew-member-turned-cyborg Ishi then set about finding Sarrano and escaping the island.

The story features well-voiced dialogue and an element of humour peppered with plenty of dick jokes. It’s reasonably entertaining, but definitely plays second fiddle to the ridiculous chaos brought about via the game’s excellent skillshot reward system. Early in the game, Grayson finds an item called a ‘leash’ that attaches to his arm and serves as both a combat aid and a tool for rating and rewarding your playing style.

On the surface, Bulletstorm is your typical shooter, but it’s the leash and the skillshot reward system that makes the game so much more than that. The leash allows Hunt to ensnare enemies and hurl them across the landscape. Hunt can rip enemies from behind cover, pull them towards him and, if he so chooses, boot them off the edge of a cliff. If the boot isn’t his preferred choice he can simply pump them full of shells from point blank while the hapless goon floats helplessly in slow motion to allow for a few split seconds of decision-making. Or he can use the leash to rip their head off. Ah, choices!

It’s the wealth of decisions that can be made add to the fun of Bulletstorm. The game inspires completely maverick behaviour. Gamer’s thought processes are no longer about popping from behind cover and when to move forward. Now, the player can charge headfirst into a mass of enemies and decide which enemy will get kicked into a cactus and which will have an explosive chain wrapped around his neck.

Killing has never been so much fun, and Bulletstorm adds a tactical approach to the mayhem with the aforementioned skillshot system. Every weapon has a list of different kills a player can perform that come with varying reward bonuses based on the difficulty and originality. Skill points are awarded for the more mayhem you cause and these can be used to maximise the firepower of your weapons or buy new and more ridiculous ones.

Bulletstorm is definitely a game that rewards the player for being creative with their kills. Not more aiming simply for headshots here, and that’s exactly what makes the game so refreshing. FPS games have become so stale recently that it’s such a relief that a developer has finally decided to try something different, arguably with the most success since Half Life 2.

But Bulletstorm is not the finished article at all. The story, while being well voiced, is pretty standard fare and the game isn’t all that long. Once you’re done with the story mode there is little else to keep you going in the long run. The Echoes mode allows players to attack certain 2 or 3 minute sections from the story mode and try to get as high a score as possible. While this is good for leader board lovers, it really doesn’t push the boat out in quality level. Playing a 2 minute section of a level you played 5 hours ago is not that much fun.

Multiplayer is usually a huge staple of Epic games (hey, Unreal Tournament was pretty much just that), but in Bulletstorm is a huge let down. There is no competitive multiplayer at all, which is a huge disappointment as being able to leash your friends and boot them into cacti would be a riot! Instead we are left with essentially a horde mode where four players take on waves of computer-controlled enemies and try to outdo each others’ scores. It doesn’t really work and the game suffers from too many cooks spoiling the broth. Four players going after one enemy just gets messy.

So a let down in the long run, but Bulletstorm still gives such a fantastic core experience that anyone who enjoys playing games to have fun cannot afford to miss this hilariously brutal and fantastically innovative shooter. There won’t be another game out like it until Epic and People Can Fly make the inevitable shooter. And when they do, if they can turn a great idea into the full package we could be looking at one of history’s greatest ever shooters.

Alex Aldridge 

GRAPHICS

The typical quality we’ve come to expect from Epic. Huge muscular characters with masses of blood and explosions. The setting can be slightly repetitive, but looks beautiful all the same.

9/10

GAMEPLAY

Like a breath of fresh air with just a hint of splattered brain (whatever that smells like). Scoring system works brilliantly to add new ways to kill – all hilariously brutal. Some of the most fun you’ll have this year.

10/10

STORY

It’s a little clichéd but it works for what it needs to be – a reason to mutilate, although it is a little short. The voice acting is excellent with Grayson dishing out the macho quips like a pro and the superbly voiced General Sorano being the perfectly hateable foil.

7/10

REPLAYABILITY

The echoes mode adds some replayability but is technically no more than tiny chunks of the story mode you’ve already done sans the story. The echo sections don’t add any extra bits or set pieces, and the multiplayer is little more than echoes mode with 4 people which gets a bit overcrowded at times.

6/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

In the short term it’s worth whatever the trade in value is. It’s a game big on substance but small on longevity and with no competitive multiplayer to keep it alive, you’ll be handing it back pretty quick. The short story mode makes it perfect for renting.

£25 – £30

OVERALL

A real balls-out, fun-focused approach to first person shooting. Bulletstorm is an absolute riot and has tonnes of laugh out loud moments thanks to the brilliant skill shot system. Not much to do after the story’s over, though, and the multiplayer is a real letdown.

 8/10

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s