Bulletstorm does not redefine the shooter genre. It does not make Call of Duty pointless or Battlefield look like a walk in the park. Bulletstorm deserves its own definition: it’s a merciless, arcade, pulp thrill ride through the bowels of violence and gunplay. Bulletstorm is, so help me I hate saying this, damn near perfection.
Forget the hype and controversy churned up by the likes of FoxNews.com and other outlets looking to skewer this game for stupid reasons before it even hit store shelves. If you’re taking the violence, language and presentation of Bulletstorm so seriously that it causes you to rape and murder real people, you’ve got serious, serious problems. This game is pure fun realized. Heading into it with any other view or objection is just nonsense.
The storyline feels like it was ripped from the plotlines of a Sunday afternoon SyFy (man do I hate that new branding) marathon. It’s not going to reinvent video game storytelling or character interaction, it simply serves as an awesome vessel to give rhyme and reason to the mayhem going down on screen. While the introductions may be a bit on the heavy side, the plot gets out of your way quickly and only shows up to explain the new tier of baddies, locations and weaponry that are about to crop up in your quest.
To that end, this plot works brilliantly. Everything clicks as it should according to the story. Despite the over-the-top, nonchalant presentation Epic and People Can Fly have given Bulletstorm, the pieces of the puzzle have been put together so snuggly that players never have any room to question the absurd happenings in front of them. Bulletstorm comes off as a well oiled machine that runs uninterrupted from start to finish.
Maybe the only negative point regarding the plot line is the end. Not so much the actual end, but the moment itself. Come Act 5, you’ll probably be thinking this sucker’s just about over. You’re given every reason to assume you’re nearing the finish line, but then you’re strung out a little further. This goes on for three whole acts before the game actually wraps up. While that may screw with the otherwise wonderful pacing, I felt myself completely stoked every time the plot gave me a reason to keep playing.
Where dialogue is concerned, this one isn’t for the feint of heart. You’ll be hearing expletives that you’ll likely remember for weeks to come. If you’re playing this game with the proper mindset (i.e. having fun) you’ll chuckle and move on. Because of the writing, and vocab like “Dumb Tit,” Bulletstorm never fails to amuse. Whenever the environments start to get a bit repetitive (which doesn’t last long), the dialogue kicks in to liven up the experience.
The biggest piece of this title is “Kill With Skill!!!” gameplay mantra that’s completely peppered the marketing and presentation leading up to release. You’re not going to lock in and out of cover this whole game as you pop off headshots and clear rooms. You’re going to need to kill creatively, and how creatively you kill translates into better weapons, more ammo, more unlocks and a ton of points.
For perspective, I’ll call myself back to my trip to E3 last June. I got a chance to demo Bulletstorm at E3’s booth. I knew nothing about the game beyond the tutorial video they showed to the lot of us before we had a chance to grab the controllers and play. So I’m playing, sliding and shooting my way through torrents of enemies. My health starts to fade and I turn to the Epic Games employee guiding me through the demo. “How do I pop in and out of cover?” I ask him.
No shit, he looks right at me and says, “Cover’s for pussies.”
He elaborated, of course, explaining that this game was built with intensity and speed in mind. At first it’s a bit tough to get used to. You’ll fight the urge to just rip into villains with your machine gun. But, slowly and persistently, this game introduces new methods of mayhem to you and rewards you with a slew of points. Pretty soon, you’ll start seeing spikes, trashcans and man-eating plants as more powerful and rewarding weaponry than your machine gun and shotgun. You’ll start to Kill with Skill, and that’s the pure bread and butter of Bulletstorm.
I hate to boil the multiplayer portion down to a single paragraph, but this review is getting a bit too hefty for its own good. This game is probably only going to be a must-have multiplayer option if you plan on playing with friends. It’s co-op only. So winning depends entirely on how cooperative your teammates are. I played both with friends and with strangers. As you’d expect, the strangers were very hard to roll with. Each player may have a different experience, but folks seem to treat this multiplayer as it were Call of Duty. They fly solo, steal kills and only go for headshots; instead, they should be teaming up, leashing/shooting/kicking enemies as a four man unit. That hardly happens.
It’s only February and I’ve found myself considering Bulletstorm as one of the best games to come out this year. It’s absurdly fun and built to last. The game is lengthy, gory, comical, challenging, pulpy, edgy, innovative and pure bliss. I can’t recommend it enough.