Bulletstorm is a dickload of fun.
During the past few years the FPS market has been dominated by one juggernaut franchise, Call of Duty. Ever since Infinity Ward released Call of Duty 4 back in 2007, the franchise has grown to be the biggest selling entertainment franchise of all time and widely acclaimed by players and critics worldwide. This lightning in a bottle that is Call of Duty’s success has been sought after by many a developer, some outright attempting to emulate it in their own games. People Can Fly however have no interest in making their own version of Call of Duty and instead stick up a massive middle finger in the direction of the franchise. Whilst this middle finger was prominent in the mini-demo released to promote Bulletstorm -‘Duty Calls’ a satire on the Call of Duty franchise- it is also prominent within Bulletstorm itself.
Bulletstorm places you in the role of Grayson Hunt, former leader of the elite black-ops squad ‘Dead Echo’ turned space pirate, out on a quest for revenge after discovering his boss, General Sarrano, used him and his squad to assassinate innocents, whom Hunt was told were otherwise. After making a less than sober decision to attack Sarrano’s flagship, both ships are left with massive damage and crash on the nearby planet of Stygia. Whilst Hunt’s crew survive the crash the locals are less than hospitable and kill two of his crew members, leaving Hunt and a part-cyborg Ishi, to find a way off world. The story doesn’t deviate too much from the standard revenge-to-redemption template with necessary character development being a little cliché at times but there are enough twists to keep you engaged with the storyline.
Arguably the best part about Bulletstorm is its script. It’s rude, witty, and simple juvenile, but due to its self-aware tone, and balance of genuine wit with over-use of curse words, that the game is able to pull this kind of humour off without coming across as a ‘fungal rimbjob.’ Whilst the game’s script is sold, its voice acting is as well, successfully bringing the script and characters to life. There were many times throughout the game where I would let out a good chuckle due to the absurdity of the conversations between Hunt and the supporting characters, as well as their comments about the situation they were currently in. Whilst this kind of humour probably won’t be for everyone, it made the experience of playing Bulletstorm all the more pleasurable for me.
The main selling-point of Bulletstorm is its frontline mechanic ‘Skillshots.’ The game rewards you for butchering your enemies creatively with ‘Skill Points’ which you can then use to purchase ammo, weapons and upgrades. There are a variety of SkillShots to accomplish, some weapon and/or environment specific, each with their own creative title which all fall in line with Bulletstorm’s tone; Premature, Dino-Sore, Fire In The Hole, to name a few. The weapons which you use to accomplish mass-murder offer a decent amount of variety and all feel satisfying to use. The telekinetic whip which you can also use to assist in your slaughter also has a great feel to it, with a great electric graphical effect to accompany it. The controls for the game also feel tight and responsive, allowing the game to maintain its moderately fast pace without control issues.
The aesthetic design of Bulletstorm seems to have been influenced by Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, which isn’t hard to imagine due to Epic Games’ involvement with the game’s development. However, the way in which the game brilliantly differentiates from the two franchises is by its extensive colour palette. Elysium, the resort on Stygia, is filled with a variety of vibrant colours with many levels straying as far away as possible from the typical grey-browny palette that is seen far too often in games using the Unreal Engine. Bulletstorm maintains this level of quality on the technical side of visuals. However, there were a number of poor textures that were noticeable both up close and afar, and there was also some mild texture pop-in.
In terms of replay value there are two other modes for you to indulge yourself with after finishing the campaign, Echoes and Anarchy. In the Echoes mode you replay through certain sections of the game and attempt to rack up as many Skillpoints as possible in the quickest amount of time in order to gain the highest star rating. Whilst I had fun with Echoes for an hour or so, after finishing each stage and reaching max rating, I see very little point in revisiting the mode. There is also a co-op mode ‘Anarchy’ in which you and up to three other players take on increasing waves of enemies and attempt to reach a certain amount of Skillpoints. Both of these modes feature a leaderboard system for you to compare and compete with friends and other players worldwide. The co-op mode is really fun to play, with some unique team Skillshots to accomplish, so long as you are playing with people with which you can communicate and play together with to a certain level of success. There were many times that me and my team would fail a wave due to someone not communicating and failing an easy challenge.
Despite the few noticeable technical issues I suffered during my playthrough, and featuring humour that won't be to every person's tastes, I had a dickload of fun with Bulletstorm. The ending to the game provides comfortable room for a sequel and I wholeheartedly wait with titty-fucking excitement for the next instalment in this promising franchise. (This review is dedicated to Waggleton P. Tallylicker, may he rest in peace.)