Bulletstorm- A lesson in bad game storytelling

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#1 Posted by masternater27 (939 posts) -

So, I just finished Bulletstorm, and it was fun, but it fell into every bad storytelling issue that games typically fall into. Spoilers, obviously. 
 
One of the bigger issues in gaming storytelling for me is how frequently games take away control from you during the most intense parts.  A lot of games out there just tell story through cutscenes, imitating movies. Anytime there's a critical point where you need to shoot something you never aim in Bulletstorm, all you have to do is press the right trigger during a large window. One of the most amazing parts about Dead Space for me was the first time you get grabbed by that tentacle and it drags you through the station and you realize "Oh shit, I have to actually shoot this thing, it isn't a cutscene". Why not give me control of my aiming to immerse me in the experience further, at the expense of maybe failing the first time. 
 
Even worse are when you see something huge coming and you're stoked to tackle it, and then everything happens in a cutscene.  The cutscene with the giant godzilla thing is my biggest sticking point here.  The game does a great job of letting it tear up shit in the background while you're fighting towards that building.  Then you spend a minute long cutscene running from it to escape just in time into that elevator.  Why not let me frantically run trying to find a path through while avoiding it?  I know it'd be difficult from the first person perspective, but maybe you could change the camera angle for this section.  I don't know.  I feel like that could've been a really intense scene and it wound up with me just watching a movie followed by a rather dull boss fight.  If I had felt powerless while running from it beforehand it'd be pretty kickass to get some power and into that chopper.  Instead I never felt threatened by the monster at all, because my first actual interaction with it I'm dumping rounds into it from a helicopter.
 
The other main issue for me? Franchise syndrome.  Obviously this game was built as a franchise, and that's fine. But the way the story concludes make the whole game feel pointless.  Games that are built as a franchise need to still leave you satisfied at the end of the first game. Follow the original Star Wars' example. Vader is still out there, so there's still more to finish at the end of that movie, but hey, you blew up the fucking death star.  In Bulletstorm EVERY single person in your squad dies, leaving only the girl you just met halfway through the game.  And what did you accomplish? Nothing.  You didn't kill the general, I guess you killed all these mutants, but they were just innocent people corrupted by the system anyways. And if you want to get all green about it you managed to kill every innocent lifeform on the planet with it.  Good work.  It just feels like a copout because they didn't know how to continue a story in the universe.

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#2 Posted by Claude (16657 posts) -

This game seems dumb. I shouldn't be posting, but I do not wish to play a mature rated game of this nature.

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#3 Posted by masternater27 (939 posts) -

It actually makes you feel for the characters more than you'd imagine with all the what the dick stuff.  It starts out super immature and tones it down quite a bit as you go through the game, or maybe you just get desensitized.

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#4 Posted by ryanwho (12011 posts) -

I really don't get where you or Vinny are coming from, even thinking about the story in a game like this.

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#5 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8734 posts) -

 Wait, you expected story from this game?
 
Ha.

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#6 Posted by Napalm (9230 posts) -
@masternater27: Sorry, bringing up Dead Space 2 in defense for that stuff being "interactive cutscenes," and, "giving me control," voids your entire argument. More than not in Dead Space 2, you either hammer on a button, or literally fire your gun once while you watch something play out for ten seconds before giving you control, and then it repeats it two or three times over the next thirty seconds. Bulletstorm never takes you out on control when you're in the game. You can't say, "cutscenes take control away from me," 'cause they're fucking cutscenes! That's why they are there!
 
Yeah, you don't know what you're talking about. Also, good job on comparing two totally different games.
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#7 Posted by Lemoncookie01 (1663 posts) -

It's meant to be dumb,that's the whole point of the game.

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#8 Posted by DrPockets000 (2877 posts) -

Bulletstorm is about a bunch of dudes killing the fuck out of a bunch of other dudes.  And dick jokes.  We should all be grateful for what story there is.

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#9 Edited by Slaker117 (4873 posts) -
@Napalm:  I think what he's saying is that it's jarring in Bulletstorm, where as  in Dead Space they pull it off it a way that doesn't break you out of the game. True, but don't have much control, but its all integrated smoothly and gives you a greater sense of immersion. It's a perfectly valid comparison. That's not to say cutcenes need to be done away with, I think they still have there place, but I can understand his argument against them.
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#10 Posted by emkeighcameron (1895 posts) -

Bulletstorm is a lesson in bad game storytelling in much the same way that a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is a bad lesson in advanced particle physics theory.
 
Get me?

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#11 Posted by Pinworm45 (4069 posts) -
@emkeighcameron said:
" Bulletstorm is a lesson in bad game storytelling in much the same way that a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is a bad lesson in advanced particle physics theory.  Get me? "
Nah, it's actually just legitimately bad, but then it's "going for that" so that makes it okay. 
 
Kind of like how people who say "your mom" jokes are doing it ironically, and those jokes are actually hilarious. Right? yea.. 
 
That said the story obviously the reason to get the game. But that doesn't really change it's quality.
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#12 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6651 posts) -

Any game that uses the word "dicktits" should be automatically disqualified from having threads like this.

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#13 Posted by MeatBoy (61 posts) -

I just want to add that it´s totally valid to consider the storytelling in this game worthy of discussion. It´s actually a lot better than it has any right to be, considering the marketing.
 
The game gives a bad first impression with the dick jokes etc., but it actually gets a lot better towards the end.  It´s no storytelling masterpiece or anything but it´s a fun action romp with some funny dialog.

That said,  masternater27 brings up some good points about the cutscenes. They should never be used to show you something that you could be playing instead.

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#14 Edited by Vao (348 posts) -

Just finished it tonight, and I know where your coming from. Like others i came off liking the story more then I thought i would and in the end the characters felt somewhat real even 10 min earlier they were sprouting curse words from some random text generator. Cutscene wise i know how you feel, The game has some good storytelling from the prospective of Gray, but they have to ruin it by sometimes cutting to pre rendered videos ( for me looked terrible with compression artifacts on the 360) That look noticeably different and made me cringe every time it happened.  
 
Honestly the story was amazing compared to what i was expecting, has the feel of some over the top 80s action film where you know its terrible but you still come off liking the characters.  
 
Might just be me but i kinda liked the off the wall words they came up with, made for something different the either dry humor or the same dialog that is in most games. 

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#15 Posted by zudthespud (3325 posts) -

I didn't read the post, because I haven't started the game yet, so thank you for the spoiler warning. 
 
I just wanted to say, if you are playing Bulletstorm for the storytelling I think you are doing it wrong. This game has the tagline kill with skill, it's about killing dudes. The campaign was never going to be very deep or meaningful.

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#16 Edited by PrivateIronTFU (3858 posts) -

Meh, who cares? It's a game that rewards you for firing bullets into an enemy's anus. Forget about the story and just have fun with it.

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#17 Posted by CptChiken (2057 posts) -
@emkeighcameron said:
" Bulletstorm is a lesson in bad game storytelling in much the same way that a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is a bad lesson in advanced particle physics theory.  Get me? "
Pretty much this. 
 
Also, it has awesome made up insults... you gotta love that.
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#18 Posted by MaddProdigy (1074 posts) -

On a scale of 1-10 I'd give the story a solid 6 or 7, I have no idea what all these people saying it "doesn't have a story" are talking about. Yes there are holes, but it holds together quite nicely getting you from place to place.

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#19 Posted by Tennmuerti (9299 posts) -

Don't care.
 
I shot a shitload of dudes in various entertaining ways.
Gonna go for a second round of shooting more dudes, while exclaiming things like: WOOOOHOOO FUCK YEA BOOM BITCH HO-HA WAAAAAA EAT BULLETS FAGGOTS WHOS YOUR DADDY ME IM YOUR DADDY YOU MA BITCH HA BANZAI MOTHERFUCKERS BOOM HA MMMMMMMULTIKILL IM THE GODAMN BULLET GOD ... and so on and so forth for a few hours
 
Then maybe pickup Planescape Torment again and enjoy a nice story with interesting storytelling.

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#20 Posted by Rowr (5861 posts) -

The story in this is even worse than Time Crisis >:O

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#21 Posted by lawlerballer (204 posts) -

you're playing the wrong game sir

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#22 Edited by Lilyvalley (66 posts) -

I'm not getting all these arguments that "it's full of dick jokes and the marketing said 'kill with skill'" somehow makes it all right to completely disregard the story all together. There is a story, so is should be discussed and criticized just as with any other game.  

[Spoilers] 
 
Personally, I didn't really believe the moments where Gray or Ishi put aside their macho ways to talk about their past and what they were doing and why, because in the beginning of the game Gray and Rell are depicted as drunken assholes with total disregard for anything but more alcohol and Ishi said something that made it seem as if he was indebted to Gray and therefor that was his only reason for still being on the ship. I don't know, man. I finished the game in 5 hours and because there is obviously going to be a sequal I was left with a feeling of not finishing anything. In the beginning of the game you're an asshole that wants to kill Sarrano and in the end of the game you're less of an asshole that wants to kill Sarrano. 
 
Also, Sarrano's great escape? One minute he's stuck to a wall with metal rods sticking out of him, and the next minute Gray is helping Trischka up from the ground. The minute after that, Sarrano's on the floor pulling a lever as 20 supersoldiers are running into the room. That's what you call "dealing with it", Gray? You suck. 
 
Edit: One more thing. Was it ever explained why Ishi only had to "recharge" once in the entire game? In the beginning of the game he's about to die from it and from there on out he never mentions it again. I guess he was alright with sticking his hand in door controls and getting the juice that way.
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#23 Posted by buft (3409 posts) -
@ryanwho said:
" I really don't get where you or Vinny are coming from, even thinking about the story in a game like this. "
true, this game judged by its story merits is like judging doom by its story
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#24 Posted by Yanngc33 (4551 posts) -

 @masternater27:  are you telling me that you were expecting a good story ? Come on mate you're smarter than that ! All the characters can do is say fuck, shit, dick, tits all the time. They're all massive stereotypes and enjoy shooting shit. I agree with you that the whole dinosaur thing is cheap as fuck but if you actually had to kill him it would have been a dumb ass boss fight. Also, the ending to the game literally spells sequel which is pretty cheap.

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#25 Edited by imsh_pl (4208 posts) -

I agree, I also didn't really like the story. The ending left me with the "What? That's it?" feeling. However, while I thought the cheesy dialogue and cliched story weren't that good, I really enjoyed the game's gameplay. 
 
Bulletstorm solved perfectly the issues I had with the recent shooters (not CoD): first of all, you never get the "I can't use that, I'll need it later" feeling towards the weapons. The game encourages you to use every gun without worrying about the possible lack of ammo, since for using them you'd be rewarded with points you could use to purchase more clips. Secondly, I like how the game gives you the sense of "badassness"; it gives you the feel of being incredibly powerful without being too easy. You know you could mow down everyone with ease, but where's the fun in that? You can just wrap an explosive chain around a dude's head which will give you better in-game reward and is also incredibly satisfying.

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#26 Posted by Mikewrestler5 (638 posts) -

If you want some real storytelling, pick up a book or watch a movie with a deep narrative.

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#27 Edited by guppy (2329 posts) -

why do people go into games with titles such as bulletstorm expecting to find gaming's narrative opus

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#28 Posted by Getz (3764 posts) -
@masternater27 said:
" It actually makes you feel for the characters more than you'd imagine with all the what the dick stuff.  It starts out super immature and tones it down quite a bit as you go through the game, or maybe you just get desensitized. "
Hahaha, definitely desensitized. After you meet the general you realize that all the other characters are old christian ladies.
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#29 Posted by tunaburn (2021 posts) -

i disagree totally. i am loving the game. i liket he story and i like how they purposely made it so over the top. its not supposed to be funny in the sense of "he said dick thats funny" but in the way of "he said dick and he thinks that funny. thats actually funny." way. if its not your sense of humor dont play it. but i think its a great game thats different than anything out right now.
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#30 Posted by Caligula (146 posts) -

I found the story to be rather good considering what I thought would be little to no story it's actually pretty deep under all the Dick Jokes.

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#31 Posted by Vinny_Says (5914 posts) -

The part where they try to escape the bomb room only to end up in the bomb room again was genuinely funny. The part where he kicks a sign just to have the whole street explode was funny. The part where the general is straight up racist with Ishi was weird. There's a story behind all this but none of it is particularly interesting, and at one point those Polacks realized it and just focused on making awesome gameplay with tight controls and an fun kill system. 
 
That's what Bulletstorm is about, and yes you have a right to criticize the story but it's really pointless to do so. 

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#32 Edited by yinstarrunner (1314 posts) -

I think everybody in this thread is HUGELY MISSING THE POINT.
 
Half his post wasn't necessarily criticizing the merits of the story, but the fact that the game relegated lots of cool sequences and fights to cutscenes instead of gameplay.  I haven't even played Bulletstorm, but all you people coming in here saying "durrr the story's supposed to be dumb" without even reading the guy's post somehow manage to seem even dumber.
 
The other part of his post is complaining that the game left him unfullfilled.  It also sounds like a perfectly legitimate complaint whether the story was retarded or not.
 
This thread is a perfect example of people seeing a buzzword in the thread title and assuming they know what the post contains.

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#33 Posted by Tennmuerti (9299 posts) -
@yinstarrunner: 
His last paragraph deals specifically with the story. That's what people are replying to as well.
That said, I personally really enjoyed the story in the game.
And did not mind cutscenes, control is not taken away from you that much imo.
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#34 Posted by sundowner (29 posts) -
@yinstarrunner said:
" I think everybody in this thread is HUGELY MISSING THE POINT.  Half his post wasn't necessarily criticizing the merits of the story, but the fact that the game relegated lots of cool sequences and fights to cutscenes instead of gameplay.  I haven't even played Bulletstorm, but all you people coming in here saying "durrr the story's supposed to be dumb" without even reading the guy's post somehow manage to seem even dumber.  The other part of his post is complaining that the game left him unfullfilled.  It also sounds like a perfectly legitimate complaint whether the story was retarded or not.  This thread is a perfect example of people seeing a buzzword in the thread title and assuming they know what the post contains. "
The problem with leaving some sequences as gameplay is that you're going to have to railroad the player into doing exactly what you want them to do anyway, otherwise it just turns silly. Making it a cutscene lets you do things with the camera that you can't in a first person perspective
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#35 Posted by masternater27 (939 posts) -
@yinstarrunner: You're correct.  My post is more about the manner of storytelling in games, cutscenes versus half-life 2 style.  I do go into a little bit of criticizing the story territory near the end, but mostly I just can't stand how the story is given to you more than the actual story.  Honestly, I thought the story overall was fine for what it was.  The ending left me totally unsatisfied (if I say like your mom hear does that mean I can bounce away all critique of this post because I'm being immature and funny?), but I enjoyed the stupidness and the actual gameplay.  If I was rating the game just based on the playing of it I'd probably give it four stars.  But the way I constantly had control taken away from me during the most intense sequences and then the laziness of the ending obviously written just so they could make a sequel drops it to a 3 on my scale.
   
It's just my opinion, but stuff like this makes me really wish developers handled storytelling more like Valve in Half-Life 2.  It used to not bother me much, but back in the p1/ps2 era the reason all the cool shit had to be cutscenes is because it would be impossible to render that stuff in game. Nowadays it just jars me from the experience, maybe even feels a little lazy.  If they could render that monster in Bulletstorm tearing up the city, and popping out right in front of me, why couldn't I run under it and away from it into that hotel elevator?  Instead I'm left to wait 5-10 seconds while the screen turns black and it says loading and a not in-engine movie plays of my character doing that.  Maybe I'm asking too much.
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#36 Posted by masternater27 (939 posts) -
@Yanngc33 said:
"  @masternater27:  are you telling me that you were expecting a good story ? Come on mate you're smarter than that ! All the characters can do is say fuck, shit, dick, tits all the time. They're all massive stereotypes and enjoy shooting shit. I agree with you that the whole dinosaur thing is cheap as fuck but if you actually had to kill him it would have been a dumb ass boss fight. Also, the ending to the game literally spells sequel which is pretty cheap. "
I totally came into it expecting it to be throwaway, but the last thing I expected was to be left feeling like I did nothing.  All you had to do was kill the general at the end and make the soldiers/federation resurrect Ishi as a full AI as they did anyways and you got your sequel.  Let me feel like I did one damn thing that I can feel good about. 
 
And for the record, I think they could've kept the boss fight exactly the same, but if you had spent like 30 seconds straight up running from it/around it, then when you got to that helicopter you would feel so fucking relieved and awesome as opposed to having to watch a cut scene that took away all tension for me and then made me actually say out loud "Really?" When I saw the chopper.
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#37 Posted by iam3green (14368 posts) -

well thanks for telling me that. i didn't expect a great story from this game because it looked like you just want to blow up and kill things.

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#38 Edited by EveretteScott (1649 posts) -

There's a lot of movies that have ended the same with the whole "what next?" type of thing. So I don't feel like it's a copout at all. I's more surprising when it's done in a game, I'll give it that. We expect games to finish in a nice little package but sometimes they don't. That doesn't make it 'bad'. I for one am looking forward to more shenanigans in the Bulletstorm universe and look forward to killing the General (hopefully) as that guy was a huge dick ass, as they made him to be.

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#39 Posted by SuperfluousMoniker (2928 posts) -

Games like this are why I like silent protagonists. You can make a completely retarded story, but as long as the guy I'm controlling doesn't act like a moron I'm fine with it, because he is me, and potentially just as annoyed by every other character as I am. But when you have to control a Marcus Fenix or Cole McGrath and they contribute to the stupidity, that's when shit gets annoying for me.

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#40 Posted by Dark_Jon (596 posts) -

I seriously hate all developers that start planning for a sequel before the first game is done. "We're gonna make it end here so players can't wait for the second one!" They are so full of themselves it's unbelievable.
 
Going back to what everyone was saying about expecting the story to be dumb, I don't know about you but when I beat games I don't go, "Well that ending sucked, but killing a lot of dudes makes up for it."

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#41 Posted by Chaossebba (312 posts) -

As far as the story goes, there's not a whole lot to it. The whole deal is pretty straight-forward with maybe one twist in it, and that one is quite a twist - silly as it was.  But in a game like Bulletstorm where the gameplay is key, I don't want a dramatic narrative or conspiracies to think about, or the bad guy's motives or anything like that: I want to have fun, and by god I did.
That being said I liked Grayson's character. From what I expected the beginning sets up his character alot better, and I liked the moments where you saw Grayson torn up about some of the consequences of his actions. The thing is, I think of Bulletstorm almost like it was a fruit: a thin peel of story wrapped around a good amount of sweet stuff which is the gameplay.
Not to mention that it looks great.    

dont click below until you're done with Bulletstorm.



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#42 Posted by Edwardryu (445 posts) -

well, people missed a big one. this game was made that way on purpose if you even tried to google for the reason. the story is not the main point. gameplay, system are what this game is great about. actually, it seems to change stereotype of FPS game. so don't judge with story. 

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