BulletStorm (XBOX 360) Review
At first glance BulletStorm comes across as a rowdy, boisterous FPS title without much depth or any sort of storyline. Not much was done to change that perception in the run-up to its release as developers People Can Fly seemed content to pander to the meandering masses. Keen to be considered different from the average, serious, war-torn FPS games that have become the norm (Call of Duty, Battlefield etc.) EA released a Call of Duty spoof entitled Duty Calls. The short game summed up everything that the dev team found boring in the CoD series in hilarious fashion, the question is: Is BulletStorm really so different?
Well the short answer is... Yes, totally. We play Grayson Hunt, the most wanted man in the Galaxy and a former Black Ops operative with enough testicular fortitude and testosterone to put Stone Cold Steve Austin to shame. Grayson was once part of Dead Echo, the most elite squad in the Galaxy and the personal go-to-guys for the evil General Sarrano. After being betrayed by the general Grayson and his comrades went on the run and began living the life of Space Pirates, yet their quest wasn't for treasure; it was for bloodshed and revenge. Their chance at revenge soon comes and after heading on a suicide mission against the Generals ship the Dead Echo squad find themselves stranded on a world filled with deadly mutants and dangerous plant life. Weighed down by guilt and hatred the drunkard Grayson and his side-kick Ishi Sato must escape and exact revenge upon their former commander - BulletStorm style.
The plot seems old and blasé yet throughout the course of the game it's strangely involving without ever really giving players anything else to work with. The back-stories of the characters are expanded through various conversations and the history of the now dangerous and inhabitable planet are also brought to the players attention should he pay enough attention to the backdrops and scenery during the game. That's a lot easier said and done though when all manner of creatures crawl out of the woodwork with only one thing on their minds - kill Grayson and his followers.
It wouldn't be a first person shooter if we didn't have the means to dispatch of these creatures and this is the area which sees BulletStorm eclipse other titles in the genre. The number of weapons in BulletStorm is huge and when we take into account that each weapon has a secondary function, whilst the environment can also be used intelligently to disintegrate or crush enemies, players will be hard pressed to use everything during their first run through the game. The fantastic Leash, a Confederate energy weapon with an invasive artificial intelligence will become vital in pulling off exquisite kills and crazy combos. Wrap the Leash around an enemy and hurl him into his comrades in slow motion before disintegrating them with the hilariously named Bone Duster - a quad barrel shotgun with enough power to blow a hole through a bank vault.
The thing that makes BulletStorm so much fun isn't the storyline; it isn't the mechanics - which are actually pretty damn good or the commentary that comes with them. It is the ingenious inclusion of the "Skill Shot". For every kill players are challenged to make it stylish or just plain brutal and awarded with points depending on how cool the kill was. A straight kill with the Carbine will earn players 25 points whilst targeting the enemies privates - and no I don't mean his lower classed soldiers - will earn players a bonus. There really is no limit in ways to kill people and soon enough players will find themselves slow-mo kicking an enemy into the sky before hurling him into a group of mutants and finishing them off with the Flail Gun - a ridiculous weapon which fires two grenades, chained together, at lightning speed to both immobilize and disintegrate our foes.
Points earned can be exchanged for weapon upgrades along the way which encourages players to run wild with their imagination when it comes to eliminating enemy foes as doing so will open up new worlds of possibility. Despite a storyline that's entirely predictable the characters stories will keep players interested when the brain-dead shooting and mindless explosions become tiresome. Both Grayson and Ishi Sato continue to develop as characters throughout the game whilst potty-mouthed female side-kick Trishka adds a new dimension to the team. The only character that players wont fall in love with is General Sarrano who remains a complete ass for the entire 9 hours of play time.
All of this is before we come to the multiplayer elements of the game. The game mode we fell in love with was "Anarchy", which is BulletStorms variation of Horde in which four players earn points through Skillshots or environmental kills in order to reach enough points to unlock the next section. On the other hand "Echo" asks players to work through moments of the single player game - stripped of their narrative - and score as many points as possible, placing the highest scores online for all to see and beat. We would have loved to have seen an old school Deathmatch mode in here as testing our wits against friends and foes would have provided plenty of laughter. Lets hope the inevitable DLC brings a few surprises on the Multiplayer front.
The beautiful backdrop of the planet Sygia looks like a mishmash of Las Vegas, Disney World and the Amazon rainforest. Given that it used to be a holiday resort the world is filled with stunning landmarks and colourful scenery, whilst People Can Fly's artists have been allowed to run wild with the creation of the monsters and mutants, making them look like a sci-fi geeks dream. Although the cut scenes can look cartoony at times they do add well to the overall storyline, so much so that we would consider it criminal to skip them.
Anyone who takes offence to bad language or crude remarks should play with the volume down as from the offset BulletStorm makes it clear which sort of market it's aiming for. Our main character comes from the John Saint John school of badass all American heroes whilst his slightly less intense side-kicks can be just as rowdy for spells of the game.
Gunfire sounded realistic whilst the explosions reverberated around our living room as though we were right amongst the action. When the initial giggles at the school playground scripting inevitably end, players begin to accept it as part of the games long lasting appeal.
It's clear for all to see that People Can Fly have tried something very different with BulletStorm. Gone are the serious Hollywood movie style cut scenes and storylines, replaced by nothing but wise assed jokes, crude remarks and bad-ass action hero shouting. Gone are the realistic environments and missions which require careful thought and consideration, replaced by hyper paced "I can shoot more bullets than you" playstyle not seen in a long time. Yet hiding behind the layer of manliness and idiocy is a truly brilliant and smart game which brings thrills and spills and will have players laughing until they cry.
The type of player who enjoys a game like BulletStorm doesn't care about the grease stain on his t-shirt from yesterdays 32oz steak, he wouldn't fruit his beer and won't eat a pie unless there are horns sticking out of it, he has tiger blood. It's a game for men, by men, and anyone who loved watching The Expendables will be hooked by BulletStorm. Get out and buy it now, man.
||Meaty weapons and solid controls mean pulling off the unthinkable is possible. Add that to the Skillshot feature and wiping out legions of foes has never been so fun.
||Beautiful world and realistic looking characters are enhanced by the fantastic lighting and solid game engine.
||Hilarious jokes and potty-mouthed remarks from start to finish, it's not a game for the easily offended.
||With around 8-9 hours of gameplay in single player it's not huge. But the Multiplayer elements make up for it, the only thing we found it was lacking was a Deathmatch mode.
(Not an Average)
||It's like being transported into an action movie. From start to finish players will be laughing until they cry at the nature of the game whilst the involving storyline of each character adds a serious element to the game. A classic.