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Bulletstorm Review |

Bulletstorm Review

When I buy a first person shooter I know exactly what I’m getting into gameplay wise. For me the reason I play them is primarily for the story, which to be honest isn’t a major part of most FPS games nowadays. They’ve mostly done away with the story and focused on pure multiplayer elements. Now I’m not saying this is the case with every FPS there is, there are still those that have a good story line, but let’s be honest most of the stories are sub-par compared to other genres.

Your idea of a good story and mine could vary by a lot, so I’m not going to list off games that I like and think stand out above the rest. The only reason I bring up the lack of story is because that wasn’t what drew my attention to Bulletstorm in the first place, it was the gameplay.

The idea of having a real time indicator of the carnage that I’d be unleashing intrigued me. So at midnight on February 21st, I went to GameStop and picked up both Bulletstorm and Killzone 3, then quickly rushed home, popped in Bulletstorm, loaded it up, and began.

The story to the game is fairly generic: a band of mercenaries is out for revenge to kill their former commander, who was using them to kill innocent people by lying about who they were and what they “have done” to deserve a quick death. The main function of any story is to propel the game further so you’re constantly moving to the next objective.

You play through the game as Grayson Hunt, formerly of the secret military group called Dead Echo. You’re accompanied through most of the game with a colleague of his named Ishi, who after an accident has robot parts used to keep him alive, so now he’s basically a cyborg who is always struggling with the AI computer that was fused to his brain. You’ll hear a lot of foul mouthed dialogue between these two, which I’ve read in most other reviews that it “gets tiring quickly and undermines any attempt at serious storytelling” which may be the case for some, but not me.

I love the dialogue! It’s over the top and out of control. It’s not that it’s targeting some hidden, adolescent part of me that prays for chances for crude and rude humor, no; it’s because of who the voice actors are. Voicing Hunt is Steve Blum, who, in my opinion, is the most recognizable voice actor there is (apart from Nolan North now) due to his legendary role as Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop. Though he’s no stranger to video games, he’s done the voices for characters like Ares from God of War, Gene from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, as well as Ramon Galvez Mena in MGS: Peace Walker. Then, there is Jennifer Hale (who does the voice for Trishka Novak, a character you meet up with later in the game, who, like Hunt, has her fair share of raunchy dialogue). She’s done voices for a lot of games as well, but you might recognize her best as Naomi Hunter from Metal Gear series.

Hearing these familiar voices curse left and right is amusing, especially since I’ve been so used to them being these other, more reserved characters. The best example I can give is when I watched Gran Torino in theaters, and hearing Clint Eastwood use those racial slurs left and right made me laugh so hard. They were slurs I’d never heard of, since I didn’t grow up around people who used them, so having him drop one every second was wildly amusing. To think people actually talked (and still do) like that just seemed so absurd, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Just don’t let the writing put you off; it’s all in good fun.

In the beginning, you don’t get access to the oh-so-fun-to-use energy leash right off the bat. You have to wait for the story to advance far enough before you finally stumble upon one of these toys of mayhem. Once you do, you then get access to the highlight of this game: skillshots. With this toy, you get to grab foes from their hiding place and yank them back to you. This move causes them to slow down and hover in the air, as if you’ve caused them to drop into a slow motion animation. The few seconds they’re crippled allows you to kick them into surrounding environmental hazards, such as explosive barrels, cacti, electrical fields, or even off the edge of a cliff. You can even do a power slide into enemies which causes them to go into the same suspended animation.

Bulletstorm Leash

The “kill with skill” tag that’s used is there for a reason,; the more skillful you take someone down, the more points you get. You use these points to unlock weapons, so you’re allowed to buy upgrades, ammo, and “Charge Shots,” which are an alternative fire. There are different skillshots you can perform depending on which weapon you currently have equipped, and each one has its own name to go along with it, such as “Gang Bang,” which involves using the Flailgun, which shoots two grenades linked by a chain causing them to wrap around an enemy, then you wait for his buddies to run by and BAM! You blow those bad boys sky high.

What I love most about these skillshots is that what you do is directly displayed on the screen. So it’s no long the hidden trophy that most games have, where you try to pull off a difficult shot and then wait for that trophy sound to go off along with the window in the top right of the screen. With the text popping up showing you constantly what you’ve done and the points you get for pulling it off, you get a greater sense of reward.

This feedback system is what moves the game along. Each new weapon, as I’ve said, gives you more and more skillshots to perform, each unique to the gun. My favorite weapon by far is the sniper rifle, which, when zoomed in, pops up little diamond targets over each enemy, you then line up your shot and the target goes red, once fired you follow the bullet along until the last few yards when you drop into a bullet time effect (did I mention you control the bullet?! Inorite?), you get to guide it to any part of the guy you’re taking out. The “Charge Shot” for the sniper rifle allows you to shoot an explosive round, sounds awesome right? It gets better. You might be saying “How can that be?” because, not only do you get to control the bullet along with when it explodes, but hitting an enemy doesn’t detonate the round. You can move the poor guys’ body towards other enemies and then detonate it. The camera goes into a fixed state and you only have so long before the round finally goes off on its own, since you’re open to attack still. Though, it’s thoroughly enjoying to take out a whole group with one guided bomb.

Anarchy Mode

The multiplayer component of Bulletstorm is setup for co-op play in the form of a mode called Anarchy, which pits you and up to three others against waves of enemies. You work together to pull off team skillshots, and you have to have decent coordination to get the most points possible since that’s how each round is completed. Between rounds, you use the points you’ve earned to unlock new weapons and upgrade your stats, such as defense or speed. The only downside to this mode is playing with people you don’t know, and having them try to pull off a team skillshot can be frustrating, and I didn’t play it much with friends, so I haven’t spent too much time playing Anarchy.

Multiplayer can be a bit laggy, which, of course, ruins the fun of it. There is a mode called Echoes, which lets you play through segments of the single player campaign with a goal of not only completing them with a lot of points, but with speed. Your score at the end of an Echo round is placed onto the leaderboards, so you can compare to your friends and others.

Bulletstorm has some great visuals to boot; the venues have a lot of color and make the short breathers between fights seem like you’re sightseeing. The soundtrack to the game is adequate, though it feels like there could have been a little more to it, if they weren’t as focused on the visuals and gameplay. Though, really, you’ll be too focused on killing in new and creative ways to really care about the music.

The game moves along quickly enough; broken down into several Acts, each with their own chapters. It took me about 8-9 hours to beat the game, though I played on Hard (I’ve recently decided to play all games on hard for now on, I’m really not sure why I always left them on normal for my first play through) so it might go a little quickly on easier modes.

There was one issue I took note of, and that was a glitch that caused the game to forget that I had purchased the ‘Charge Shot’ function for a gun, and required me to repurchase it with my skill points. This wasn’t a huge issue, and it didn’t happen that often, though it was rather frustrating. I noticed it after I’d die and it would load back up, and I’d try to go to the little store pods to choose different weapons (since you can only carry up to three, and one HAS to be the assault rifle you start with). Another glitch I noticed was if I tried to change weapons in the last seconds when I die, once it reloaded, I would have my machine gun taking up my left weapon slot, with no ammunition in either slot. That was probably the most annoying, since it left me with one gun (though you can survive pretty well using the environmental traps to kick your enemies into). I’m sure these small blemishes won’t affect everyone, since I’ve known people to complain about a glitch in other games that I’ve never experienced, even on multiple play-throughs.

All in all, Bulletstorm is very enjoyable. The story is predictable, and you even know what is going to happen after the credits roll. It’s the gameplay that stands out the most; the constant skillpoints being earned, and using the leash to pull enemies close to kick them into a man-eating plant never gets old. It really is a shame they couldn’t have worked out some sort of competitive multiplayer.

I’d have to give this game a 90 out of 100; it’s a solid FPS single player experience.

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Bulletstorm provided by Epic Games.

  • pedro

    Great review.

    To be honest, I really though this game would suck, however, I was terribly wrong. Everyone seems to like it!

    The reviews are actually better than KZ3!

    I really liked this review because you did it from a single player point of view, and that’s unusual in modern day FPS games, so thank you!

    I guess I’ll rent it as soon as possible to give it a try!

  • I heard some where that it might have sold 4.5 million copies.

  • honestly…can’t get into it that much. I’m playing it right now and its ok, def not bad, def not great either. especially when paired to kz3 imho.

  • There goes Eddie not liking anything I like D: well besides Killzone XD. Just playing.

  • Played the first chapter on PC on saturday, nothing special. Controls and shooting mechanic are weak, story seemed unoriginal.

  • Beastxjason

    I didnt care for it either Eddie.

  • A buddy of mine beat the game in one night! Its fun but not anything special.

  • pedro

    And there goes my theory this games didn’t suck.

  • I played the demo, and it wasn’t for me. Maybe I just didn’t give it enough time.

  • Kratos

    I thought it was ironic that it called other shooters lame and generic or whatever, because when I played the demo it took 30 seconds for it to feel completely lame and generic.

  • dave

    this game looks fun to play, but really I dont know if you can compare this to KZ3, they are both diff. games.

  • The game is undoubtedly fun, but not 9/10 fun. Too many things keep this from being an “exceptional” game.

    First, there’s the fact that, despite their hilarious “Duty Calls” advertising campaign that complains about the copy/paste of modern “shooters”, Bulletstorm is nothing more than a copy/paste of the typical Epic Games shooter formula. Big beefy steroid men? Check. Well built tomboyish woman? Check. Over the top weapons? Check. Over the top gore and language? Check.

    If you’ve played any of the Unreal, Unreal Tournament, or Gears of War games, you know exactly what you’re getting with Bulletstorm. Adding skill points is really the only thing that differentiates it from Unreal Tournament at all (how many skill points would I have gotten for a shock lance combo?), and sliding replaces the roadie run and cover-to-cover mechanic from Gears of War. That familiarity is a double edged sword as it’s familiar, yet it detracts from the game as a whole. While playing I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve been playing this exact same game, albeit with lesser graphical flair, since 1999 (when the original Unreal franchise launched). I won’t even get into how they dissed the way games use bloody screens and the fact that Bulletstorm uses – gasp – a bloody screen.

    As pointed out, the campaign is really short, even if you play it on hard. Once you’re done campaign, then what? Your only choices are coop Anarchy mode or Echos which is just replaying the same levels trying to top your friends’ scores on the leaderboard. The problem with Anarchy mode is two fold: One, it forces you to have 4 players. If you go in with 3 friends, it WILL pair you with a random person who probably won’t care if you’re trying to do the team challenges. The other problem is lag, which can range from no problem at all to almost unplayable. Other games have raised the bar so amazingly high for 4 player coop of this style (Borderlands and Left4Dead [Gears of War 2 and Halo 3: ODST if I include X360 only games], as examples) that Bulletstorm pales in comparison. As for Echos, the mode gets repetitive fast. It’s like the friends’ challenges in BLUR; They were fun for about a week, then everyone moved on.

    Short campaign, shallow multiplayer, and basically the exact same, graphically, as Unreal Tournament 3 and Gears of War 2. I’d give it a solid 7.5 out of 10. It’s worth playing, but I don’t think it’s been worth the $60 retail price.

  • Don’t type while tired!

    “That familiarity is a double edged sword as it’s familiar, yet it detracts from the game as a whole.”

    This should read:
    The familiarity of the game is a double edged sword because it makes anyone who played prior games immediately comfortable, yet it detracts from the game as a whole by feeling unoriginal.

  • @Captiosus I was never a fan of unreal or gears or even Halo. The score is mainly a numerical opinion of the overall experience and not in anyway representing how it would stack up in a “compared to this game” bout. Sure you may score it less, which is fine. Reviews are after all opinion pieces. Halo or Black Ops get high scores, but I still won’t like the games. For me one change to a formula can make all the difference. For example I hated Oblivion, but I loved Fallout 3. It was the V.A.T.S. for me that made it enjoyable.

  • Dynojunkee420

    I didn’t purchase this game but I did play the demo and I did enjoy it. I’ll still probably pick it up. The demo was fun and it looked pretty cool. It doesn’t have to be everything and more, I’m just going to waste a couple hours on it anyway. Hopefully I can pick it up soon!

    Jcmdaddy: For me one change to a formula can make all the difference.

    I fully agree with the above statement, one little thing is win or lose, and that one little thing is different for each of us. Thanks for the review, though at first I thought it was kind of long, it was an easy and enjoyable read.

  • Good review. Played the demo highly doubtful i will get this game

  • Nice review and comments. I’ve been considering picking up a FPS. Maybe I’ll just go with KZ3…

  • Jcmdaddy: @Captiosus I was never a fan of unreal or gears or even Halo. The score is mainly a numerical opinion of the overall experience and not in anyway representing how it would stack up in a “compared to this game” bout. Sure you may score it less, which is fine. Reviews are after all opinion pieces. Halo or Black Ops get high scores, but I still won’t like the games. For me one change to a formula can make all the difference. For example I hated Oblivion, but I loved Fallout 3. It was the V.A.T.S. for me that made it enjoyable.  

    I’m not saying your opinion is wrong, just adding my own opinion to the chorus.

    I just think a 9/10 is too high. Single player beats the pants off of Call of Duty, I’m not going to lie, but I’ve never agreed with the high scores COD has gotten. Sure, the kill with skill function adds a fun layer of replay but, on its merits as a game, even if I were to take away the familiarity of previous Epic Games, Bulletstorm is (again IMO) a mediocre title in a flooded genre. Nearly every other shooter brings at least some form of robust multiplayer, but this one only brings coop and leaderboard challenges. Bulletstorm really is a mostly single player experience, but the campaign is too short, too easy, and holds your hand too much (KICK HERE! LEASH HERE! DOUBLE TAP TO SLIDE HERE!) for me to give it very high marks in that regard.

    ‘What does Bulletstorm bring that is unique?’ is the question I found myself asking. Other than an amazing soundtrack, I just can’t find it. The novelty of the kill with skill function wears off in the first hour and then you start to realize some levels were designed too much around the system (oh, look, a hot dog cart inconspicuously in the middle of an open area). As long as you upgrade every weapon and use them, you’ll get 75% of the skillshots without even trying. There were a few that had me cracking up (like “First In Last Out”), but most of them I earned accidentally and had to go look up in the SkillShot Database.

    7.5/10 is by no means a bad score from me. I rarely give games 9s or 10s because for me a 9 and 10 means the game is exceptional, worthy of immediately running out and purchasing. Unfortunately, Bulletstorm isn’t exceptional, it’s typical. It’s a fun play, but I just don’t see it having legs compared to other games in the genre.

  • Wasn’t discrediting your opinion, in fact its always good to see it from both sides. I agree about the level of difficulty and even the level design. But that could be said about any game with a unique feature, you wouldn’t create a tool and never build things around it.

  • Jonaskin

    I’ll give it a rental I think. Sounds like fun but don’t know if it’s worth full price admission.

  • hmmm good review. I played the demo and i thought it was okay. I’ll have to try it

  • Enjoyed my first play through of this, looking forward to playing through the Echoes mode and finding all the skillshots.

    Love the story and dialogue, a breath of fresh air after Killzone 3.

  • I have the demo but haven’t played it yet. The comments here make me think maybe I should load it up and give it a shot or two.

  • Pros: graphics – fun and hook

    Cons: no replay – not being able to hide behind an object which
    I found too old school – if you like a FPS game without a lot of challenges will enjoy Bulletstorm..