There are some games out there that, for whatever reason, do remarkably well in terms of reviews and fan service, but end up falling off the sales wagon completely. Bulletstorm was one of those titles. What’s interesting about Bulletstorm’s case, though, is that it was developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly: The minds behind Gears of War and Painkiller, respectively. Now, I’m sure everyone knows about the mega-hit that is Gears of War and how successful that particular series is, but Painkiller is just as entertaining in its own right. So when there’s this much star power attached to a game, it’s hard to believe it could go so belly up. With all that being said, it seems that Bulletstorm has gotten another shot to meet missed expectations with Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition. So how does it measure up?
First and foremost, the original campaign is still enjoyable through and through. Just to recap: You, the player, take control of Grayson Hunt as you attempt to go after one General Sarrano for causing your squad, Dead Echo, to do some very bad things. This results in you and your crew becoming stranded on a hostile planet where the inhabitants want to kill you, the plants want to kill you, and... pretty much everything else wants to kill you. Honestly, the story is still well told and quite solid for what it is, bringing large amounts of humour and small amounts of emotion to really capture the relationships between characters. The only con I would put against the game’s plot is Gearbox’s inclusion of the Duke Nukem Tour. Yes, as much as it pains me to say, the ability to play as Duke Nukem during the campaign was met with an overall sense of disappointment.
The funny thing is, it feels like Duke Nukem himself doesn’t want to be in Bulletstorm. Spouting out lines like “Why am I here?” that are supposed to be comedic but, instead, end up coming off as if even he realizes that he doesn't belong in the story. Speaking of ‘doesn’t belong’, the way Duke was put into the campaign in general just feels forced and choppy. For example, rather than re-recording new lines for all the characters, Duke is the only one with new dialogue. So whenever somebody says “Isn’t that right, Grey?”, the game tries to explain it away by having Duke mention “That’s not my name” in a vain attempt to not admit that ‘No, really, we didn’t just reskin this character and threw him in.’ Frankly, I could go on for paragraphs about how many issues there were surrounding Duke’s entry into this title, but take my word for it, it’s a poorly attempted transition that, sure, has some novelty to it, but not enough to sell me on the mode. To be blunt, play the Tour, forget about it, then switch back to the original style. The way it was meant to be played.
Moving away from plot and characters, we get into the real meat of the game. The fast-paced, free-flowing, score-based gameplay. If there’s one thing that remains consistent in Bulletstorm, it’s the skillshots; I had honestly forgotten about how hilarious and vivid some of them could be. Skillshots are certain kills in-game that grant you more points than just regular ones. The more points you acquire, the more ammo and bonuses that you obtain. Whether it’s electricity, explosions, or engaging the enemy head on, bigger scores mines bigger payouts. This is definitely helped by the wide selection of weapons that you accumulate throughout the game, ranging from shotguns to drills and even mini-guns. Yes, there’s a little something for all your high scoring needs.
The only real issue that I have about this is that some skillshots are a real pain to pull off. I understand that a game needs depth and challenge, or else you may as well hand the player a trophy and boom, there you go. But challenge and game lengthening additions are two different things. Did the developers include these specific obstacles because they thought it’d be an interesting trial to overcome, or did they include it because it would mean the player would have to try over and over again to achieve 100%? Hard to tell, really, but it is something that comes to mind.
When discussing the topic of design, Bulletstorm is a game that knows what it wants to be. It doesn’t have an identity crisis much like Gears of War, where it tries to be a gritty war drama as well as have its humorous moments. No, Bulletstorm is a fun action shooter that has emotional bits here and there, but nothing that feels like it’s diverting away from what its central theme is. I mean, really: If there’s a section in-game where you head into a disco club and fight monsters to the tune of ‘Disco Inferno’ by The Trammps, it’s safe to say a game isn’t going to take itself too seriously. Which is nice, because nothing says a sci-fi military shooter needs to be gritty. It’s refreshing to see that including aspects like more comedic or more ‘light-hearted’ points in a game, about finding creative ways to dispose of monsters, can work as a concept on its own. Of course, you have to find the right balance between these types of ideas, but I believe Bulletstorm does find that balance.
Despite the rocky start from its initial release in 2011, it looks like Bulletstorm is back on track with an overall decent remastering that fixes a lot, but leaves a little something to be desired. Still, this is definitely a title I had fun going back to and indeed, will have fun replaying again. Until next time!
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Despite the rocky start from its initial release in 2011, it looks like Bulletstorm is back on track with an overall decent remastering that fixes a lot, but might leave a little something to be desired.