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There hasn’t been a game this immature since Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64. Bulletstorm is a balls to the wall first-person shooter that’s a mixture of Duke Nukem 3D and Gears of War. It doesn’t shoot for a story that you’re going to golf clap afterwards, and it doesn’t try to revolutionize the genre. What it does bring to the shooter genre is something the genre long forgot this generation: how to just have fun. It encourages brutal violence through a “kill with skill” system that gives you objectives to slaughter foes in certain ways. Bulletstorm will take you to the simpler times of the first-person shooter in a sci-fi atmosphere that is not only fun to look at, but fun to kill in.
General Sarrano, apart of the Confederation of Planets, is the antagonist here and apart of the secret army, Dead Echo. He leads groups of soldiers into missions that slaughter innocent victims. Years ago our hero, Grayson Hunt, discovers he’s been lied to so he decides to take revenge on Sarrano. Years after the event, alcoholic Grayson decides to fight a battle with hired mercenaries to battle Sarrano, only to end up crash landing (with Sarrano) on the planet Stygia. So now Grayson isn’t only looking for revenge, but he’s also trying to get off of this planet, which is filled with savages. Luckily, he’ll have help with a Strogg-looking cyborg colleague, Ishi.
As far as the story, it’s pretty simple for the most part and is probably only there to keep the “story crowd” entertained. The story and dialog never take itself too seriously. During the story, you’ll hear profanity spew out of their mouth, and a lot of sexually charged profanity. Don’t worry; if you dislike strong language, you can mute most mature language in the options (along with turning the gore off). The innuendo isn’t only limited to dialog. During your killings, you’ll probably notice a few of them pop up on the screen after getting a skill kill, such as the “Shocker” or “Gang Bang”. Aside from all of the silliness, the game’s serious side actually could have been done without. The more goofy the game’s dialog was, the more it fit with the actual game. But the seriousness and emotion they tried to put into the game every once in a while turned part of the game into what it was trying hard to parody.
Despite all of the story, for better or worst, the game brings to the table what it promises: over-the-top gratuitous violence. The linear campaign will last about 6 hours, which seems to be the new average for shooters. It’s also a very easy playthough, even on Very Hard. It’s ultimately a cake walk that never feels too punishing. Through each act, you’ll unlock new weapons and skill objectives after you’ve discovered the energy leash. The energy leash is your alternative attack that lashes out at an enemy and pulls them towards you, or with a power-up, will slam energy down to the earth and knock them high into the air for slow-motion killing. The slow-motion is really amazing and fun to play with. When you pull someone towards you, or kick them in the air, they’re temporarily slowed down so you can get an easy kill with a headshot or something of that sort. Everything else will move in normal motion. But while an enemy if flying to him doom, you really get to pick how you kill your victim. You can kick them off the map, into spiked cacti or electricity, or just shoot them with your arsenal.The skill shots system is one of the key elements to the game. As mentioned above, a lot of the names for these are filled with innuendo, but all of them will make sense while you discover them. For example, the “Rear Entry” skill is performed by shooting an enemy in the butt until he dies. The list is incredible for the amount of damage you can inflict on enemies. The more weapons and upgrades you purchase from strategically placed drop shops (stores), the more skills you’ll unlock. These skills are viewable by pressing select on your controller, so it’s always there to check what skill you need to try next. Each time you discover a skill kill, you’ll enjoy it each time. Not only will it increase your score drastically, you’ll find it funny how you’ve discovered them. As stated, you’ll buy new weapons to play around with, outside of the basic assault rifle, kick, and slide. Weapons range from explosive cannon balls to your base shotgun. Each of them have their own alternative attack, or charge attack. Each of these charge attacks unlock even more skills to shoot for (no pun intended).
During my play through, I did run into a few glitches that really put a damper on the game’s pace. During Act 4, I was rushing through the level to get to the boss quickly. When I arrived at the area I was lead to, I noticed the boss never spawned. I restarted the checkpoint, still nothing. I had to restart the chapter to actually get the game to load the boss correctly. There was also a few other glitches I ran into. My friendly AI team crowding me in a doorway and causing me to stick for a few moments in the door. However, for the most part, the game runs fine and doesn’t really have any issues.
The game is something to look at. It’s vivid and colorful. Usually in a game like this, you’d expect the tone to be rustic, but the game is full of plant life, colorful destroyed cities, and that crimson spray from enemies. The game isn’t a 1080p title, but it still looks great still. It might just be all the chaos or the sheer environments that is the true eye candy. You’ll never experience a frame rate dip that causes you to miss a shot or anything. Bulletstorm runs smooth, and for this type of title, that’s better than the visuals alone. Accompanied with great visuals is a great sounding game. The music is adrenaline pumping and the voice acting is key on. It’s a complete package with it’s eye and ear candy, not to disappoint the reasonable.
When you’re done with the campaign, you’ll get to enjoy two different modes. Echoes is a time-trial run of Bulletstorm. You’ll be challenged to try and pull off as many skill kills as possible, while rushing through a level. Each level (and then some) from the campaign is available to run through and try your shot at the leaderboards. If you happened to have played the demo, you’ll understand how this mode is. The other mode you’ll play through is Anarchy. Anarchy is much like the Horde play of Gears of War. It’s wave after wave of enemies, each wave increasing the difficulty and amount of mini-bosses on the playing field. This mode can be played with a few friends, and the game encourages so by introducing enemies to “Double Team”. When you “Double Team” an enemy, it requires you and a friend to perform certain skills to get more points. You can play Anarchy solo, but the key to this mode is playing it online.
Bulletstorm is going to satisfy those awaiting Duke Nukem Forever (another title which is bringing old school shooters back), or just those who want a break from the modern warfare titles that are being milked right now. It’s a lot of fun if you’re not expecting game of the year material. It’s a throwback to the past, a kick to the future, and it takes a shot at taking your gaming too seriously. If you play games for the fun of it, you’ll find much pleasure in this title.