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The story in Bulletstorm is surprisingly decent, in the sense that a game called Bulletstorm has a story and more so because it’s not complete garbage. Granted, it’s safe to say that it won’t peak any emotions out of you, but it really works for the game. You’re placed firmly in the boots of Gray, a soldier turned outlaw that is being hunted by various nasty people. There is a very brief flashback near the beginning that sets up why your character is on the path that he is on. You can really take or leave the story in Bulletstorm, but the characters are done well and give the occasional chuckle and they move the game along in a way that’s better than just sitting through loading screens.
Meet Hugh Jack-... I mean Grayson Hunt, creative killer extraordinaire
Bulletstorm is completely centred around killing your enemies in as many different ways as possible to score points. These might seem quite arbitrary at first, but the game does a lot more than you might think to explain this element. Almost everything you do in the game will net you points, headshots, groin shots and kicking enemies into barbwire or furnaces. The game is littered with environmental kill volumes like spike walls or bottomless pits, but the main way you’ll rack up points is with your shooting and your leash. Bulletstorm requires you to have pretty good aim as every shot will require you to target a specific part of the enemy whether it’s the legs, head, neck or rectum (seriously). The leash can be used to pull enemies towards you, pull down objects onto enemies or anything else that you can come up with. Every weapon has its own list of unique skill shots and the leash can be used very creatively in the right areas.
You need to be creative to score big, so think before you shoot
You are of course free to play this game as a regular shooter, but it is pretty boring if you choose that option. There is no mandatory element that requires you to perform the various skill shots in order to progress. However, the points you earn by performing these shots are used to buy ammo and upgrades for your weapons. Each weapon also has an alternative fire, which is just an enhanced version of the regular mode. For example, the assault rifle will fire a high velocity round that can kill multiple enemies with one shot, and the sniper rifles controllable bullet can be exploded. These alternate fire modes all factor into unique skill shots that will earn you points; there is no grading system in the single player game regarding the points earned. Although you can get into trouble if you’re too lazy with your kills, on higher modes it presents an interesting balance between surviving and getting a decent amount of points to buy the necessary ammo and upgrades. Bulletstorm has a hidden depth once you figure out the majority of skill shots and more importantly, when and when not to pull off certain ones.
The single player campaign should take you around six hours on the normal setting, which proves to be spot on as the action is constantly being ratcheted up and ends on a high. There are higher modes available but playing on them just isn’t as fun as the lower ones, you don’t want to be cautious in a game with a quadruple barrelled shotgun do you? You will want to run and gun once you get the hang of pulling off skill shots and you have to be more careful than you might want to be on very hard.
Echo mode is the other single player segment present in the game and in this mode points do matter. You are graded on a scale of one to three stars; the pacing for these is a little off though. Some missions require nothing more than selecting your favourite weapons and rampaging your way through, whereas others do require strategy in order to gain the highest rank due to the amount and type of enemies in them. These missions are great for jumping straight into the action; they focus on what Bulletstorm does best and really shows off the quality of the shooting and weapons.
This is actually a skill shot, you're welcome :)
There is no competitive multiplayer mode in Bulletstorm, saying that about a modern shooter might sound extremely odd, but in this game it’s easy to understand. Instead, you have a coop mode where you play as a team of four and work together to score as high as possible. There is a minimum score requirement in order to proceed to the next round but they’re always relatively low when you take into account how much opportunity there is for skill shots on the maps. I found this mode quite annoying when playing with strangers, far too much unnecessary leashing and kicking enemies and no coordination made it either boring or frustrating and sometimes both. This mode is tons of fun when played with people you know, there are coop skill shots and setting these up is just incredibly satisfying and hilarious.
Bulletstorm doesn’t let up with its over the top style, the characters, weapons and environments have somewhat of an exaggerated steam punk look and feel to them. The emphasis on violent kills could easily put you off and come off as a little gimmicky, but if you can look past all that and take it for what it is, there really is a superb game here. Every single gun in the game is immediately satisfying to pick up and shoot; you want to use every gun all the time. The hectic fights and relentless enemies offer a very different experience than any other shooter right now. The game is definitely not without its faults, but none of them are found in the gameplay. If you’re in the market for a different kind of shooter to what is currently on offer, odds are you will eat this game up.