The first person shooter genre is an overly saturated market with the likes of Call of Duty, Medal of Honor and Killzone getting released every year or two. But it is also safe to say that it is the only genre that can act like a money winding machine for developers and publishers. So how does a new IP like Bulletstorm fit in to the picture? If Bulletstorm would have been just another game with more focus on world war campaigns then it would have lost in to eternity forever. Instead, the talented bunch at People Can Fly went ahead and made something which is genuinely fun and unique while revolutionizing the first person shooter genre forever.
Perhaps one of the worst parts of the game needs to be talked about first which is the awful story. I don’t know why, but every game which has overly muscular-tank like people have a non sense story and Bulletstorm is no exception. You take on the role of Grayson Hunt a.k.a. Wolverine II who is the leader of a secret black ops army called as Dead Echo and you have been tricked in to murdering innocent people, journalist instead of the bad guys by an “oh so irritating” commander Sarrano. Obviously when our hero Grayson gets to know all of this he has no option but to retaliate. But in the process he leads his team in to doom with each and every one of them getting killed except for Ishi who is now a half robot and half human. So the game is all about Grayson and Ishi searching for Sarrano in the wild planet of Stygia.
Bulletstorm had a lot of hype going for its insane weapons and the unique ways you can kill the mutant tribes of Stygia. I am very pleased to report that weapons are a ton of fun and the way you can utilize them to take down your enemies is breathtaking. The developers have implemented a primary and a secondary for every weapon that you will pick up in the game. You start off with the Peace Maker which is nothing but your standard assault rifle, but what makes this gun unique is its devastating secondary attack which will burn your enemy’s skin down, leaving out their bones in the process. The primary attack is a blast too provided you go “full throttle” which will dismember the mutants in to pieces. The Flail Gun was one of my personal favourites in the game; it basically lodges a chain of explosives around your enemy which you can be remotely triggered. The secondary attack will fire the explosives directly without a need for a trigger, which can be used to take out group of enemies. You also have the Bouncer Cannon which will fire a large bouncing cannon ball (doh) which is ideal in conditions where you are being charged by an enemy. Grayson can also use a Turret Gun which is a blast for dismembering a chunk of enemies of together. I know this is brutal but at the same time it is immensely satisfying. There are also sniper rifles in the game but the way they have been implemented is different. Whenever Grayson fires one, the camera will zoom in and then you have to direct the bullet using your analog sticks. Now this might not necessarily be huge change in the way people handle snipers, but still it is a nice touch. The weapons list finishes out with an unsatisfactory shotgun and a pistol that can be used to launch explosives.
One of the things that you will find yourself constantly using is the Leash. It is nothing but a glowing blue grapple which you can use to pull enemies towards you. The combination of Leash and weapons can give you some exciting ways to kill your enemy. For example if you use Leash to grapple your enemy towards you and kick them and then use the Peace Maker at the same time you will get Skill points and a corresponding Skill name which in this case is the “Bullet Kick”. You can also use the environments to take down bunch of criminals by blowing gas tankers or leashing the enemies to spikes, cacti or kicking and sliding them in to electric poles. All of this results in to more Skill Points which you can then use this at a drop kit to unlock some cool upgrades to your weapons, charge shots and upgrade your leash so that it can thump out enemies. You can also earn skill points by pressing button prompts in the game or while making your way across a gap. It obvious to say that the more skilful you are in taking down your enemies, the more points you will earn which will result in better weapons and more fun.
There are tons of enemies in the game and they match the theme of the game surprisingly well. As I mentioned earlier that the game takes place in Stgyia, which was a former resort and the developers have done a great job of making the enemies not only challenging but colourful at the same time. Initially you will fight against a bunch of mad heads called as Skulls and Creeps who will charge towards you hence leaving them open to a leash attack or a kick. You will also face agile Creeps who will fire explosives at you and will avoid your leash attacks; the only way to take them out is to get up close and personal. However the one breed that sends out from the rest of the goons are the Burnouts. These guys are much stronger, take a lot of bullets and generally come in groups of 10-12. There are also bigger species of Burnouts in the game, though there were only a couple of occasions where they will meet you. You can also use enemies to your advantage for example in one of the sections an enemy is using a Mechaton, which is a user controlled dinosaur-mech. Later on you will get chance to control this robot which results in to some fun filled sections which will leave you wanting for more. As is the trend these days, Boss fights are becoming a rarity. There is only boss fight which pits you against the Hekaton which resembles the Rift worm seen in Gears of War 2. Although this battle was short, it was exciting nonetheless.
Level Design is a core aspect of any video game and Bulletstorm does not disappoint. You will come across many situations where you have to use the objects in the level to make it through. Many times in the game I found myself without any ammunition which meant that I had to use the environments to get through. The world is infested with traps, man eating plants and electric poles giving the player enough opportunities to get through the short and challenging single player campaign.
Games built on Unreal Engine look beautiful and Bulletstorm is a sight to behold. Huge structures, excellent representation of a world in chaos, vibrant colours and some great character models make Bulletstorm a attractive game. Many times I found myself stopping for a bit, taking a break from the action and just glaring at the beautiful world of Stygia. First person shooter games are not known for their voice acting but Bulletstorm is a surprise. Grayson Hunt is voiced by Steve Blum who is worked in big games like Bioshock 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops and is obviously the best of the lot. All other side characters like Ishi and Trishka are solidly voiced too. Having said that the game could have done better without the over use of non sense dialogues which for some reason did not made sense to me at all.
After you are done with the single player campaign of the game there is the Echo mode where you can play the single player chapters again. Though this might not appeal to every player but it is nice to way to beat your best time and earn some skill points. Also one point to be noted here is the omission of co-op campaign mode since throughout the game you are always accompanied by either Ishi or Trishka. I think this is a lost opportunity for the developers since the platform was there to include a solid co-op campaign mode. There is also a mode called as Anarchy which is like a combination of competitive as well as co-operative mode. Here you and your buddies can team up to take down hordes and hordes of enemies. The aim here is to collect as many skill points as possible and also beat the combined point’s threshold set by the game. The Anarchy mode is pretty enjoyable, but the gun play may get repetitive after some time.
I have no doubts in my mind that People Can Fly have developed a great game. They have tried to do something different and unique and yet have successfully implemented it, a combination which is a rarity these days. If you had enough of the good guys catching the bad guys type of games, then I would suggest pick up a copy of Bulletstorm now.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
Insane weaponry, fast paced action, Skill points are a blast to earn, Xbox 360 Epic Edition has the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta, Echo mode is a great way to earn more skill points and test your best times, Anarchy mode is a blast, Beautiful vistas, Leash attack does not get old, Deadly ways to take down your enemies.
Single player story goes nowhere, over use of nonsense dialogues, Campaign is short, No single player co-op.
Bulletstorm is perhaps the best first person shooter game I have played in recent years. It not only revolutionizes the genre but sets the “fun” benchmark way too high for future shooters.