I remember some time ago reading about the imminent release of Bulletstorm but I sort of glazed over as I read through the synopsis of the game, to me it looked like another “bro” game…y’know the likes of Gears of War, Halo and Madden etc. The game was to be filled with gun toting, snorting buff guys making gay jokes while being ludicrously invincible as they ran through and laid waste to entire planets.
That doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest…but I figured I’d give it a shot after seeing someone at our recent LAN playing it and you know what? It was completely worth getting, the game is amazing, hilarious and chocked full of fun.
Bulletstorm is a first person action shooter developed by Epic Games and People Can Fly who are the same people who developed the much loved bro game classic known as Gears of War so you know its gonna be good. They also enlisted Steve Blum to be the voice actor for the main character Gray who I now know as the awesome guy who voices the Charr in Guild Wars 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXVqa675BSI).
The game is set a few centuries in the future and its centred around a bloke named Grayson Hunt who once lead a black ops squad but turned rogue after they found out they were silencing civvy’s and murdering journalists, Grayson then plotted revenge against the man who set him up, General Sarrano. In a booze-fueled attack, Gray takes out Sarrano’s flag ship known as the Ulysses and in doing so loses his entire crew except for Ishi Sato who survived only by resorting to cyborg implants and bio-processing units which now seek dominion over his brain.
We follow the story as Gray goes on a quest for atonement to once more kill Sarrano but at the same time get his only remaining friend Ishi off the planet they crash landed on and to safety as the only reason Ishi suffers is due to Gray’s reckless behaviour. Along the way we expect to fight humans, mutants, hyper mutants, Godzilla, a bad ass chick and Sarrano himself.
In the mean time however we get treated with some of the most delicious eye candy I’ve ever seen thrown out of the Unreal Engine, and honestly this engine just doesn’t stop performing. I thought I had seen it all once Mass Effect 2 had shown the muscle of Unreal but Bulletstorm played a checkmate against Mass Effect in its massive environments.
I could honestly rant about the graphics forever but lets be honest, you didn’t come here to talk about pretty coloured pixels now did you? You wanna know about the action…everything else is just a big lump of icing on the cake eh?
Let me tell you this, the game is relentless in its pacing…there is only two types of pace you get:
1. Sauntering about a pretty landscape and
2. Chaotic shoot out.
Occasionally you get the option to relax but 80% of the game will have you hurtling yourself head first towards any enemy you can find, so you can kinetic kick the prick in the face and because of this, the game is so damned hard to put down. There’s no rest breaks…just one fight after another and you’d think that would make it tedious and old but that’s where the developers grab you by the balls and twist.
Just when you become accustomed to your enemies, they throw in a new set of enemies in a completely different environment…you have to think on the fly how to beat these new enemies with your skills and sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes even the environment itself will attack you with the likes of man-eating plants and explosives scattered around.
The game boasts a varied arsenal of hilariously enjoyable weapons, however you can only carry three at any given time, one of which must be the standard assault rifle…which doesn’t really matter as any of the guns will get the job done and its entirely up to you to choose which you like best.
Each of the guns brings something to the table called “skill shots” which are essentially neat ways to kill an enemy and as Gray so heartily yells in one particular fight “Killing is art!”. For example the shotgun can give you a skill shot for dismembering the entire upper or lower half of an enemy however that’s only the easy and boring part…the fun part comes in the semi-unique equipment you get to combo into these skill shots.
This game grants you some crazy awesome stasis-kinetic boots which will not only send the enemy flying in which ever direction you are facing (cliff, spikes, pool of acid) but will also suspend them for a few seconds in slow motion giving you the ability to dismember them at your leisure. You also get what’s called the “leash” which does the opposite of the kick and it will whip out and drag the enemy towards you where they will promptly float in suspended animation for a while, this can become hilariously entertaining when you leash, kick, repeat on a single enemy till he is completely battered to death and all the while he simply cannot attack back.
The skill points you gain from doing these borderline insane attacks can be spent getting ammo (which you never run out of any way and even if you do you still have your kick and leash available) and the points can also upgrade weapons. Each weapon boasts a second ability which can be costly to purchase ammo for but is usually worth the entertainment you will garner from it. My favourite was the four barrelled shot gun which would spray an area with flesh melting ammo which would turn anything in front of you into a gory soup. Or maybe it was the penetrators drill cannon that you could fire into one person and then fling into another, which would then treat you to the spectacle of two mutants flying off into the distance stuck together with a rocket powered drill bit.
Just to make it all more fun though, you can get drunk while fighting by finding liquor bottles lying around, this makes everything all blurry and hard to hit and if you slide you just sort of slide all over the place without too much control. But you’ll gain a serious amount of skill points for each kill you get.
My major qualm with this game props up about here…while the combat was very entertaining, it was simply too easy. I played through on the standard “normal” difficulty and the only times I would die is when I was bugging out and getting stuck in objects, notably a man eating plant. I struggle to wonder how the easier difficulties played as normal mode was a breeze.
Protip: Slide everywhere. EVERYWHERE!
The slide ability you have will propel you in an easily manoeuvrable state about twenty metres in whichever direction you are facing while crouched. Not only that, it is faster than sprinting and while sliding your boots act as kinetic kicks so any enemy you touch gets stasis attacked.
Long story short: You are harder to hit, move stupidly fast, can turn around corners easily and anything you touch becomes an easy kill…
But just as you thought it couldn’t possibly get any easier, the developers give you a pat on the back with the alternate fire on the penetrator. The gun spins up and while it is in alternate fire mode it becomes an insta-kill melee weapon which can be difficult to use while standing…but hey when you slide into them it automatically hits them and on the off chance it doesn’t then the enemy is flying in slow motion right in front of you so it is seriously hard to miss.
Oh yea did I mention that the melee attack consumes no ammo?
Unfortunately all games these days need to include character development or plot of some sort. I expected Bulletstorm’s to suck…and for the better part it did, well…mostly.
Initially it all starts out with a plot of revenge but turns into a plot based on grown-up “atonement”. Gray realises he is a dick head for effectively sentencing his entire crew to death and seeks to at least help his last remaining semi-friend Ishi, along the way however he meets a girl Trishka which turns out to be the daughter of a person they had killed back in their black ops days (which you actually play out – saving the girl and all). Trishka eventually learns of the secret and all hell breaks loose, Gray is forced to man up and try and worm his way out of it with the clichéd ”you have every right to kill me” speech.
Well, while that might be the plot in a nutshell, the character development is infinitely cooler. This game is pack full of gruff and burly men insulting each other in friendly military banter and you will come to adore the comments they throw at each other. Gray’s over-confidence and reckless behaviour, Trishka’s calculating and demanding demeanour and Ishi’s robotic lunacy. However my favourite part was when Sarrano comes into the mix, he has some of the most pathetic yet hilarious insults I have ever heard.
To put it simply, General Sarrano is the most egotistical, racist, pig-headed prick known to mankind. He spends almost every second of his screen time insulting and demeaning Ishi and Gray by referring to them as his little babies and hurling racist remarks at Ishi relentlessly…of which my favourite is “Get moving sushi dick!”. The language throughout the entire game is designed with the “bro” game mentality in mind…plenty of dick and gay jokes. Its sad how you come to like them after a while in their crudeness but it doesn’t really take apart the fact that its still crude and silly.
In the end then, Bulletstorm is a completely over the top chaotic fast paced shooter that sort of takes itself seriously in some cases. Its highly enjoyable and I would recommend it to any one wanting something that’s mindless and action-packed. In hindsight however I’m not so sure how the graphics would hold up on consoles as I played this on PC which a decent video card, so I’d be interested to know if anyone out there played this on console still saw it as pretty as I did.
So yea, get this game if only for the amount of fun you will have sliding to victory in the single player, I have not yet tried the other modes but I can sort of guess that co-op modes and multiplayer will only serve to easily increase the life of this game.