I already found the first images of Bulletstorm to be phenomenal, but I was concerned about the gameplay. Can this game glue gamers to their controllers? After all, it all just comes down to killing your opponents in different ways. Won’t this game bore easily? At E3 last year I got a brief opportunity to check it out and found it incredible. Now that it’s finished, the question remains: is this really enough to keep you clustered to your screen?
Those that expect Bulletstorm to be a game with a serious story are plain wrong. The tutorial already starts shallow with the protagonist, Grayson Hunt, and his from Rell who heavily intoxicated try to shoot a bottle that stands on the head of a prisoner. It immediately makes it clear that the story doesn’t mind some dark comedy. The main line is about revenge on a former army general and a bunch of deserted space pirates. They crash on a colorful planet that’s filled with crazy hostiles who would love nothing more than to get you under the ground. Surviving and finding the insane general are your mission.
The story isn’t really a reason to pull the trigger. That’s where the well implemented skillshot system is for. The more unique your kills, the more money you get with which you can unlock new weapons and killtypes. The huge skillshot database can be checked out while playing and it will detail how you have to do a specific kill and how you can grow your score even more. Most of all it challenges you to try out new things throughout the entire campaign.
Of course this skillshot system would be worthless without some impressive weapons. My favorite one is without a doubt the Flail fun. It shoots off two grenades that are connected by means a of chain. You can have the chain do the work through decapitation, but you can also shoot it around a hostile and then kick him towards a group of enemies that are running up to you to then create a mass dissection. Next up is the Boneduster, a four-barrel shotgun that’s perfect for tearing an enemy to pieces. If you prefer bruter tools the Penetrator may be something for you. It shoots a drill with which you can nail foes to the wall while the drill keeps spinning for a few seconds. Gruesome! Every weapon also has a more “pleasant” second firing mode but this needs different ammo which is less easy to get. If you prefer mano-a-mano combat there’s a giant foot or an electrical whip at your disposal.
Once you’re through the campaign you can get going with the Echoes mode where you need to get the highest score possible in mini-levels from the campaign. The fast gameplay is even more important if you want to end up high in the leaderboards. If you prefer online then you can choose for Anarchy which resembles the gameplay from the Horde mode in Gears of War and where you need to kill waves of enemies. However, the co-op aspect is of even more importance than in Gears here. If you want to earn more XP you’ll have to work together with others to perform skillshots. Good communication and motivated friends are key.
Graphically you immediately see the Unreal engine going full speed ahead. The biggest difference with other games is the bright color palette. The jungle-like surroundings look very vivid with a big diversity of plants and beautiful backgrounds. The indoor locations have the necessary details and beautiful lighting effects. The voice of Grayson Hunt is very well done by Steven Blum who we also know as Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. It brings the perfect atmosphere and suits nicely with the sometimes stupid jokes. The rest of the sound effects are as we expect.
Those that buy Bulletstorm will probably be surprised by the high pace and the quality of the skillshot system. It makes that you constantly want to try out and discover new things. The story could be better and the Echoes mode could use some more work by not just recycling environments, but these minor issues don’t counter the fun this new game offers. Bring on the sequel already!