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Bulletstorm Review

Review; Apr. 19, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
An old school FPS, now with F-bombs

Bulletstorm is a love letter to old shooters. The Duke Nukems, the Serious Sams, and the Painkillers. This game is crude, crass, and juvenile. It lacks subtlety and contains some of the most unlikeable protagonists I have ever played. It is everything that keeps video games from being considered a serious art form, and yet it's still a ton of fun to play. Bulletstorm isn't concerned with K/D ratios, customizing weapons, or $15 map packs. It's all about taking out enemies in the most creative way possible. It's pure visceral combat and pulls no punches for delivering it.

Bulletstorm Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

Bulletstorm stars main character Greyson Hunt, a surly space pirate who, along with fellow cyborg Ishi Sato, are hunting for a former squad leader, General Sarrano, after you discover he has led you on a murderous killing spree all in the name of eliminating innocent people whom you thought were criminals.

After an early run-in with Sarrano's ship, you crash land on the planet Stygia, where you soon find yourself facing a variety of enemies ranging from crazed gangs, cannibals, man-eating plants, and Godzilla-sized lizards. You'll come across a feisty female soldier named Trishka and traverse a wide variety of environments from the stereotypical warehouse and sewer levels to more exotic locations like wide-open vistas and valleys nestled between waterfalls.

The one thing that helps to make this game larger-than-life is its enemy encounters and weapon selection. This game has some of the largest bosses to grace an FPS, with man-eating plants and giant spinning wheels of death. It takes more than simple guns to bring these abominations down, making Bulletstorm's arsenal more than welcome. Sure, there's your standard assault rifle and shotgun, but what makes them unique from other FPSs is their sheer size and firepower. The guns in this game are huge, and the damage they cause is equally as huge. The typical shotgun frequently blows the legs and torsos off enemies, and a sniper rifle's bullet can behead an enemy in a spectacular bloody mess. As you progress, the more exotic the weapons become -- one of the main draws of this game. The weapons you find also have a secondary fire mode that increases their efficiency and require their own ammunition. A charged shot from your assault riffle can incinerate an enemy, and you have the ability to guide a bullet from any angle (à la Wanted) with the sniper rifle.

Each of your weapons can be upgraded to increase your firepower, ammo capacity, and secondary fire ammunition. The way you get points comes from your main tool, the energy leash. It gives you the ability to temporarily grapple enemies and suspend them in midair. Whether you kick them into obstacles, shoot them, or overcharge your whip and send them all flying, it allows you to control your enemies the way you want to and kill pretty much any way you choose. By killing enemies creatively, you'll unlock points for each kill called “skillshots.” The more creative or the more enemies involved in each kill, the more points you get. The game also keeps track of each of the unique kills, which adds to its replayability.

Besides the single player story mode, Bulletstorm has two additional modes. The first is echoes mode in which you select a weapons load-out before playing through a level, finishing as fast as possible and with as many “skillshot” points as possible. It's a fun mode that encourages a play-through without the ham-fisted storyline and crude dialog. The second is multiplayer in which up to three other players can complete levels and earn as many points as possible. It's fun for a while but gets old fast. Most of the team-based kill shots don't work the way they should, and if one player ends up taking on too many of the enemies, the others are forced to sit back and watch. Not a fun way to spend an online match.

The story didn't really catch my fancy, and I never really became interested in Hunt's quest for revenge. Storyline aside, I had a blast with this game. The levels were fun and diverse, the weapons violent and satisfying, and the graphics bright and eye-catching. With a variety of games focusing on gritty realism, Bulletstorm comes as a breath of fresh air. It's a return to the old-school shooter that has all but disappeared.

Despite its vulgarity, I hope more games like this stay around a while.


Review Score


Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

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