Bulletstorm is the highly anticipated and very controversial video game brought to us by developers Epic Games and People Can Fly. This is the proud brainchild of acclaimed comic book writer Rick Remender and it aims for being nothing less than the ‘’Burnout’’ of shooters. Bulletstorm was never too modest with its ambitions as it pitched itself with claims of bringing ‘’the fun back into first-person shooters’’ and also of making ‘’Gears look tame’’ Cliff Bleszinski, lead designer at Epic Games, in his humblest of statements regarding Bulletstorm described the game as the “Burnout of shooters with a little bit of Duke Nukem and a little bit of Firefly/Serenity.” So did Bulletstorm live up to its words? Well, yes and no.
Revenge, betrayal, drunken men, mutated soldiers and a cocky heroine, Bulletstorm has it all but what Bulletstorm does not have is a significant, deep or impactful storyline. Actually, there is a story but one which has been greatly ridiculed and over-shadowed by the cheesy and over-the-top script of the game. Starring Grayson Hunt, former captain of elite mercenary squad called Dead Echo, who used to work under commands of General Sarrano until he realized that he was being misled into killing innocent civilians. This marked the team’s exit from the Confederation of the Galaxy. Seven months later, Grayson and his team are meandering the empty voids of space targeting any ship that crosses their path. And what a work of fate as one day the Confederation’s most prized warship, the Ulysses, carrying General Sarrano just prances into space-pirate territory only to become a logical victim of Grayson Hunt’s blood lust. The impact causes immense damage to both ships and they end up being crashed into a near-by planet called Stygia. This is where most of the game takes place as you encounter numerous mutated goons on the loose in the beautiful and diverse environments of this planet.
Bulletstorm carries all the basic traits of a first-person shooter but what truly sets this game apart is its Skillshot system. This feature is basically a combo system which allots you points based on your ‘’creativity’’ of the kill. Slide towards an enemy, stun him and shoot him down to earn ‘’Bullet Slide’’ kill points. Furthermore, slide towards the enemy, stun him and target his flying body in slow-motion for a headshot and gain both ‘’Bullet Slide’’ and ‘’Headshot’’ skill points. These are in fact the most basic Skillshots found in the game. The Skillshot system is all about experimenting and combining different techniques to defeat your enemies in order to score the highest points.
The game offers more than a 100 skillshots to experiment and earn points with. Much appreciably, the game has a Skillshot database that can be accessed any time in the game to view which skillshots you have unlocked as well as those which you have yet to complete. These skillshot points can be used to purchase weapons, ammo and upgrades at various dropkit sites. Dropshops are left-overs from the failed Project Anarchy that carried supplies to be purchased by soldiers with high skillshot scores. Slowly, as you progress through the game, more weapons and upgrades are unlocked and even more skillshots are added to the Skillshot list. This constant experimenting with weapons and kills keeps things fresh and enjoyable all the way till the end.
Bulletstorm offers some of the most unique and interesting weapons that you will ever encounter in a game. Grayson starts off with a basic military assault rifle, the Peace Maker Carbine, which is also his main weapon but as you progress through the game you will acquire new and useful weapons. There are a total of eight weapons and each weapon has unique skillshots and special alternate-fire modes which add bonuses to your Skillshot total. One of the weapons called the Flailgun shoots two bombs attached via a chain that enwrap the victim and explode. Head Hunter, a refreshing new take on sniper rifles, allows you to maneuver the bullet towards the target after shooting. These weapons carry a lot of potential for skillshots and it becomes a constant challenge with combining, experimenting and discovering new skillshots. Grayson also has some mighty gravity boots for melee attacks. The boot causes enemies to float in air in slow-mo allowing you to target their various body parts for respective Skillshots. Then again, one of the most unique weapons in the game is the Energy Leash that hurls enemies at a distance into the air and pulls them towards you in slow motion and what is more is that the Leash also works against enemies in cover.
In addition to the single-player campaign, the game has a score-based ‘’Echoes’’ mode plus an online co-operative multiplayer ‘’Anarchy’’ mode. Echoes is where Bulletstorm’s ‘’Kill with Skill’’ tagline is put to the ultimate duty. Echoes takes little segments from the single-player campaign and turns them into little matches where the goal is to score the highest Skillshot total in the shortest amount of time. The key here is to keep things fresh by experimenting with your kills. Each new Skillshot performed during a match gives you five times the points than an already performed Skillshot. On the other hand, Anarchy is Bulletstorm’s take on the famous Horde mode. Here, upto four players can team up against waves of increasingly difficult enemies. Each map presents twenty waves of enemies which require you to reach an objective score in order to advance.
The creativity and inventiveness of the game does not end at Skillshots or weapons, It is the brilliantly filthy, smug and profanity-stricken script of the game that serves as the icing on the cake. Praise be to writer Rick Remender for introducing us to ingenious terms like ‘’sushidick’’ and ”suicidal limp-dicked retards”. But no matter how much we appreciate the creativity of the writing, some of the jokes just fell flat in certain situations. With the super-macho attitude of Bulletstorm comes the need of super-macho voice-acting. Unfortunately, the voiceovers felt very forced and unfitting despite the game’s spectacular voice-cast consisting of Steve Blum and Jennifer Hale. Minor complaints aside, Bulletstorm is a spectacular shooter with beautiful environments and refreshing new gameplay mechanics. After all it’s not every day that you get to control a huge remote controlled dinosaur named Waggleton P. Tallylicker.
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