If you didn’t play Bulletstorm when it was first released way back in 2011, I’m disappointed but not surprised. It’s one of those game’s that deserves a spot along with Raven’s SIngulatiry on the ‘Best shooters of 360/PS3 era that no buggered played’ list.
People Can Fly’s follow up to the wonderful Painkiller, Bulletstorm is a crude, frantic, and genuinely hilarious first-person shooter that was released at a time when the military shooter was king and if you weren’t like CoD, you weren’t given the marketing budget to succeed.
Bulletstorm being a bright, brash, fast paced shooter from the Duke and Doom school of FPS, then Publisher EA had little faith in its success. Even with Epic helping to make sure the Unreal powered shooter was as beautiful as it could be, with long-load times and barely hitting 30 fps on consoles, and a PC port tethered to the awful Games for Windows Live helped to bury the franchise before it had a chance to get going. Eventually it only sold 2 million copies world-wide and plans for a sequel were scrapped.
But now six years later and with People Can Fly having full control over the IP again Bulletstorm is back with one of the most unlikely remasters to date. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition – featuring improved lighting and textures, a higher frame rate, on both PC and Consoles, as well as extra challenge maps and new game+
Players take on the role of Grayson Hunt, the former leader of a rogue black ops outfit known as Dead Echo. He’s a gruff, surly and often drunken dick, he’s also incredibly funny, in a bumbling anti- hero kind of way, brought to life by Steve Blum, in what could possibly be his best performance since Cowboy Bebop.
After Dead Echo realise that the people that they been assassinating weren’t arms dealers and terrorists, but civilians and journalists critical of the government and their crooked commanding officer General Serrano, the unit goes rogue, steals a star ship, and gets the hell out of dodge.
While on the run the Unit accidentally runs into Serrano on his Flagship, and in a drunken fit of rage Grey decides to try and get the drop on Serrano. It doesn’t go well and after a failed attempt at a suicide run both Dead Echo and Seranno end up crash landing on an inhospitable planet full of mutants.
That’s when the fun really begins. The story is a lot of fun, but mostly just window dressing for a series of over the top set pieces and superb and varied combat.
The heart of Bulletstorm’s combat revolves around its innovative Skillshot system. Early in the game players are given an electric lasso which gives you the ability to drag enemies and parts of the environment towards them. It also grades your combat ability, the more inventive and varied the player is when dispatching enemies, the more points they receive. You can just take everyone out with a headshot, if you really want. But it’s so much more fun, and rewarding to grab them with the lasso and then punt them into a nearby Cactus (unlocking the Pricked Skillshot) flattening them with a part of the scenary, or drop kicking a barrel towards a group and then shooting it in mid-air.
The more ridiculous the kill, the bigger the combat score – and points mean prizes as players combat score is also used as currency to unlock new weapons and upgrades, as well as restock their ammo at Dropkits dotted throughout the game. Each of Bulletstorm’s weapons feel weighty and powerful, for example the shotgun can tear enemies in half at close range and the machine gun can easily lop off limbs and take enemies heads clean off, in ridiculously gory fashion.
Even though the title is six years old, it’s systems still feel fresh and the increase in game speed from 30 – 60fps on console and all the way up to a 240fps lock on PC makes them absolutely sing. It really feels day and night compared to the original 360/PS3 version that found it hard to hit even a consistent 30fps at the time, which felt at odds with the games frantic, fast paced combat.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition isn’t simply a decent new port though, it also includes a few added extras including several new Echo (challenge) maps bringing the grand total up to 30, complete with leaderboards, there’s also the brand-new Overkill mode, basically a new game plus which allows you to storm through the campaign with all the entire arsenal of weapons and all skillshots revealed from the start.
There’s also multiplayer co-op for up to four players – unfortunately I couldn’t spend much time with it as the servers were basically dead at the time I was preparing my review. Hopefully this will improve post-launch.
The biggest new addition comes in the guise of a surprising and rather nifty Preorder bonus – Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour. In many ways Bulletstorm was the game that Duke Nukem Forever should have been, and now players can see what the game would have been like if Duke was in the starring role, well sort of. Although there has been new dialogue recorded by Jon St. John, the rest of the cast’s dialogue remains unchanged. There is occasionally a bit of a weird disconnect at time, but fortunately the writing reflects this with Duke basically been played as a fish out of water who doesn’t understand why the hell he’s even in the game and responds to situations with his usual vulgar, pop culture laden flair. When taking part in an early game flashback he responds to what is going on by exclaiming “I’m not even supposed to be in this flashback!” (It gets extra points for the Clerks reference)
Weirdly though the whole shtick is at its best when Duke is being Duke, and the occasional moments where he simply repeats the same dialogue as Grey is when the whole idea falls down a little. Likewise, moments when other characters call Duke Grey since their dialogue has not been altered at all, can be a little jarring, but does reinforce the gag that he is not supposed to be in the game.
If you missed it the first time around Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, is the best version of one of last gens best games that no bugger played. An anarchic, funny, and off the wall FPS with unique combat that still feels fresh, six years after its original release.
If you played it first time round, there may be less to tempt you back. But Duke is a great little addition (and hopefully proof of concept for a People Can Fly developed Duke Nukem) while hopefully the remaster will lead to a sequeal that many gamers have been waiting far too long for.