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Yesterday I finally got my hands on the finished version of People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm, and if anything I’m not disappointed.  Bulletstorm has its flaws, but it also has many bright spots that have forced me to keep thinking about it even after I quit playing many hours ago.  Sure it will draw heavy comparisons to other Epic games, namely Gears of War, but the skill shot system truly defines this game as something very original and entertaining.  Bullestorm is most definitely unique, so hopefully our review will help push you in the right direction if you’re still undecided about picking up this game.

EB – 8/10

The Awesome – Kill with skill, Great in-game graphics, Innovative gameplay, Replayability, Cavemanish, Blood and Guts

The Not So Awesome – Sketchy cut scene performance, Gears look-a-like character models, Over-the-top language gets stale quick

 

The Awesome Stuff

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the awesome features of Bulletstorm is the skill shot system.  Killing with skill is the highlight of this game, because it’s never really been done before.  It takes the FPS genre and puts a whole new coat of paint on it, because no longer will just killing your opponents get the job done.  You have to slaughter them in creative ways through the use of your leash, boots, the environment, and of course guns.  The whole allure of skill shooting makes each chapter a test to see how many of the new skill shots you can pull off successfully (each chapter can unlock new skill shots as well as each new weapon), as well as trying to knock out some of the previous ones that you had unlocked.  The best part of the skill shots is seeing that obtrusive scoring system pop up with each kill.  For some reason I love seeing massive amounts of points in techno colors, popping up on my screen as I shoot someone in the balls and kick their head off!  It’s a total ADD fix for people that need a little more intensity in their shooters.

Bulletstorm’s skill shots are undoubtedly the most awesome part of this game, but it also has great level design and in-game worlds.  Each level is crafted in a way that enables the gamer to have a plethora of options for killing with skill.  You’ll have some spikes, plants, electrical nodes, and maybe even the kitchen sink to use as tools of destruction, and they’re all placed perfectly within the environment.  You should always have various options to kill those screaming lunatics when they come piling out of their spawn points.

Along with the great level design each Act of Bulletstorm also features some impressive in-game graphics.  The Unreal Engine is put to good use for the actual gameplay, and Stygia looks like a nice place to vacation except for the a-holes that run at you with bombs attached to themselves.  I didn’t notice any frame rate issues while playing, and the retarded amount of action going on at any one point in time didn’t seem to lag the gameplay at all.  I do have beef with the cut scenes, but I’ll address that in the Not Awesome section below.  Overall, the graphics are pleasing, but nothing you haven’t seen before.  Especially if you’ve played other games running the UDK.

Bulletstorm also has a pretty decent sound profile, and it will rock your surround sound if you have one setup.  If you don’t you need to punch yourself and go get one, because real gamers play with real sound!  Anyway, Bulletstorm sounds like an orchestra, if that orchestra only contained futuristic weapons and cons for the maestro to direct you to shoot.  My ears were constantly rewarded with goodness every time I killed someone with skill and heard them die a gruesome death.  The sound is very over-the-top, which fits nicely in a game of Bulletstorm’s nature, and so does its profanity laced dialogue.  Trust me, Bulletstorm is the foulest mouthed game I’ve ever played, so if you let your kids play it you’re asking for a call from the Principal when little Johnny starts calling other kids d*ck-tits.  You will learn some new words that aren’t necessarily worth repeating around normal people.

Outside of the campaign I also enjoyed playing the Echo and Multiplayer modes.  Both of them add to the Bulletstorm experience even though the MP component is not tied to the campaign directly.  Echo gives you speed freaks a chance to work your way up the leader boards by completing certain sections of the campaign in a set time limit, and getting as creative as possible with the killing.  The Multiplayer is similar to the Horde style of play found in games these days in where you and 3 other players fend off the AI with skill shots to reach a point threshold.  Once this is achieved another wave of bad guys spawns and the killing resumes.  It’s not the most deep MP I’ve ever seen, but it definitely highlights the joys of killing with skill in Bulletstorm.

 

The Not So Awesome Stuff

The one glaring issue I had with Bulletstorm is its cut scenes and characters leave much to be desired.  First off, the cut scenes look like sh*t, and do Bulletstorm no graphical justice.  They seemed washed out and blurry with occasional frame rate hiccups, and I even experienced sound loss during some of the busier movie style scenes.  For a game like Bulletstorm, which does have pretty good in-game graphics, it was shocking to see how crappy the cut scenes looked.  They made the Unreal Engine look like it was a sluggish turd when we all know what it can produce.  Considering that Bulletstorm’s story is paper thin you’d think People Can Fly would’ve made every CGI scene look like a Pixar film, but that’s not the case.  I was very disappointed with this ultimately minute issue, because at times it felt like Bulletstorm made it through QA testing while everyone was high on drugs.  The cut scenes don’t break the game, but they definitely don’t make it either.  Thank God for killing with skill!

The character models also leave somewhat of a “I’ve seen this guy before” feeling in your mouth, because they do resemble the Gears of War models very closely.  Grayson is straight up the love child of Marcus and Dom from Gears of War.  It’s like the people at PCF said, “Hey what would it look like if we made Marcus bone Dom?”, and that was their artistical inspiration for their main character.  Bulletstorm’s characters feel so similar to GOW that someone could tell you that Grayson was actually a COG before he became a drunken space pirate, and you wouldn’t think about questioning them.  PCF took too many cues from Gears of War when it came to Bulletstorm’s character models in my opinion.  If you’re going to work with EPIC and use the Unreal Engine, you should at least make sure that your characters can’t even be remotely mistaken for another franchise’s.

My last gripe with Bulletstorm is the over use of foul language.  Don’t get me wrong, I consider my first language to be swearing, but when you hear the word d*ck in front of ever possible noun in this game, you’ll slowly find yourself cringing at it within a few hours of playing.  I even think Beavis and Butthead would get tired of hearing the d*ck word after a session of the Bulletstorm campaign.  This vulgar dialogue eventually led me to believe that maybe the guys behind ‘Next Star Wars‘ may have written the script, because they’re the masters of saying the same foul phrase over and over, and for good measure, over!

 

The Verdict

Even with the cut scene issues, Gears of War character look-a-likes, and a script that a foul mouthed 3 year-old could have written, Bulletstorm is a must buy.  I give it an E.B. 8/10 for its creative kill with skill gameplay.  This addition to the FPS genre shouldn’t go unnoticed, because it provides a fresh new take on shooters that have been getting pretty formulaic.  Bulletstorm definitely succeeded in distinguishing itself from the FPS pack with its innovative gameplay.  The campaign is a blast that you won’t easily put down, and the Echo mode should provide some intense friend list competitions through its leader boards.  The multiplayer component may not be as deep as a Call of Duty, but it should give you a great way to d*ck around with your gaming buddies when you don’t feel like getting beat up by 10 year-olds in Halo or COD.  If you’ve been needing a new game to play pick up Bulletstorm today!  You’ve been trying to execute the skill shot that involves controlling a sniper bullet into a bad guys a*shole…

 

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Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.