Bulletstorm tells the story of a futuristic confederation protected by an elite band of mercenaries: Dead Echo. You play as Grayson Hunt, the foul-mouthed commander of Dead Echo. After finding that your team has been working for the wrong side, you’re betrayed by General Serrano and exiled to the far reaches of the galaxy. As fate would have it, you happen upon Serrano’s flagship in space and end up crashing it, yourself and killing most of your squad mates in the process. You find yourself surrounded by hordes of mutants, flesh eating gangs, and worse in an abandoned paradise. Your objective: get off the planet alive and exact revenge upon the man who betrayed you.
While the overall plot is pretty straight forward, there are a few twists to keep things interesting. There are also new characters introduced during the campaign that help move it along. Don’t expect much in the way of character development, but you can be sure of a VERY entertaining story and some VERY clever scripting. The voice acting is also top-notch. There are also some very well done set pieces that would give any summer blockbuster a run for their money.
Yes, the dialogue is incredibly vulgar at times. Yes, you will probably find yourself laughing out loud during these converstaions. Luckily, Epic Games and People Can Fly included not only filters for gore, but filters for mature language. I actually found myself halfway through the single-player campaign turning the mature language off so that I didn’t have to worry about the kids sneaking into the room and attending “Swearing Like A Sailor: 101.” The dialogue is actually written so well that I didn’t miss it once I turned it off.
Don’t plan on having much fun if you’re expecting to pick up Bulletstorm and play it as you would a traditional military shooter. Bulletstorm’s “Kill with skill” motto isn’t just a cute marketing slogan, it’s a requirement if you want to do well in the game.
“Skillshots” (how creatively you can dispatch the enemy) earn you varying levels of in-game currency, with which you can unlock in-game weapons, upgrade them and even buy ammo for them. The trickier the skillshot, the more points you earn. Simply kill an enemy, as you would in other shooters, and you earn a meager 10 points. Shoot him in the “private” region and kick his head off while he’s doubled over and you not only earn the “Mercy Killing” skillshot, but you also get 150 points to spend on weapons and upgrades. Not only are the actual skillshot requirements creative, but the skillshot names can be downright laughable: “Voodoo Dool” requires you to throw an enemy into a sharp object, “FastFood” is earned by ramming an enemy to death with a hot dog cart, impale two or more enemies with the Penetrator and earn the “Shishkebab” skillshot.
Each weapon has its own set of skillshots that can be unlocked and earned, which will lead you to use various weapons throughout the game. You’ll undoubtedly have favorites, but in the end you will end up using each of the weapons during the game for the extra points and to see what gruesome skillshot you can pull off next will be.
To make skillshots just a little more challenging, and much more rewarding, try drinking one (or more) bottles of alcohol that can be found in various locations of the game. Yes, it’s almost impossible to aim down the sites or even walk, but you get a very nice bonus for any skillshots you are able to pull off while in your alcohol induced stupor. Prefer not to drink? You 7.62×39 surplus ammo can destroy the bottles of alcohol instead. Find and destroy enough of them for a nice little achievement or trophy.
The game is absolutely beautiful. You will find yourself not only stopping to figure out what environmental obstacles you have at your disposal for dispatching enemies, but just to gander at the impressive land and cityscapes that Bulletstorm has to offer.
Bulletstorm ships with a co-operative multiplayer mode similar to Gears of War “Horde” mode, or Halo’s “Firefight.” The major difference is that Bulletstorm’s “Anarchy” mode isn’t about survival. It’s about scoring enough points using skillshots to clear the level. You are able to team up with up to three of your friends and earn massive amounts of points as you try to earn individual and team skillshot awards. There is also a single player mode called “Echoes,” which are various pieces of the campaign. Echoes allow you to replay specific pieces as well as compare your best score(s) to those of your friends. It also includes leaderboards and the bragging rights that go with them. Some will find this game mode highly addictive, but we’re betting that most gamers will leave it untouched.
As much as we liked the game, we did find a few drawbacks. Most frustrating is the lack of hit detection when you are being attacked by an enemy. Some type of onscreen indicator as to the direction you are being attacked from would have been wonderful. Unlike most games, there is no way for you to know which direction you are being attacked from. There were several times that we died due to an enemy clubbing us from behind, and we had no idea he was there…
We also had issues with the online multiplayer mode. There are several maps available, but in the end we found ourselves getting bored with only the one mode of play. Due to the skillshot system, it’s understandable that a versus-based multiplayer mode would be difficult to pull off, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. A co-op campaign mode would have been appreciated as well… The single-player campaign did leave the door open for a sequel, so we’re hoping that Epic Games and People Can Fly will include it in an upcoming title.