Bulletstorm review
All hype and ideas, but half baked execution at best


Bulletstorm loves leaving me wondering what could've been. From the cliffhanger ending, to the skillshots, to the leash, and pretty much everything else, Bulletstorm always finds a way to leave me hanging at the end of a cliff that towers over molten lava. The end result is a mediocre shooter that, although it has good intentions, never really goes beyond the mediocrity marsh. I remember really wanting this game, too... then I got the game, discarded all the hype and just played it as it is, and what it is, well, you know - mediocre shooter.

The story is that you're a drunk soldier named Grayson who commands a ship that attacks his old general's prized warship, all because you learn that you and your team are just assassins, out to kill those who oppose Sarano and his group of assassins. Well, unfortunately, it backfires, as you crash land on a planet and most of your crew dies. It's just you and your buddy, Ishi, though Ishi has robotic parts because he nearly died in an explosion and the robotic parts are needed to keep him alive. However, the robotics try to take over Ishi's mind, turning him from some Japanese guy to a cold blooded killer. Anyway, Grayson and Ishi have to find a way off the planet. They meet up with a woman named Trishka, who... I guess they just wanted a chick in the gang. Eventually, they meet up with-- nah, screw it, I'm not above keeping secrets. Either way, the story is just your typical action movie scenario that exists for the sole reason of... I guess because games are required to have storylines? Whatever the case may be, it's pretty much filler and won't really have much of an impact - well, except the jokes, most of which are quite sexual... albeit relating more to the *bleep* than anything else. Seriously, did Mr Garrison write the dialogue? So many usages of any word that could be used to refer to the male genitalia, honestly, these jokes just get *bleep*ing old, and they weren't that funny to begin with. In saying that, I guess you could say it's a like a burn victim, in which it's terrible, but you can't look away...

As far as actually playing the game goes, if you're played games like Duke Nukem 3D or Serious Sam, chances are, you'll be able to familiarise yourself with this game very quickly. Simply put, Bulletstorm is a typical first person shooter, but it doesn't like to take itself too seriously, and like Serious Sam, the enemies only know one thing each; charge at you, or shoot at you. Now, I *bleep*ing love Duke Nukem, and I like Serious Sam quite a lot, but Bulletstorm... well, let's actually go through the gameplay. Basically, you're given an arsenal of guns, and with them, you have to kill a bunch of enemies before proceeding to the next section of any given level, until it ends. That's... basically all you do. Depth isn't something that really exists in Bulletstorm. Unfortunately, that becomes the game's biggest downfall, because as much as you try to spice things up with different weapons like a shotgun, two different explosive weapons, a sniper rifle and a gun that shoots drills, it ultimately gets really repetitive. Yeah yeah, it's not real criticism, but good god, this game got boring really quickly.

The one thing that gives Bulletstorm something to strive for is the Skillshot thingo. Basically, you're rewarded for being more creative with your killing than just blowing their brains out with your shotgun. From simple stuff like using your plasma leash to lasso enemies and kick them into nearby cacti, to more complicated stuff like using your shotgun's charged shot to burn enemies to death, and about 135 more ways, it'd be a blast discovering these shots for yourself... on paper, that is. Unfortunately, as cool as that sounded, the execution is really lackluster and just *bleep*ing disappointing. While you are encouraged to use the environment, you'll probably find yourself using the leash and kick technique a HELL of a lot more than anything else, because from what I've noticed as I play over and over again, most of the skillshots are either situational, or something that isn't worth doing more than once because the leash and kick combo has been working out well and honestly, why bother using half these shots more than once? Your muscle memory and shooter instincts are often quick to force you to use whatever usually works in similar scenarios, and being overly creative is tricky, unless you can also take note of the surrounding area and use it to your advantage. What I'm basically saying is that Skillshots sound like a great idea in theory, but in execution, eh, it could've been implemented better.

There's really nothing else to say about the gameplay. Level designs are linear, there are a few things to destroy for some extra points and trophies around each level, and there are skillshots to get.. I suppose there's the Echoes mode? You know, replay portions of levels, trying to get the highest score possible? Sounds good in theory, but this pretty much allows the game's biggest flaw to rear its ugly head - the sheer fact that it's only fun the first time around, and subsequent times only result in just doing it for the sake of doing it. Playing through Echoes mode is like watching shallow comedy, in which it loses its appeal after the first time through.

But wait! Everyone knows that you play shooters for the online, right? Well, the developers made absolutely sure that you wouldn't want to actually delve into this mode! Basically, online mode consisted of taking Horde mode from Gears Of War where you take down waves upon waves of enemies, and put in Skillshots. That's it. No deathmatch, no king of the hill... no nothing... just this Horde mode looking thing, except it's called Anarchy. Aaaand despite what I just said, I think this is actually pretty fun. It takes the Skillshot concept that felt criminally underused in the campaign, and made it into something that shouts "yes, I have utilized my full potential", by adding some Anarchy exclusive Skillshots on top of that what you've done in the campaign! Essentially what happens is that you and another person have to work together to do a certain short sequence so you can a bazillion more points than merely kicking the enemy into cacti, usually something involving the two of you lassoing an enemy at the same time or something, so... I guess make sure you don't end up with glory hogs, or you won't be able to utilize this feature. With that said, if you don't like Anarchy, then you're shit out of luck, because that's all you're getting. No co-op, no deathmatch, no NOTHING! It's pretty much a big middle finger in your face, especially considering the leash and the environmental emphasis! Seriously, this game is brimming with potential, but it just doesn't give a *bleep* in the end!

The graphics aren't too impressive. They're colorful, sure, but at the same time, they don't look good. The textures are pretty low quality and look like something out of an early Xbox 360 game, and that's if they load, because the textures often don't like to load until like five seconds into a new engine (you know, the usual in-game and cutscene engines developers utilize). Apparently, this is done with an updated version of the Unreal Engine 3... might want to work out the kinks and actually utilize this baby to its full potential, because it looks exactly like something done with the Unreal Engine 3... like the first Gears Of War!

The soundtrack doesn't exist, simple as that.. or at least, it might as well not exist, because in amongst all the gunfire, loudmouth swearing and *bleep* jokes, you won't actually be able to hear the music! Not that it'd matter however, because the music doesn't really convey any ambience, nor does it have any semblance of melody; it's simply there because, well, it wouldn't work in silence, I guess. The voice acting is passable as far as action heroes are concerned... I mean, at least it gets the right mood across, so... whatever..

Oh, and before anybody goes "oh Vergil you suck you just don't get it be more open minded", I've gotten all the Skillshots, I've beaten this game at least three times, I've nearly gotten the platinum trophy for this game, and I usually tend to be a pretty damn good FPS player. What it comes down to is that Bulletstorm is a mediocre shooter with good ideas, but unrealized potential. If you're having a cry over this, then you have a lot of growing up to do. Seriously. Also consider that Bulletstorm was released alongside Killzone 3, and before Crysis 2, and those two first person shooters are of fantastic quality... Bulletstorm just can't compare! Finally, considering the large amount of hype behind it - it had some pretty big shoes to fill! Sadly, being that it's only excellent on paper but actually mediocre in execution, the hype was undeserved.

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