Bulletstorm review
Brofist YEAH


Developer: Epic Games/People Can Fly
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Bulletstorm was hyped up to be one of those first person shooters that won't be some generic bullcrap, and from the get go, it... well, here's where I'm conflicted. On one end, its emphasis on using the environment creatively is pretty slick and refreshing, but on the other end of the spectrum, toss this gimmick aside, and it's easily the most generic first person shooter on the market.

To put it bluntly, the story is bad, but it's not like it had to be good or anything - this is one of those first person shooters that puts more emphasis on the action, leaving the story as filler. Unfortunately, it has a decent enough set up for a fantastic story, which leaves me really disappointed by the end result. Basically, you're Grayson Hunt, a soldier for a general known as Sorrano, and the aim is to kill people. Fair enough. What you thought were trained assassins or something like that, turn out to be innocent people who will make the military look bad. Years later, in an act of drunken rage, most of your crew dies, leaving only yourself and a half robotic partner in a Japanese guy named Ishi alive as you both try to get off of the planet that you crash landed on. Every now and again, Ishi's CPU and organic subconscious will do battle to gain control of the body. This is something that could've been pretty cool, but it's not given the attention that it deserves. Instead, the only thing that the story has going for it are the constant dick jokes... not that I have a problem with dick jokes, but when you consider that they're the only jokes you hear, it's quite disheartening and really drags the game down. So yeah, like an action movie, it's all about the one liners, and not the whole package, which sucks, because there are times where I thought it'd actually expand into something that's actually really interesting... only to degrade into "YEAH MAN WE SURE KILLED THEIR DICKS! *epic brofist*" and other such dialogue. Oh, and it ends on the cliffhanger. Nice. I love it when games don't actually finish, because hey, actually finishing our games? *bleep* that!

As I've stated, this is a first person shooter. In case you're looking for a refresher course, you're shooting things that get in your way with guns. The arsenal of guns is actually kind of interesting. I mean, yeah, every game has an assault rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher, but what if said grenade launcher only exploded when you let go of the trigger? What about a gun that shoots a rope with two bombs attached that explode when you flick the switch? How about a gun that shoots drills? Oh, and you don't see too many revolvers these days, either. Even better, they can upgrade, so your rifle will gain a plasma shot, your revolver can shoot flares, your shotgun can spread a ray of extra hot shells, your sniper rifle's bullet can explode at the flick of a switch, your grenade launcher can explode multiple times and only when it contacts something, your rope and bomb gun can shoot even faster and blow up even more, and your drill gun... pretty much goes all over the place.

Sounds cool, right? Wait, what's that I'm hearing? "Why do I need all of that when I can just use the shotgun, rifle and drill gun"? Because of this neat gimmick known as the skillshots. On paper, they involve using your noodle to kill enemies in different ways, using different guns, and even needing to use your charged shots. In reality, though, it just devolves into "kill x amount of enemies with one explosion" or "get x amount of headshots with a single drill", rarely making use of the leash (the most you do with it is rope them in, then either blow their brains out with the shotgun, or kick them into cacti). It's nice that there are a few here and there that you can abuse the hell out of, because if you're going to play this like a generic first person shooter with the rifle, expect to blow fifty bullets just blowing their heads off. Either these bullets are just pellets from a BB gun, or these are some hardcore mother*bleep*ing enemies.

But here's the issue I have - structure. The game obviously started life as a lame Halo clone, with long stretches of land and the occasional big area for bigger gunfights. Yawn. The AI is pretty underwhelming, too. Instead of trying to surprise me with some smart tactics, their idea of defense is to either charge at you like a screaming child, or stand in a place where the player can easily take them down instead of making full use of cover and distance, and sometimes, their shots just flat out miss (I could've sworn I was fighting stormtroopers when I run into those instances). The only time you'll die is if there are many enemies on the battlefield at any given time - other than that, you aren't exactly being challenged or anything. Now, I don't expect Killzone 2 quality AI in every first person shooter, but what is expected is... well, a challenge! When the enemies are easily disposed of either via leash and kick into cacti combo, or a shotgun shot to the face, then A) there's little motivation to really want to go for the skillshots beyond getting the trophies, and B) it's just a collection of shallow victories, which makes the game boring to play through after a while. It's one thing to spend three hours on a single part and get bored of consistently losing due to cheap shit, and then it's another to be able to blow through each and every part with little to no resistance. BORING!

On top of a generic structure, the game doesn't utilize skillshots in a way that it should've. See, there are two modes that you can play alone - Campaign, and Echoes. Campaign is pretty obvious, in which you go through the storyline. Fair enough. Echoes is where you go through sections of levels from the Campaign, and you get graded on how many different skillshots you perform, how many points you earned from said skillshots, and how fast you beat the level. The grading? Three stars! I got a question - why aren't these modes combined? Seriously, this would've given the player more motivation to be even more creative with the way they play! But no! Instead, make way for Drop Kits that pop up every couple of firefights! These show you what skillshots you've accomplished and what you haven't, and they also serve as your shops. This could've been great... perhaps, except for the fact that the guns and upgrades are fairly cheap, which KILLS replay value.

Oh, and lack of New Game + makes me want to stomp outside of my room and slam the door. Given the skillshot system is what allows you to earn a profit, and given that there are weapons and upgrades to buy... I don't know. I thought a New Game + would be awesome! Before anybody mentions anything about a chapter select option, there IS one, but it only gives you the upgrades and stuff you had when you were you first there. Say you upgraded your revolver during 4-1, and then you select 4-1 on the chapter select menu. Well, you no longer have that upgrade. The only thing that it keeps track of are all the skillshots you do and don't have overall... if you got it, you got it forever. But everything else? NAH!

Anything left? Yep.. Anarchy mode. If you haven't played Left 4 Dead, Nazi Zombies mode in Call Of Duty: World At War or Horde mode in Gears Of War, then the best way to sum up Anarchy mode is that you have to defeat waves of enemies, and in between each wave, you have the opportunity to restock on ammo for and upgrade your current weapons as well as buy new weapons and armor. However, progression isn't just about survival; it's also about scoring points. Remember, points make this world go round! Sadly, it hasn't got much of a community. For whatever reason, you can't seem to find anybody to play with, and as it lacks the competitive online multiplayer setting that a lot of other first person shooters have, Bulletstorm will have even less replay value. Oh, and did I mention that it gets really redundant unless you play with the right people? I didn't? Well, now I did. Seriously, screw Anarchy mode, unless you have friends to play with... and unlike other multiplayer games, that is the only condition to getting an enjoyable experience for more than fifteen minutes, but it won't last long. Killzone 3 and Crysis 2 will steal the show because they have a competitive setting for their multiplayer modes... almost makes those who have bought it feel like a sucker for paying for EA's $10 online pass, huh? I sure as hell feel like a dumbass! At least it's just $10 to play and not $19.99/month.

The graphics are pretty lackluster. The texture pop in is annoying as it seems to take a few seconds to go from flat surfaces to some rather mediocre textures that make the game look more like a launch game for the Xbox 360, which could be okay... except we're in 2011, not 2007. More should be expected. The character models look like clay with dirt sprinkled all over them

I can't even say much about the audio. The voice acting is mediocre and doesn't pull you into the story, yet it's at least tolerable. Ishi's voice reminds me a bit of the Terminator's voice, which had lead me to believe that there'd be a Terminator-esque plot twist, except there wasn't. The rest are just your typical tough guy kind of thing. Meh. As for the soundtrack... umm, it sounds nice? Possibly, except it doesn't really draw you into the game, nor does it produce any catchy melodies; it's just there, like music you have turned down while studying for your college finals. More meh.

Bulletstorm is okay. It tries to shift the focus of the first person shooter formula from a generic slugfest into one that's a bit more creative. Sadly, a lack of replay value, poor AI, a lack of motivation to really be creative and lack of enjoyability in the second half really brings this game down. Add lackluster graphics and a forgettable, ignorable soundtrack, and Bulletstorm is just a mediocre game that could've been fantastic.


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