Bulletstorm (360)

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Graphics: 9.00
Sound: 10.00
Gameplay: 10.00
Replays: 9.00
Gamelength: 8.00

“It’s a murder party, starring me!” a line spoken by Bulletstorm’s main protagonist Grayson Hunt, is easily the best way to describe the absurdity that is Bulletstorm. Bulletstorm tried from the beginning to separate itself from a FPS genre that is clogged year after year with games that are indistinguishable from one another. Bulletstorm did a fantastic job of doing so. Despite the fact the game was done by Epic Games, (and People Can Fly) the game was not really like Epic’s signature series Gears of War, as I’d previously thought.

The story takes place in the 26th century and follows former spec ops agent, recently-turned space pirate Grayson Hunt whose squad went AWOL after discovering that they were tricked into killing innocent civilians by their commanding officer General Sarrano, instead of murderers and other criminals who posed a threat to peace as they were told. Seeing an opportunity, Hunt rams their ship into Sarrano’s, stranding them both on a former resort planet called Stygia. Once you leave the ship, you come across the local inhabitants who have been mutated by electrical storms that happen on the planet. As you traverse the planet trying to find a way off (and exact revenge on Sarrano) you come across a girl named Trishka who was a member of the group who replaced yours when you went AWOL. After teaming up, you take the fight to the locals and Sarrano for around 5-6 hours of non-stop ass-kicking fun.

Gameplay in Bulletstorm has a very unique, fresh and fluid feel to it. One of the coolest and most fun aspects of the campaign (and MP) is the addition of skillshot kills. Essentially (as it’s explained in the game) you’re rewarded with skill points (SP) for performing new kills and the SP are used to unlock new weapons, upgrade ammo capacity and restocking on ammo. If you don’t perform well, you’re not able to obtain those items (though you can find spare ammo on enemies you kill). I won’t divulge any of the specific skillshot kills, but I will say that using the environment around you helps immensely and when you unlock a new skillshot kill, it’s incredibly satisfying. There are around 150 different kills you can utilize throughout the campaign.

The Campaign isn’t the only part of the game worth playing through. There are also two MP modes: Anarchy and Echo.

Anarchy Mode is a co-op team based multiplayer mode where up to 4 players take on continuous waves of increasingly difficult enemies. This is one of the only true similarities to Epic’s Gears of War franchise with a few twists: progress is measured in individual Skillshots and Team Skillshots. Enemies will spawn with a display over their heads that tell you which Team Skillshot you need to perform to progress. Teamwork is essential in this mode because if the correct team maneuvers aren’t performed, you won’t obtain enough points to move forward.

Echo mode is definitely the least exciting of the two in my opinion. It’s essentially a tougher single-player run focusing souly on points. Achieving a specific point goal opens up a new part of the map. Then upload and compare scores on a leaderboard. This isn’t multiplayer so much as a competitive mode.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed with how Bulletstorm took the absurd and made it fun. Sure, it’s overly gory and the language in it would find a way to offend a sailor, but that’s part of its appeal. While it seems more geared towards the campaign vs. MP (which is a rarity nowadays), Anarchy mode is definitely worth a couple play through’s – especially if you play with people who have really gotten used to how the game is played. While it won’t game of the year, Bulletstorm is a great game to play with friends and help you unwind after a tough day at school or at the office.

Full Disclosure: Review copy purchased by author

Overall Rating: 9.00

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