Today’s review is of the newest FPS from Epic Games and People Can Fly, makers of Gears of War and Painkiller respectively. Is Bulletstorm a megaton of fun or is it just a flash in the pan? Read on to find out.
With today’s media being so interwoven with the Internet and what the media perceives to be the public’s attention span, I find it hard to make a firm statement about anything anymore. Whatever hot news story of the moment now seems to fade away into nothing even faster these days thanks to the million other things to distract us from it.
Remember when North Korea was going to become the instigator of World War 3 a month or two back? Or perhaps the controversy about violent video games causing rape rates to skyrocket? Or when Julian Assange was poised to rein in the future of free speech and bring forth a sort of Internet Revolution?
Sure you do now but do you honestly think you would have if I hadn’t brought them up?
Bulletstorm is the perfect game for idiots to target and point fingers at, be they ignorant “experts” that want their book to sell more copies with some controversy, or gamers themselves wanting something to glorify what they feel is “ruining the industry.”. It is a first-person-shooter (bane of video games ‘eh indie gamers?) with ample violence, swearing, and a tall fat man’s hairy butt-cheeks.
Despite it’s “mainstream” title and accusations of being the Michael Bay movie of games, I enjoyed Gears of War as a franchise so far. The characters are boorish stereotypical men that could only be more “extreme” if they were literally made of testosterone, floating on a gun-shaped football suspended in a sea of steroids and silicone breast implants. The only real person that could possibly relate to them is, in fact, the stereotype jock frat boy that should be playing Halo. (Alpha Phi Kappa!)
I can get why people dislike Gears, thanks to some discussions with my friend who despises Marcus with a passion, but sometimes it’s fun to indulge in the sheer silliness of these kings among jocks. And once that silliness wears off there’s still a decent “War is Hell” storyline to follow through.
Bulletstorm’s characters are not Gear characters, containing more depth and nuance to them beyond “Did you know he’s voiced by John DiMaggio?”, and the humor has you laughing with it rather than at it. If the game has a “Giant Worm” moment, it tends to poke fun at the situation instead of attempting to maintain a sense of seriousness when something phenomenally silly is taking place.
In recent years video games seem to beat their chest and shout about how expansive or epic their sequences are. Bulletstorm’s ad campaign is not innocent of this count. For the first third of the game it kind of felt like it was trying, like the game was putting on a song and dance to make me say “wow that is a huge boss.”. “that is one giant cityscape.”, “That dam is like totally blowing up in my face, whoa” (I may have been doing a Keanu Reeves impression in Skype at the time so that may have influenced my reaction a tiny bit)
Then the giant walking venus fly-trap that bled when shot showed up. This boss fight was the first satisfying multi-staged boss I’ve encountered in a while, not too long, not too short. Just the right amount of ass-kicking. From then on the game achieved some scenery that… well I won’t say the E-word because lord knows we get enough wordplay on that these days thanks to the developer, but it is damned impressive.
Story-wise Bulletstorm keeps a pretty good one going, weak and predictable at points but still fun though these parts. When I started playing and encountered the backstory about how Grayson Hunt and his pirate pals went from elite squade elite blah blah blah who were used by a corrupt general to perform hits on political rivals and whatnot., I decided to come up with a funny analogy for the game’s storyline right there and then based on my then perception of the game from the demo and what I had seen on the first act.
“Bulletstorm is the video game version of The Mullet, business up front, party in the back.”
If the game’s plot had been what I thought it would be, a serious start that gets the bullshit out of the way for some Inglorious Basterds-style revenge fantasy with lots-o explosions and boobs. I was happily surprised to discover that the game’s storyline is more rich and interesting than this first guess. (although not a boob to be had in this game, dammit)
From a visual and story standpoint it delivers. Weapons-wise it delivers as well, I would go on a tirade about that as well but that would spoil to much of the inherent fun, just rest assured you can kick some serious ass in this game.
One of the main reasons I think you need to play this game is it is a part of a dying breed, gaming for the pure silly over-the-top fun of it. Gears kinda-sorta started out with that M.O with the chainsaws and steriod aspect but then the War Is Hell message story went so far up it’s own ass you can’t find the stupid fun unless you go online. Our pal here Grayson Hunt is capable of making you at least smirk within the first five minutes.
Overall the campaign is very fun with lots of humor slathered on top of giant bad guys and a female character that is the biggest parody of a strong stubborn heroine I have ever seen.
Now when it comes to online, I have a bit of a bone to pick with People Can Fly. I do understand that Team Deathmatch would be difficult to balance if everyone in the room has a energy Leash that allows them to lasso each other and I wouldn’t mind them simply turning it off to allow us to shoot other players. I don’t know if it’s because Gears 3 comes out later this year and they don’t want Bulletstorm to have legs, but there is only ONE online mode and it’s just Horde Mode 1.2.
Bulletstorm enemies, Bulletstorm maps, Bulletstorm guns, same old Horde feel. For some of us that can be fun for a while but I honestly do not see myself ascending through the 60 odd ranks with only character and gun skins to show for my trouble. Especially when I bought the PS3 version.
For the uninitiated, Unreal Engine FPS games tend to have very buggy starts on Playstation. Borderlands and Unreal Tournament 3 were glitchy around release to name a couple. Borderlands was bad to the point several friends warned me it would probably be best to get the 360 version of any game like that from now on.
BS here didn’t crash on me, but the online connections were shoddy, the framerate chugged near the end with 20 enemies were in the same space as me, character models tended to glitch out every few chapters, that same old Unreal bug of every cutscene looking like a Making Of video thanks to the textures taking five seconds longer than the loading screen to pop in, and once I just flat-out glitched myself out of the map somehow and enjoyed a stroll through nothingness for a while.
Yes I do realise that it’s almost a trend to release a game with a few problems and fix them quick as a flash, and I’m damn tired of it. If half of those issues had happened to me in Bulletstorm I would chalk it up to “Oh well, accidents happen” but a majority of those only happen to me in Unreal PS3 games.
Consider yourself warned if you either expect to be churning away at the one online mode or glitches break the immersion: Buy the 360 version if you have the option.
For all it’s faults Bulletstorm is pure fun, maybe not worth of the Duke and maybe it’s 8 weapon arsenal won’t hold a candle to the Gun Porn of Bodycount, but BS is it’s own thing and it does it’s own thing well.
If that little slice of audio after the final credits amounts to anything more than the audio engineer wishing they would make a sequel, I can’t wait to see our pal Grayson kick some ever-loving ass again.
We don’t really have a ratings system on Lo-Ping as of now so I’m using my time-tested method of Buy/Rent/Borrow for now.
Bulletstorm is a solid Buy.