This past February, People Can Fly, Epic Games, and EA unleashed Bulletstorm for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. Despite the fact that the “EPIC EDITION” contained a precious Gears of War 3 beta invitation, there were quite a few reasons to buy this game.
Bulletstorm carries a familiar storyline:
A group of former assassins crash land on a weird planet and quickly meet hostile inhabitants that want to use their faces as Halloween masks and their phalanges as toothpicks. You know, the usual.
But there’s more to this game than blood and guts. You play as Grayson Hunt, a former crony leader of the Confederation who carried out brutal murders without asking questions. Eventually, Hunt discovers that many of his previous assassinations were senseless. Feeling that it’s his job to take down the Confederation he was once loyal to, you play as Hunt on a mission to redeem himself for years of meaningless death.
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The “in-your-face” shooter genre has always been appealing to the young bloodthirsty crowd. (“Aww cool! There’s blood on the walls!”) But Bulletstorm brings something different to the table for all players. One of the first things you notice is that the environment of Stygia is absolutely beautiful, and legitimately distracts you from the mutant crazies bounding towards you at full speed. Even your distant surroundings play a part, as the game dishes out XP to take note of far off happenings in the distance by pulling the left trigger button at opportune times. Nearer surroundings have a chance to harm you or your enemies, depending on how you interact with them.
In addition to the dangerous environments, you are given some grungy, yet state-of-the-art weaponry to dispose of your enemies in style, which is the crux of Bulletstorm. Hoarding the basic console-FPS controls, you begin with a basic assault rifle, and gradually acquire more weapons as the game moves along, such as a quad-barreled shotgun and a dual-grenade launcher (pictured above). Using your weapons creatively is key, and as you combine lethal head or crotch shots with environmental hazards, the barbarian in you begins to cheer as you rack up experience points and unlock special moves.
In the game, it’s pretty much Grayson’s fault that the crew has crash landed on Stygia, but they’d be much worse off if you didn’t have the Leash (picture the aesthetics of the thing Daniel Craig uses in Cowboys vs. Aliens). The Leash is an item you acquire early in the game, and it has the capability to log combo information, display tips, emit audio bytes, detect helpful drop kits, and even control your enemies by tossing them up in the air for target practice or pulling them towards you only to receive a hearty kick in the mandible. It remains your faithful sidekick throughout the game and makes for a unique toy to play with.
At first glance, Bulletstorm might seem like a crass Duke Nukem recreation, but Grayson Hunt has the capability to make Duke look like an altar boy. The game truly is a beautifully-gruesome work of art that’s hard to tear your eyes away from (Imagine a car crash that you feel like you have to watch, but the cars involved are Halley’s Comet and Mila Kunis). Crawling around Stygia is an eye-popping experience, and putting enemies down in a creative way gives players a chance to get away from repeated head-shots to a less sophisticated but more satisfying single shot vaporization. Despite the fact that the multiplayer is a bit dry, the game’s story-mode easily stands tall by itself.
4.5 out of 5