Bulletstorm breaks the barrier between machismo and over-adrenaline action-packed junkies that are looking for a decent Sci-Fi ride. On the other hand, people that love engaging narratives, and first-person shooters with a dynamic purpose and open-ended sandbox gameplay style might find this shooter falling short of the mark. The dialogue is largely over-exaggerated, the characters are predictable, but the core tenant where the game fails largely is gameplay. Often times, a critic must not only be able to pay attention to detail, quality, and moreover balance of elements but also be able to hone in on what simply does not work for the game or adds unnecessary slack. Epic Games and People Can Fly could have easily made an engagingly capturing game that rivaled Gears of War, but they instead chose a path of comedy which left us dying to boo them at the stage. Regardless of the setbacks, Bulletstorm makes use of killings as more of a graceful element of style and skill, using environments and other objects to fling enemies into the air in hilarious ways. There is a sense of gratification that Bulletstorm gives in all its tomfoolery and something that ends up being slightly enjoyable by just anyone that has played any short of shooter with its fair share of problems.
The storyline itself is hackneyed and not focused on deep development, beginning with Confederation of Planets’ Grayson Hunt along with his friend interrogating their third bounty hunter. There is an imminent reaction rate to cussing, and developer Epic Games makes it apparent this will be a following trend. These two are clear deserters of a secret future army unit known as Dead Echo, where their equally abysmal Captain Serrano ordered his troops to attack innocents. Years later, Grayson Hunt and his fellow mercenaries find themselves in a fit of revenge and vengeance, ready to take Serrano down for all his wrongdoings and betrayal. Unfortunately, both ships land on the planet of Stygia after a heated battle, and this is where Bulletstorm commences its thirst for revenge.
Bulletstorm makes use of the gameplay mechanic of a skill shot system with gravity. You shoot enemies, they go up in the air and you can use the environment in creative ways to earn kills such as “Mercy” and other creative titles that make this system truly work. Unlike similar games such as The Club, which focused on running in a corridor given a specific time and killing many enemies in stylistic ways, Bulletstorm takes a page from SEGA’s The Club and utilizes it to write a completely new gameplay scheme. A compendium of environments gives different ways to kill enemies, from flammable materials, to electrocution and more as forms to combine with weaponry. Weapons, as a result come with an upgrade system, each come with their own skillshot names and provides multiple weapons through a sort of skillshot book with moves that can be executed. Assault rifle and shotguns are all anyone needs to take down bad guys in any first-person shooter titles, but there are other weapons such as the flailgun with grenades. To add to the gameplay action, weapons have secondary modes with a special ability that can send a flail gun’s chain of grenades into a ball of grenades that takes out a radius than flings one of the evil Serrano men. There can be a level of control with upgrades that can launch enemies into the air at once or even slow down moments to make it easier to take a more stylistic kill. Bulletstorm constantly makes use of timing and explosions on screen to even buildings collapsing and much more to make even the inept of shooter players feel invincible.
Sadly, the gameplay design itself is plagued with problems in terms of the environments and the pacing. The environments can degrade the gameplay by falling in predictable ways that are scripted for the effect each time and block a certain path. Bulletstorm’s linearity is underscored by the relative jumping and can lead to overcrowded battles which have a tendency to stale the action. Pacing itself as a result slows down with Bulletstorm and leaves the player wanting a smoother transition than run and gun, then jump, and gun again which can be sorely disappointing.To top this all off, enemy A.I. is incredibly stupid, which sort of helps the whole machismo thing, but it hardly feels like a game that aims to show characters of skill than just characters that can shoot at thick targets for no reason.
Bulletstorm’s online offering is shockingly dismal. The Anarchy mode features the typical crowd of enemies similar to titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum but couples it with a gambol -fest of up to three people. The fun is great for a short time, but ends very quickly.
Bulletstorm is the definition of a title that tries to be great at what it does, and truly does cater to the machismo people out there that love the over-steroid action of its characters, but at the end of the day it falls short on quite a few levels to be entertaining in general to anyone. Regardless of its flaws, it still provides an enjoyable adventure filled with hyperboles, and unwarranted revenge for those that are interested in the basics it has to offer: kicking a lot of dumb villains over a ledge and into the towering depths of Styrgia below.