Bulletstorm (2011), video game review.
The FPS sub-genre has begone to grow stale. I know, for some of you it might be hard to admit, but take a look at the games that have come out in the last three, four years. What new idea, mechanic, material do the each bring to the table.
Better graphics? Yeah, sure.
More guns? Yes, but at what point does it become too many guns? Do you really need eight different shotguns, why can’t there just be three, two, or ever better, one? Yes, they each have their stats–one’s good for charging, one’s good for longer ranged firefights, and one’s equipped with flaming rounds–but in the long run, is it all necessary? Couldn’t one, well-balanced shotgun do the work of eight? Half Life 2 did it and no one complained.
Bigger set-pieces? Absolutely, each game has to feature bigger, better, and sexier explosions than the last one’s to stay one the market, and one the minds of gamers.
How many times have you gone through hallway after hallway shooting bad guy after bad guy? Isn’t it time that we were treated better?
Read on to find out if Bulletstorm will treat you better…
The Good and The Bad.
First off let me talk, in two parts, about the levels.
Firstly: let me tell you how varied and beautiful Bulletstorm is. A ruined, futuristic sin city, an overgrown botanical garden filled with mutant plants, and an abandoned drilling station to name a few. All of these locations absolutely stunning, colors are everywhere. Orange, green, blue, red, brown, you name it, it’s probably in Bulletstorm.Yes, I did go in a few FPS classic ruined buildings, but the game wasn’t the usual boring eyesore that a lot of FPS’s these days are.
And secondly I’d like to talk about the level layout. During my time playing FPS’s I’ve encountered a countless amount of rubble, that most of the time doesn’t have any reason why it got there, and its only purpose is to confine you to the path that the developers built. Things like that always pissed me off. I like to be able to go into a fight from different angles. I’m not going to say that Bulletstorm is completely open, but in this case I didn’t feel cheated, as I often do. When there were doors that were blocked or wouldn’t open the reasons to be that way. And while the levels aren’t “open-world” the do usually provide more ways to go in to each fight. There were often battles in courtyards, or courtyards like places. And within this maps they also gave you the environment to play with so that they each level was just an endless maze of hallways filled with baddies to shoot.
In Bulletstorm they, the developers, introduced a new way to play FPS’s, the “skillshot” system. The skillshot system is much like tricks in a skating game. If you kill somebody a certain way then you earn more points than if you simply killed them. Much of the game is centered around this system, and rightly so. With the inclusion of skillshots the gameplay becomes more varied and makes it feel more like the game is a giant sandbox of death, rather than a gray maze-like shooting gallery.
With over a hundred different skillshots I never got bored with using them, quite the opposite; if I killed somebody without using a skillshot, and a measly +10 popped up on the screen it was a disappointment.
Some of the skillshots are environment based, some have to do with a gun you used, and others happen only once in the game. You might be tasked with first shooting a guy in the balls, and then while his howling in pain, kick his head off. Name of that skillshot: “Mercy.” Another one is to use the alternate fire, or “chargeshot,” of your basic rifle, to shoot a hundred bullets into someones head. Name of that skillshot: “Overkill.”
As I mentioned before with each kill–and certain other actions–you earn points, if you pulled off a skillshot then you get more points. But what do you do with those points? You use them to buy ammo, upgrade the ammo holding, unlock each guns charge, buy chargeshots, or boost the amount of charges each gun can hold. So skillshots are not only fun but the can also help how survive. The more you do the you can do in a way.
Along with the creative skillshot system all the weapons are amazingly fun to use. These aren’t your everyday guns, no, most of them are very unique. There a quadruple-barreled shotgun, a gun the fires drills into your enemies, a gun the fires two grenades attached by a chain, and a sniper rifle that allows you to control the bullet. Those are just a few of the guns, there isn’t a ton of guns, but they struck a near-perfect balance. There were just enough guns for me use, but also I always wanted to find out what my next gun was gunna be.
And keep in mind that each gun also has a seconder chargeshot. Such as, explosive sniper bullets, a bouncy ball of death, and shooting a flair instead of a bullet.
As said above, the scenery is beautiful, but that would be for not if that graphics too don’t shine. And boy does Epic know how to work Unreal engine. The graphics are amazing. But I’m not going to talk about their great qualities, I’ve already spoke at some length about them. No, instead I’m going to talk about what went wrong.
Everything around the characters heads. From lipsyncing, hair animations, to just plain bad graphics on their heads. The lipsyncing is terrible, but that’s not too uncommon and there isn’t much else to say about. Hair animations on the one female character were…odd. During cutscenes her hair would sometimes just waving around in weird directions, then stop, only to start back up a second later. I don’t know if this was supposed to be her hair in the wind, an accident, or just the game I had was just messed up. And also the graphics for character heads just weren’t good, but that problem only seemed to apply to the main characters. Their eyes were dull little beads in their faces, the skin looked a fake, and a little like plastic, and their heads mostly looked generic.
Setpieces moments are what sells games. If people see an awesome, incredible, and/or explosive moment in a game trailer, or gameplay video they are going to want to play the game. Games that don’t have them rarely stay around for very long. And even games that do have them, if they weren’t bigger the last game to come out, then they are enough. So does Bulletstorm have what it takes? Are its setpieces big enough?
The answer is…more so then most people. Here are a few of my favorite moments in the game. The very beginning when you “question” a man, a little later when you are walking down the side of a building to go assassinate somebody, and when you get to control a giant toy dinosaur. And there are many more to experience yourself.
Sadly the story that goes along with these setpieces isn’t as exciting as the moments themselves. The story isn’t bad. It just fails to excite, and towards the end it does a poor good of explaining few things about the world.
The best thing about the story–or more the storytelling–is that instead of the classic “silent protagonist” they gave your character a voice. I thought that was a very good choice. It opened up more options to deepen the characters, which are actually well written.
All-in-all Bulletstorm is a great game. It does have some of the problems that I think most FPS’s have these days. But it does a good job of combating those problems.
If you haven’t at least tried these game, you should go rent it or buy it now. The skillshots are just too much fun to miss.
Visuals: Unreal engine 3 at its near best. But the facial area of graphics and animations fail to impress.
Sound: Music is good but infrequent, voice acting is good but expect to hear a lot about penises, and the sounds of battles sounds as good as ever.
Gameplay: An absolute blast to play. Fluid and responsive as a game should be, I never had a problem with the controls. And skillshots are fun and mostly easy to pull off.
Worth Your Money: Yes. The campaign alone is worth it, but on the shorter side. But once you beat the campaign you can go back and try to best you score for each level.
Console: Xbox 360 is what I review it on but it is also available on the PS3.
Developer: Epic Games and People Can Fly.
Parental Rating: M/17+
Overall Score: 9.5/10