Hi there. Is this the final straw? Are you tired of games like Killzone and Call of Duty taking themselves too seriously? Do you want to play a game so over-the-top that you can brag about it? Wouldn’t you rather tear out your brain stem, run with it all the way to the nearest four-way intersection and skip rope with it than continue to wait another moment for Gears of War 3? Or Resistance 3? Or any other kill-fest for that matter? If so, than the good people at Epic Games and People Can Fly may just have the game for you. Available now for both Xbox 360 and PS3, allow me to introduce Bulletstorm.
You are Grayson Hunt, the once proud cool-headed leader of Dead Echo; a once proud and proficient black ops team ran by the 26th Century Confederation of Planets. But not any more. Turns out Echo’s boss, General Serrano, (who could only be properly defined with words that are far too inappropriate for Toy-TMA) was using their talents to enforce his own totalitarian brand of peacekeeping on the real good guys; something our guys weren’t too happy to find out. Fast forward ten years later, where Captain Hunt is now a guilt ridden drunk of a space pirate and the most wanted man in the galaxy, and all his Dead Echo buddies are… well… dead mostly, save for one, Ishi Sato. After ramming their ship into the engine of Serrano’s precious flagship Ulysses (the Roman name of the Greek warrior Odysseus) our broken antiheroes (Grey mentally, Ishi physically) find themselves crash landing on the abandon resort planet Stygia. And hilarity ensues.
So no, this story isn’t doing anything groundbreaking for an FPS by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that it’s worth mentioning that Bulletstorm feels like it purposely sought to be very tongue and cheek. It is almost the opposite effect of the Killzone 3 story, a game that tries so hard to create this huge epic drama on war while keeping a straight face, even when its performance just isn’t up for the task. Bulletstorm however, had no intentions of taking itself seriously, instead letting the gameplay take the reigns, yet the slightest hints of development in these very familiar gaming troupes that define our protagonists felt surprisingly genuine. Remember how I said the flagship was called Ulysses? Well I myself am sensing just a little symbolism with the Odyssey, with Grey being the broken captain in a decade-long mission that leads all of his allies to death.
At the very least, its plot and writing is a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the Gears of War games.
You know what IS unique about this game? The setting. Planet Stygia is literally an entire resort planet. Think of it as a rundown Las Vegas: plenty of sunny skies, beautiful waterfalls, miles of countryside, hotels on every corner, exotic plant life, VERY exotic plant life, rampaging thousand-foot-tall monsters, oh yeah, and every single human resident on the planet has mutated into savage gangsters, or worse, cannibals. Have fun.
And fun is exactly what this game delivers. The shooting element of this game runs on a Skill Point system where you score points on all the unique and interesting ways you kill your enemies. Grayson is armed with an electron leash that reels enemies in, as well as both a kick and slide technique, that can all be used to line your target up in slow motion for certain skill shots. If you just try to play this game conservatively like other competitive shooters (or rushing in guns blazing for that matter), you’re going to have some problems. See, your progression relies on your will to experiment, as these skill points are needed for you to pay for new weapons, upgrades, and ammo. Sure there are the typical points for head shot, crotch shot, burn, electrocute, impale, but there’s also points for kicking people off cliffs, throwing them into cacti, feeding them to man-eating-plants, poisoning them with anger toxin so they attack themselves, and let;s not forget the X-Ray.
For those of you into the online multiplayer crowd, this may seem like a refreshing change of pace. Now, you are not scored by your body count, but more on your style. Yeah, that’s a swell massage to teach gamers: “It’s not about how many people you kill, it’s how you kill them.”
Its already obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. This game is definitely not for kids. It is violent to the third power and the language is unabashedly profane. If you are someone who is even the slightest bit uncomfortable with harsh language, then might I consider spending your time and money elsewhere.
So the game showcases some excellent ideas and amazing action set pieces. A whole lot of them, like the chase from the Ferris wheel in the desert, and the boss fight with the giant plant, are spaced out pretty well in the beginning and middle of the campaign. Too bad the final act doesn’t have anything that really matches those moments. Instead, it jacks up the difficulty by increasing the enemy count, adds some Quick-Time-Events, and calls it a climax. The story’s conclusion, I was pretty much fine with, yet the post-credit scene kind of weirded me out.
Despite all that, I still had a blast with Bulletstorm, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t the biggest FPS fan. I liked the protagonists. I hated the antagonist (in the way you are suppose to). The dialogue, if you can handle it, is colorful and hilarious in its own way. Plus, how can you not have fun with a game that gives you a remote-controlled-robot-T-Rex with laser beams attached to its head?
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