Bulletstorm 360, PS3, PC Review

Some games take themselves far too seriously. Bulletstorm is not one of those games. With it’s cliché-ridden sci-fi storyline, incredibly over-the-top weapons and puerile sense of humour, it’s definitely a bit ‘out there’.

You play as Grayson Hunt, ex-assassin for the Confederacy, wandering space and dreaming of revenge against his old boss, General Sarrano. After unexpectedly encountering Sarrano’s flagship, Hunt makes a suicidal attack on it, causing everyone to crash-land on the planet Stygia. Half an hour later, Hunt’s only get one friend left – his former partner-in-assassination, Ishi Sato – and he’s had half his body replaced with robot parts to keep him alive. This doesn’t make him the cheeriest companion for your journey across Stygia, but the perfect straight man for Hunt, who quips his way through never-ending combat against feral gangs, mutants, confederacy forces and Stygia’s indigenous life forms.

You’ll start off with the bog-standard machine gun, but before long you’ll get your hands on a leash, thanks to an unfortunate confederacy trooper. This is when the fun really starts; with the leash you can grab things – enemies, environmental objects and weapons – and have them come flying towards you. Combine this with your kick and a sliding tackle, and you’ve got the power to start getting creative with your kills. The world of Stygia is filled with hazards; some natural, some man-made, but all deadly. Give a bad guy a good boot into one of them and you’ll not only kill him, but also get some flashy text telling you the name of the kill. Kick him into some water, he’s ‘fish food’. Kick him over a cliff, he’s got ‘vertigo’. Kick him into some spikes, he’s a ‘voodoo doll’. There are dozens of possible permutations, each with its own name, and half the fun is discovering new ones.

The leash isn’t just a weapon, either; it judges your kills, and awards you points for them. The more creative you are, the more points you get. These points can be used at the confederacy drop kits you’ll find dotted around the place, which effectively act as shops. Here you can upgrade your arsenal, buy ammo, and switch weapons. Switching weapons will become more and more of a necessity the further you get in the game; there are lots of different types of enemies in the game, and some weapons work better than others on certain enemies. You get your standard FPS staples; machine gun, shotgun, sniper rifle, but all with a bit of a twist. The sniper rifle, for example, is one of the best I’ve ever used in a game, allowing you to steer your bullets to their target.

There’s some totally original weapons in there too. My personal favourite has to be the gun that fires explosive bolas; just fire at someone, and the grenades wrap themselves around them. Another pull of the trigger and kaboom, no more bad guy. All the guns also have a charge mode, which produces even more devastating results. The standard assault rifle, for example, fires out an entire clip in one shot, punching straight through anything in its way.

The game’s story maintains the pacing, and introduces a couple of extra characters along the way. One of Sarrano’s lieutenants, Trishka, joins your team mid-way, while the General himself appears towards the end of the game. Bulletstorm has everything you could possibly want in a story-based shooter; a good story, great characters, and shedloads of action. It also leaves enough unresolved plot lines to accommodate an inevitable sequel; wait ’til the end of the credits for a clue as to what you can expect from that.

As a single player game it is faultless, but sadly it does fall down on the multiplayer side of things. They really dropped the ball badly here, as there is no direct competitive multiplayer part to the game whatsoever. You can play Echoes mode, which is just the story mode chopped in to segments with a leaderboard as to who can get the highest score. Or you can play Anarchy, a co-operative mode where four people can team up and try to make points targets to progress through levels. These are okay, even fun for a bit, but they are no substitute for some proper multiplayer action. The potential is there – with the fantastic weapons, environments and game mechanics – for an amazing multiplayer game, something that needs to be addressed in the sequel.

Bulletstorm is one of the finest single player games I’ve played in a long time. I can’t remember the last time I was up to 5am playing any game. It’s a pity about the lack of competitive multiplayer, but Echoes and Anarchy game modes do add some longevity to it. Even without them, though, it is definitely worth the asking price. If you like shooters, sci-fi, a good revenge story or giant robot dinosaurs, then Bulletstorm has something for you.

9/10

by

Version tested: Xbox 360

Developer: People Can Fly

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: FPS