Current Status : Campaign cleared (Very Hard).
Next Update : Covering my Echoes mode and multiplayer experience.
Part I : Bulletstorm at its hardest.
Fucking Ishi, if you block my slide one more time, I’m going to strangle you.
Before anything, I gotta admit, I hate games like Halo and Gears of War when it comes to fps games. Growing up on the old wad based games like Doom, Heretic and Hexen and the early games that used 3d models (Unreal Tournament before the awful sequels and Quake 2/3) along with many of their custom mods and maps, I did not really enjoy the sluggish nature of either game whenever I would gather with some friends to play… Nowadays I just say “No thanks, give me a call if you put on Timesplitters”.
Bulletstorm’s claim to fame is that it is different than every other boring fps on the market today. I didn’t know what to think, coming from People Can Fly and Epic, the company responsible for both Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. Nowadays, I don’t know what the fuck my computer can run when it comes to gaming, and since I have enough modded games to go back to on the PC, I ended up getting the PS3 version of Bulletstorm.
So, does it put all of today’s shooters to shame? Yes and no. The pacing is where it’s at, hordes of things to kill by whatever means – you can gun down a couple of guys only to kick one into a bed of spikes with just enough time to leash the asshole hiding behind a barricade so you can kick him off a cliff and hide in a corner before some other people finish you off. It’s intense and a lot of people die by your hand.
Playing on Very Hard was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Killing most enemies via leash and kicking into traps, I had more than enough points to keep a steady ammo supply. Of course, being Very Hard, I was also not about to experiment with some of the weirder guns. Since you can only carry three at a time, I kept it to my assault rifle, revolver and sniper for most of the game. There is only one real boss fight (maybe 3 if you consider those two enemies bosses), and dropkits are frequent enough that it was hard to run out of ammo for any of my guns. Once you get a good combo down, killing the minibosses also becomes a breeze (Snipe in the face, leash mask off while he’s stunned, snipe in the face to specify my most used method).
The best part in regards to movement is the slide feature. You slide faster than you walk, you can turn while sliding and since you’re sliding and all, you’re a harder target to hit. For a quick getaway to a corner for a breather and regenerating your health, there could be no better lifesaver added to the controls. It is, however, not implemented perfectly. There are spots where it’s easy to get stuck on something while sliding. If the game detects that you are sliding into any kind of obstruction (many of them you can’t see), the animation goes on, but you don’t move an inch, leaving you a sitting duck. What’s worse, those times that you need to get out in order to survive, the AI characters (Ishi in particular) tend to stand right along your escape path stopping your slide in its tracks as you die a horrible death. If you play like me, death by Ishi will be a common occurrence.
The story pissed me off. It’s all nice and predictable until the very end, where it leaves you on a double-cliffhanger and basically says “If you want any kind of resolution, you’re gonna have to buy Bulletstorm 2!”
Of course, I would be a liar if I said I played my shooters for the story, so that’s fine. The action is otherwise solid. With a large list of skill shots you have to make to 100% the game, there is enough variety to keep you coming. Also, while the game is painfully linear, there are hidden nooks and crannies here and there with hidden newsbots to destroy and swarms of fireflies that you can blow up. There are of course trophies that apply to finding all of them, and with the constant gunfire and explosions, it’s easy to miss these secrets on the first playthrough. This is also what gives the game any sense of replay value, so if that’s your style, you should check it out.
I hear the multiplayer is pretty bare which makes me a little sad, since there’s no hope of modding my humble PS3 version. Hopefully Bulletstorm gets some good fan treatment on the PC circuit – I would be happy to get a copy and see how mods and user created levels/campaigns might turn out.
Give it a Shot if :
- You like finding a variety of ways to kill the opposition
- Over-the-top weaponry happens to be your style : sniper bullets you can steer to the target’s face, explosive flails that wrap around people before detonating and a revolver that also shoots flares that spin around like in Timesplitters Future Perfect (my favorite gun)
- You enjoy fast paced shooters, and look forward to a good single-player campaign more than an in depth multiplayer.
Stay far Away if :
- You need a plot that keeps you guessing
- Tons of sexual jokes and immature humor put you off
- Linear games are not your style
- You expect an epic final boss battle. -spoiler- Doesn’t happen.
- Various multiplayer modes are anticipated. I still haven’t checked it out yet, but I hear Deathmatch/Team Deathmatch are nonexistent.
Part 2 : Related Article Discussion
My buddy Prota put up an enlightening article recently about defending video games as a hobby. In it, he links to another article discussing Bulletstorm and how it is -gasp- not safe for kids to play, what, with its M rating and all.
Now, to this article’s credit, there is one psychologist they quote who seems to know what they’re talking about, that is about how the game rewards players for thinking outside the box and encourages seeking out different ways to achieve their goal of killing the enemy. Of course, they save the positive talk about gaming for the very last paragraph.
For the record, if your 9 year old knows what gang banging is (a requirement for understanding the humor behind the skill shot in question) in the first place, the problem is not in the game, but in shitty parenting. When I was a kid, my parents would watch the nastiest, most vulgar stand-up comedy they could put on, and they would laugh every now and then at jokes that I Didn’t get. They never explained the meaning of the jokes to me, and I would sit there, not laughing and wondering what they found so funny…. nowadays I laugh my ass off at some of those classic stand-up shows, but when I was 9, I was a victim of my own ignorance, and I had better things to do than look up the meaning behind one word. Of course, these “psychologists” and other “experts” assume that these poor kids with a particularly underdeveloped vocabulary can fully comprehend the sexual innuendo provided by Bulletstorm. I call bullshit.
Next Update : Multiplayer and Echoes if I ever get into them.