It may not be new but the 2011 first-person shooter has returned to modern consoles with a fresh coat of paint and a few additions.
In Bulletstorm, you play as an elite mercenary named Grayson Hunt. In an early flashback, you see that Grayson and his team used to work for the vile General Sarrano but during one of their assassination missions, they find out that they've been tricked into murdering innocent people. This causes them to break away from Sarrano and upon coming across Sarrano's warship ten years later, a drunken Grayson orders an attack that results in the crash-landing of both ships on a dangerous planet below. Most of Grayson's crew die in the wreckage and he's left with the half-robotic and mostly disagreeable Ishi who doesn't approve of Grayson's reckless ways and blames him for them both being stranded. They're forced to work together to survive the various factions and dangerous fauna that live on the planet.
Bulletstorm's tone is notably juvenile in an over-the-top way. The dialog is filled with immature and vulgar jokes, and it seems to love combining two seemingly unrelated swear words to form new ones. This type of comedy is either going to land or completely miss the mark. For me, it's closer to missing the mark and sometimes makes it a little hard to root for some of the lead characters.
Although Bulletstorm is a first-person shooter, it packs a few tricks up its sleeve that make it significantly more diverse and enjoyable than your typical corridor shooter such as Grayson's leash and kick abilities. Early on, Grayson finds an energy leash that allows him to wrangle and pull enemies towards him. It also results in the enemies flying through the air in slow-motion for just a couple seconds, giving you the opportunity to pull off a slick headshot. Kicking enemies works the same way but sends nearby foes flying in the opposite direction.
There are only seven different guns but they all have very unique properties that make you want to become proficient with all of them. There's a traditional machine gun (of course) but there's also a sniper rifle with which you can control the trajectory of the bullet and an explosive flail launcher that you can wrap around enemies and then detonate. Each weapon has a charge ability that can be unlocked via dropkits that are scattered around the planet and even though limited on ammo, these abilities can cause major havoc.
What fun would these cool features and weapons be without incentive to use them? Fortunately, the game has 131 different skillshots that you can accomplish by effectively utilizing and combining these talents and weapons. You can view many of the skillshot requirements in the pause menu but some others are hidden and can only be unlocked after you accomplish them.
These skillshots are what make Bulletstorm great. Instead of just pressing forward and shooting enemies in the head, you're constantly surveying your environment as well as your inventory to determine if you can pull off a special skillshot. Skillshots range from simple things like pulling or kicking enemies into spiked cactuses or electrified wires but get as complex as using your leash to launch multiple enemies in the air at the same time then firing an explosive weapon to blow them to shreds and have their guts rain down on you. There's nothing more satisfying than successfully executing a challenging skillshot and to give you even more incentive to focus on them, skillshots reward you with skillpoints which are used at dropkits to upgrade weapons and purchase ammo.
Alongside the 8 to 10 hour campaign, two additional modes add some longevity. The first is Echoes mode which puts you in small, action-filled segments of the campaign and challenges you to score as many skillpoints as you can while completing it as quickly as possible. There are thirty of these Echoes in the Full Clip Edition and a brand new Ultimate Echoes mode that throws in additional requirements like beating an Echo without using any guns or only awarding skillpoints for certain types of skillshots. These Echoes will take you hours to complete and master but are really geared for the Bulletstorm faithful since you'll be playing the same segments over and over.
Bulletstorm also features a horde-based online multiplayer mode. You and up to three others can team up on one of twelve different maps to fight waves of enemies. Skillshots play an important role in this mode, too, as each wave has a minimum skillpoint threshold that must be met. There is also a variety of exciting team-based skillshots that can only be executed in this mode. Between waves, you can upgrade your weapons and there's also an overarching progression system that will award you with skins and such as you level up.
Graphically, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition looks a bit better than the 2011 version although it's still easy to tell that it's merely a remastered game from last generation. Many of the visuals (especially during cutscenes) lack extensive details on assets and characters. The frame rate feels smoother than the original version but if you're only interested in picking up the Full Clip Edition to see how much better it looks and performs, you're probably going to be disappointed.
Duke Nukem's Bulletstorm Tour
One other interesting addition to the Full Clip Edition is the inclusion of Duke Nukem as a playable character. By pre-ordering the game or paying a small amount of money, you can unlock The King as the central character, thus replacing Grayson Hunt. Duke Nukem has all new recorded dialog which gives the campaign a bit of a different tone but there are no actual gameplay changes when you play as Duke. None of the other characters' dialog has been changed either so characters regularly refer to you as "Gray" or "Grayson". Fortunately, Duke has a few humorous one-liners for some of those instances.
Bulletstorm was a great game in 2011 and it's just as enjoyable in 2017. The graphical upgrades of the Full Clip Edition are nothing to write home about and the added features aren't terribly significant but the core Bulletstorm experience is still as exciting as ever.
- + Great weapon variety
- + Skillshots are a blast to execute
- + Cooperative online multiplayer is simple and fun with friends
- - Juvenile dialog is really hit or miss
- - Visual upgrades to the Full Clip Edition aren't all that noticeable