In today’s gaming market, it's rather refreshing to see a new IP released by a company. We have become accustomed to seeing a nonstop flow of sequels and remakes over the past few years; new ideas are often dropped in favor of rehashing “sure-fire” winners, which makes economic sense for the parties involved; Epic Games for example, is a studio known for sticking with its existing portfolio. It has been years since they brought a completely new creation to the gaming world. When they bring forth a completely new title, gamers are sure to take notice. Surely this new project is something special if the “house that Unreal built” is attaching its name to the cover. When you add in the development team at People Can Fly (PCF), who have shown that they know how to put the fun in a shooter thanks to their work on the Painkiller series, and you could practically sell the game on concept alone.
Enter Bulletstorm, the result of combining PCF’s imagination with Epic’s technical prowess. I fell that I should warn you, take every preconceived notion that you have about a console shooter and throw it out the window. This game isn’t about presenting a great story wrapped in a realistic military world. The name of the game here is blowing stuff up and having a ton of fun and the more chaotic the action, the better. The game has all the charm of a straight to video, B-level action movie and close to the same “class” as well. Don’t expect to find grade-A dialog and politically correct content; in fact, everything in Bulletstorm is the polar opposite. The action is over the top and violent, the characters are generic and forgettable, and the dialog is as corny as it is colorful and offensive...but it all comes together to create one hell of a fun ride.
As I said, the tale told in Bulletstorm isn’t anything groundbreaking or memorable, but that is because it isn’t the focus of the game. You play as Grayson Hunt, the leader of a ragtag group of space pirates hell-bent on seeking revenge on General Sarrano, who double-crossed them during their military careers. Due to the actions of Sarrano, Grayson and his crew, known as Dead Echo, are now on the galaxy’s most wanted list and have become soldiers without a country. Fate leads them to an unexpected confrontation with that General and his new army, resulting in a short battle that leads to both parties crashing on the war-torn planet of Stygia. When the dust settles, only Grayson and his best friend Ishi remain, both desperately hoping to find General Sarrano but for different reasons: Grayson wants revenge and Ishi simply wants to get off of the abandoned planet. The plot is as much of a buddy-adventure as it is a story of revenge. Grayson must learn to finally put his lust for Sarrano’s blood in check for the benefit of Ishi, who is now kept alive by cybernetic implants. Ishi is only interested in getting off of the planet alive as he battles to keep hold of his human self; the AI driving his mechanical parts is slowly taking control killing the one person Grayson trusts. The tale is filled with twists and turns as well as some of the most offensive and crude dialog that you have ever heard.
This is one game that you definitely do not want to play around the kids; as I am sure you can tell from the various previews and promotional material from the game, Bulletstorm is sort of a lesson in deviant behavior. The characters constantly spew sexual innuendos and f-bombs while the violence level of the action is turned up to about 15 on a 10-point scale. All of this is done in a nonchalant manner with any and all seriousness completely thrown out the window. PCF doesn’t expect you to take the plot seriously as it doesn’t even take itself seriously. Fortunately, you can tone done both the visual violence and the vulgarity within the game’s option mode, making it a little less offensive, but not by much. At least you won’t have to listen to the f-word every two seconds, if that sort of thing bothers you.
If you can stomach the story and all of its crude content, and take it for what it is, the adventure is an enjoyable one. The story is meant simply to introduce you to the world of Bulletstorm, not to engulf you in it as the world isn’t the attraction, that would be the action. The world of Bulletstorm is all about action and carnage and it is up to you to create it with the game’s Skillshot system. The slogan I am sure that you have heard time and time again is “kill with skill”, and the more of that you do the more benefits you will reap. Players are rewarded for dispatching their enemies in a wide variety of preset ways, which have been dubbed Skillshots. There are well over a hundred in the game and different combinations of them yields various scores, which you are encouraged to use and rack up as high of a total as possible. The gameplay is a throwback to the old arcade days of setting a high score for yourself and your friends, then striving to top that score... over and over again. This mechanic is likely to turn a lot of players off but just happens to be right up my alley. The game has a certain repetitive aspect to it by design, which will likely annoy players with a short attention span.
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