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Bulletstorm Review

This is a discussion on Bulletstorm Review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; Bulletstorm: Official Review by Gauss Basic Information: Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games Publisher: EA Games North American Release Date: 2/22/2011 ...

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    Bulletstorm Review

    Bulletstorm: Official Review
    by Gauss


    Basic Information:
    Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games
    Publisher: EA Games
    North American Release Date: 2/22/2011
    European Release Date: 2/25/2011
    Trophies: Yes


    Overview
    Bulletstorm takes place in the 26th Century in a universe where Humanity has expanded out into the stars. You play as Grayson Hunt, a former Dead Echo who worked Black Ops for the Confederacy. After being betrayed you seek revenge on your old Commander, and in doing so end up stranded with the team that replaced you on a former paradise planet that has experienced a major disaster.

    Bulletstorm is a game that emphasizes creative and unique ways of dispatching the cannon-fodder thrown in front of you. It can be viewed as a spiritual successor to People Can Fly's last great title, Painkiller, because the gameplay is on that same emotional wavelength and features a natural evolution of many of those gameplay concepts.

    Gameplay
    Bulletstorm is an Arcade Style shooter at its core: enemies don't pose a huge challenge, guns have no recoil/accuracy issues, you have access to some crazy abilities, etc. It does borrow two chief elements from Modern/Realistic shooters: Regening health and limited carrying arsenal. Its a mix that should be familiar to fans of Resistance, and this is a good thing because it keeps the pace up and meshes perfectly with the overall tone of the game.

    There are several guns you have access to and they range from the mundane pistol and carbine to the crazy fun Flail Gun, a gun that launches a Flail with two grenades attached to each end, and Penetrator, a drill gun. Each gun has a specific number of skillshots available to it that involve killing the baddies in each level in creative ways. Each skillshot provides a bonus relative to its difficult, and the bonuses earn you new weapons, upgrades, and experience in the case of multiplayer. The skillshots can be a simple as landing a headshot to as complicated as shooting a guy in the balls then kicking him in the face. Since skillshots stack, PCF creates a whole new level of gameplay by trying to find new ways of combining skillshots and the end results are just entertaining.


    The end result makes the mayhem all the sweeter.

    While over the top guns aren't necessarily new to the fps genre, People Can Fly/Epic's innovation doesn't stop at skillshots. One of the unique gameplay elements added is your Energy Leash, an item which can be used to whip enemies around the battlefield and into explosives or other environmental hazards or toward you allowing the possibility for intricate skillshots during the period of time the enemy is disabled right after the Energy Leash is finished. This is not as revolutionary as Half-Life 2's Gravity Gun, but it fundamentally changes and expands the way the game can be played adding dozens of new options and it really brings the whole experience up a notch.

    This game is the spiritual successor to Painkiller in every way, and much like Painkiller and its ilk (Serious Sam, Duke Nukem, etc) the game is all about enjoying dispatching enemies in the most crazy ways possible.

    Singleplayer
    Bulletstorm takes place in the future, in a universe run by the Confederation. You play as Grayson Hunt, a former black-ops agent apart of Dead Echo. You were ordered to assassinate somebody and found out you were betrayed. This betrayal finds you and your team leaving Dead Echo to become pirates. Several years later you locate the ship of your former commanding officer, and after a fight both your ships are disabled and stranded on Stygia.

    Stygia was a "Planet Vegas" style resort, but has gone completely feral, and it turns out the locals don't like any of you. The rest of the game has you trying to find a way off the planet, which will require you to befriend a Confederate black-ops agent, a hottie named Trishka, as you and your surviving crew member, Ishi, rescue General Serrano in an effort to force him to take you off world.

    The story, at its heart, isn't complicated. Don't mix that up with "bad" though, the story is actually the best Epic has ever inked its name on... It plays alot like a typical action movie, but with a real sense of humor about itself. Much like Red Alert 3 or Ratchet and Clank, this is not a story meant to be taken seriously. There is conflict and drama, yes, but everything is done with an air that is very over-the-top action-oriented, much like the gameplay. The set-pieces and level bosses fit this mold perfectly as well. That is what makes it so good, its easy to follow and has some solid characters, but it is aware of the type of game the gameplay is trying to create. It focuses on the fun, and it is an incredibly fun 8-12 hours.


    This game has some really phenomenal set pieces

    Aside from the singleplayer campaign, there is a mode called "Echoes" where the player can play through certain levels in an effort to obtain high-scores by doing skillshots and getting through the Echoes quickly. This is the other area the game really comes into its own, it takes some of what made the campaign great and kicks it up a notch by providing extra challenges in the same over-the-top style. This really adds a lot more singleplayer content and easily doubles the size of the game.

    Multiplayer
    The Multiplayer component of Bulletstorm is a whole lot of fun. The basic setup in Anarchy is wave after wave of bad-guys come after you and your goal is on each wave to attain a total group score greater than a certain number. This number increases with each subsequent wave, as do the number and difficulty of bad-guys. Each map has specific skillshots that can help your team rack up alot of points, and the maps are very different from SP.

    PCF/Epic choose arguably the most important aspect to any game to integrate into its MP: Fun! Flat out this MP is very approachable and not very frustrating. It has a bit of a learning curve because the upgrade system is different in MP, but it takes everything that was great about the SP and puts it in a MP environment. The whole design encourages teamwork and its just entertaining. You and your group will spend hours seeing how crazy the kills can get. One of you drills a baddie into a dinosaur skull to crush them, the next one steps it up by flailing a grenade around a baddies head and kicking him into a tornado. The next match you snipe a baddie into another and both get crushed in a spinning grinder, etc, etc. It keeps all the same tone and fun that comes in the SP and just puts you and 3 friends in the mix.


    The Energy Leash is a core element of single and multiplayer Gameplay.

    The upgrade system in MP is built like Counterstrike, each member of the team uses the points they earned the previous wave to buy weapons and upgrades for the current wave. Its a great system that rewards through instant gratification and keeps the MP very balanced. If you are the best, you garner the most points. My only real complaint is a small one, the unlocks you get for leveling really aren't useful. All of the weapon unlocks and boosts are provided through individual matches and purchasable in between waves, and that is a great way of doing it. It would have been nice for PCF/Epic to provide something other than skins as rewards for leveling, without that or any other ways to expand your character. The MP lacks some of the depth other shooters, such as KZ3, have.

    Its a very minor complaint, and definitely comes with a big up-side, but it should be noted because that lack of depth combined with the relatively small number of maps makes the MP feel smaller than it should and the way PCF/Epic choose to do upgrades shouldn't exclude rewarding higher level players.

    Technical
    From a technical standpoint Bulletstorm deserves some recognition for immersion. Stygia, the planet, feels alive, feels big, and most importantly, feels believable. There is alot here that many other titles can learn from, the levels feature scenery that really convey the size of the level, it really feels like roaming a large desert or a deserted city. Much like Dead Space, you will find yourself very much engrossed with the environment because everything fits the atmosphere perfectly.

    The other big thing Bulletstorm needs recognition for is style. This game reeks of originality and identity, the guns all have character, the characters all have a unique look, as does the environment and cannon-fodder for you. Everything looks in place and has a very well defined signature that really should be envied, particularly in contrast to some of Epic's other work which has really not had this quality.

    The audio for Bulletstorm is good, not great. The soundtrack is somewhat forgettable, it carries the singleplayer scenes and multiplayer well and does a good job of conveying what it needs to convey. If you heard any song out of context though, it would be difficult to discern it from another. The voice-acting is top-notch, although this should be prefaced against this story not having a lot of need for emotion. The story and setting is all about fun, and the voice-acting definitely carries that tone perfectly.

    Only major technical issue is some bugs that seems to crop up from time to time. Randomly during the singleplayer portion of the game you may lose upgrades, but it still indicates you spent points on those upgrades. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it happens after you spend 5-6k on upgrades only to find out at the next upgrade-station/dropkit that the game forgot you bought those things... but not that you spent the points to buy them. The game also has an issue with freezing and glitching during loading, it has happened to me more than once and there have been a handful of others who have seen this happen to them. It happens very intermittently and not necessarily to everyone, so I wouldn't let it deter you from buying this game. I've yet to hear or experience data corruption as a result of it. Hopefully it will be patched, but this annoyance keeps me from giving it a higher score.

    Trophies
    The trophies for Bulletstorm, in true Epic Games fashion, are not your typical set of accomplishments. Yes there are a couple story related and a couple "collection" trophies, but for the most part the trophies require an actual accomplishment, so only about 1/3rd of the list will the average player get in the course of gaming "blindly."

    That being said most of the trophies aren't incredibly difficult, attaining level 65 in Anarchy Mode is a grind and getting 50k in one round in Anarchy Mode can be very difficult. For the most part though all of the trophies can be easily obtained by learning to play the game and having some talent with FPSs. Not a platinum you will get through a traditional rent, but not a crazy one to obtain.

    Closing Thoughts
    Bulletstorm really is a masterpiece, although it did not attain a perfect score it really deserves to be in the collection of any shooter fan. While I am not one to speak negatively or deceptively about Modern Shooters, Bulletstorm is a perfect chaser to them. An arcade shooter that doesn't take itself seriously and is all about over-the-top action.

    Gameplay: 10/10
    - People Can Fly/Epic did a phenomenal job creating this game. Skillshots are a blast and hours of fun can be lost figuring out crazy new ways to dispatch enemies.

    Singleplayer: 9/10
    - The campaign for Bulletstorm is what it should be, a great compliment to the gameplay. It was built and designed knowing exactly what the gameplay needed it to be: an over-the-top, almost silly, action movie. It may be the best Epic has been involved with to date.

    Multiplayer: 9/10
    - Bulletstorm is some of the most fun I've had in MP since the PS3 came out. While the depth of other MP games isn't there, make no mistake, Bulletstorm is FUN!

    Technical: 8/10
    - Bulletstorm really nails the style-aspect that is so important in gaming. Some bugs definitely hold it back.

    Overall: 9/10 Brilliant

    EDIT: For everybody's information, this game does contain some of the foulest language in a game to date and the gore you'd expect out of a shooter. While all of this is done in a comical tone, if you have kids or this interferes with your ability to enjoy this wonderful game please be aware that PCF/Epic have included both a language and a gore filter in this game. The filters are top-notch too.

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    Take Borderlands, turn it from open world to linear format, give it an average story with lousy voice acting. Lame 6/10

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    Personally, I love this game, but I don't necessarily agree with a few points. I don't think this game 'reeks of originality'. I found it to have an extraordinary amount of similarities to COD. Heck, the Echoes mode is practically Special Ops under a different name. But I will concede that this game does have some pretty original elements to it such as the energy leash, the boot and the slide. I don't know that I'd score it quite as high as 9 though (maybe an 8 or 8.5), only because both myself and a good number of the other players I've played online with find this game to be a bit on the buggy side and it definitely tends to have a mind of it's own. But otherwise I do agree with the majority of the review - this is a great looking game with some original elements and is massive fun to play.

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    This sounds pretty cool. Might have to have check it out.


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