One of my favorite guilty pleasure movies of the last ten years or so was the ridiculously over-the-top action film Shoot ‘Em Up. There’s something about Clive Owen shoving a carrot through a guy’s eye and saying “What’s up, Doc?” that works specifically on my strange pleasure principle. I’ve never really played a video game that fed so particularly on that strange combination of stylistic and exaggerated violence while framing all of the violence in equally ridiculous humor. Well, Bulletstorm has finally bridged that gap. With gameplay focused entirely on rewarding the player for killing his enemies in the most creative and destructive ways possible, Bulletstorm takes you on a hyper-violent and often hilarious thrill ride that is marred by an ending that drags on and gameplay that I could only handle in small chunks (although that’s how I am with most shooters).
In Bulletstorm, you play as space mercenary, Grayson Hunt, who has crash-landed on an alien planet after suicide-bombing your small scouting ship into the massive dreadnought of the former commander of your special ops military unit that betrayed you years ago. With the help of your bionic partner, you battle your way through thousands of human thugs, alien barbarians, and mutant abominations as you try and hitch a ride off the planet before time runs out. You get a ridiculously over the top tale of revenge and possible redemption as you carve your bloody path through the population of the planet Stygia, full of some moments (one in particular stands out as particularly amazing) that are among the most awesome in recent gaming history.
I’m not saying anything too controversial when I state that the first-person shooter market has become really crowded ever since the enormous success of the Halo and Call of Duty franchises. If you want your game to stand out, you have to do something memorable, and Bulletstorm has memorability in spades. The game makes use of an innovative skillshot system which serves as the games way of scoring your play as well as the game’s currency for purchasing ammo and weapon upgrades. The game rewards you for killing your enemies in unique and diverse ways through a creative exploitation of the game’s wide arsenal of weapons and your slide, kick, and leash abilities. Some specific skillshots include leashing your enemies into spikes, kicking them into the mouths of man-eating flytraps, shooting an enemy in the nuts and then blowing his head off, and killing enemies while wasted on alcohol among dozens and dozens of kills you can be rewarded for. The thrill of pulling off a difficult skillshot is pretty hard to describe.
The game doesn’t have a spectacular story but it was pretty funny on a regular basis, and the dialogue was so obscene in that intentionally too much sense that I couldn’t help but laugh at a lot of the obscenities they made up for the game. The story had some really awesome set pieces though that will stick with me long after I finished the game though for their sheer ridiculousness. It left you with a pretty good hook for the sequel that will inevitably be made if this game sold enough copies. My only real problem with the story is that you eventually stop getting new weapons and abilities and the thrill of discovering new powers and skills disappears when you just have to slog your way through waves of enemies and the game starts to feel like more of a traditional shooter.
If you like FPS’s then you should easily check this one out. It’s more of a rental for me than an actual purchase but I had a great time with it. I can only play shooters for so long at a time so this wasn’t the kind of game that I would find myself getting completely lost in, but that’s my particular tastes in games and not necessarily a criticism of Bulletstorm. If you aren’t a fan of FPS’s, you might still want to give this game a rent because you might appreciate the ultra-violence present throughout the whole product and its unique sense of humor. All in all, I’m definitely glad that this was near the top of my Gamefly queue and I took a memorable trip into the chaos and destruction of Stygia.
Final Score: B+