Every once in a while and this happens rarely, somebody makes a purely game for ME. It's an usual thing to mention at the beginning of an review, but Bulletstorm from the ground up, feels like a game that was just purely made for me with my love of being outnumbered in arenas, crazy weapons, combos and points. You'll have to bear with me on this review, because I may mention some obscure titles to compare, the genius, that is; Bulletstorm.
First of all, I'm going to cover some names of games; Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Rise of The Triad, Serious Sam, Painkiller, Nitro Family, Will Rock, Madworld and finally Wild 9. What was that list you ask? That list was to tell fans of those series, that if they love those games, they will utterly love Bulletstorm.
Bulletstorm is ANYTHING BUT a generic shooter. If anything, it's a very innovative shooter, because it does so many modern and classic conventions of First Person Shooter games, completely different than you'd expect. The game is not simply about killing the enemy. To play this game like Call of Duty or even Serious Sam, is totally defeating the object and in fact, making the game more difficult for you.
Basically, after the first 15 minutes or so of gameplay, you are basically encouraged to kill as creatively as possible. How do you do that you ask? With 3 guns at at time you can swap around, once you find and unlock them, with purchasable upgrades and secondary features, an anti-gravity leash which pulls and flips people through the air directly towards your screen or hit the floor with a sonic boom causing slo-mo to kick in, the old trusty kick in the face with a military boot Duke Nukem style or a kick slide to the ankle, plus the environment. The idea of the game is to gain 'points' for killing using combinations of these types of attack and the world around you to earn 'skillshots' which are particular moves and fatalities which can involve a lone enemy to a large group of them.
The skillshots can probably be seen as meta-achievements within the game, but it's so much more deeper than that, kill more creatively, earn more points. Kill with Skill, if you don't, it'll be harder to upgrade that measly weapon and keep ammo launching from that gun, simply, you're going to make the game very hard for yourself just by simple kills. So you just got used to an enemies weaknesses, the rest of the game is going to be a breeze and repetitive slaughtering right? WRONG. Throughout the game, you're introduced to further mutated enemies, some that are near impossible to grab hold with the leash from a distance unless you find a way to stop them moving, some that just won't die until you utterly destroy them, some that charge at you and self destruct, some that will literally soak up your ammo and then it becomes varied with all these enemies mixed together, that's when it gets tricky or involves some strategical, artistic killing. Don't worry though, you have recharging heath, are able to run and can decide to duck behind cover, although there's no 'snapping to cover' mechanics. You have to crouch yourself.
Notice I haven't mentioned the plot yet? Because whilst the game does have a plot, it's just the rails for the rollercoaster that you'll find the game to be. That's not to say that the plot is rubbish. You will laugh, you will become curious about people's characters and developments, you will wonder how this whole mess happened seeing the beauty of the planet, you'll wonder how our gruff space outlaw Grayson survived that after blacking out, you'll witness a fight for identity, somehow, you will even learn to love to hate characters onscreen that have no redeeming qualities to even be considered as part of the empathic human race. If I said anymore, it'll simply ruin the ride that is Bulletstorm.
The Graphics of Bulletstorm just show how much the Unreal Engine has really developed over the years and the environment and lighting look brilliant in part to People Can Fly's excellent architecture on the once leisure, tourist resort planet of Stygia. The nearest comparison to I can come up with is the gleaming Metropolis in Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction. There's half destroyed skyscrapers everywhere, large paths with small patches of plants and fountains between them. It's by far, the most colourful, vibrant FPS for years and the colour scheme is exactly the opposite of Epic's personally developed inhouse Gears of War series. It's generally a very impressive looking game and it's impressive how much can happen on screen without a single noticable drop of framerate.
The soundtrack, however, except the excellent voice cast is really nothing of note. At the end of the game, you won't remember Bulletstorm even having a theme or a musical motif throughout the game and this is probably a downside to such a fun game with everything else seeming so individual from other games on the market, but you'll probably remember the symphony of weapons, projectiles, explosions and crass, below the belt humour that the characters deliver and will undoubtedly be the staple of Bulletstorm as a franchise.
Finally, I feel I have to mention there's a sniper rifle which has a secondary function to remote control, fly around and detonate a dying man's body. That's People Can Fly's 'gun that fires shurikens and lightning' this time around. Roll on Duke Nukem Forever, Serious Sam 3 and Bodycount for the rest of this Arcade FPS renaissance. Don't be surprised if this game is fondly remembered better than Gears of War 3 by the end of 2011.