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Bulletstorm (Video Game Review)

For a minute there, we were worried that Epic Games would be nothing more than the studio that headed up Gears of War. Not that there’s anything really wrong with that, but sometimes being limited to one franchise for so long can wear down on a team. (Just look what happened with Bungie and Halo.) Fortunately, the team does break out with the occasional side project, and this time around, it teamed up with People Can Fly for the hellaciously fun Bulletstorm. Seriously, this is just the kick in the pants the developer – and the genre in itself – needed. The game refuses to take itself too seriously, instead relying on an over-the-top storyline and utterly hilarious “bromance”-related dialogue to move things along. You play a drunken captain named Grayson hellbent on bringing down a corrupt army leader who’s been ordering his team to murder innocents. He manages to bring down the big dog’s ship, only to have it crash down on a nearby planet infested with plants and creeps. From there, all hell breaks loose, and it’s up to Grayson, his half-bionic cohort Ishi (who’s irritated that he’s been rebuilt with ship parts) and others to shut down the threat and get off the planet ASAP.

Two things make Bulletstorm stand apart from any other shooter. The first is the gameplay. Rather than just go with the usual run-and-gun tactics, People Can Fly’s game dares you to “kill with skill”. You’ll utilize a number of tools in your arsenal to finish off opponents, including kicking them into things in the environment (from exposed electrical cables to man-eating plants), slide kicking them into a bottomless ravine, shooting them with a variety of weapons (including the sniper rifle, which can fire curvable exploding bullets – awesome) and more. There’s literally dozens of Skillshots to unlock, all of which somehow tie into your abilities. Our favorite has to be the Leash, a cyber whip of sorts that grabs (most) enemies and flings them towards you, letting you do whatever you wish to them. Our runner-up, though, would have to be the Mechagodzilla wannabe. That can shoot lasers. Hell yes. Gameplay is very well done in Bulletstorm. There are some minor things concerning your fellow soldier AI, as they’re not as aggressive as you, but for the most part, this is a fun ride, with many unique ways to kill opponents. You can then trade in points to unlock new weapons and refill your ammunition, both of which will prove useful in the game’s later stages. Yep, enemies get bigger and badder.

The sections where you use a turret cannon are fast-paced, and one chase sequence, involving a spectacularly large Killwheel and a barrage of bikers and helicopters, is simply fantastic. You may never get enough of the single-player mode of the game, even though it ends too soon. Luckily, Bulletstorm has some other cool stuff. Echoes is a leaderboard-based competition where you try to score as many points as possible in sections. Sure, you’re stuck on your own, but there are opportunities aplenty to bump up your score. In addition, multiplayer is serviceable, even though it isn’t as deep as today’s other FPS offering for PlayStation 3, Killzone 3. You might want to give it a try, though. Last but not least is Anarchy Mode, a moderately enjoyable co-op supported mode where you can work together to create team kills. Nothing amazing, but it’s fun – as long as you’re paired up with folks that know what they’re doing. Bulletstorm looks absolutely magnificent on the Xbox 360 hardware. There are very mild coloring issues here and there, but otherwise, you can tell that People Can Fly learned a thing or two from Epic Games. The level design is truly inspiring, delving you into a chaotic world, both through indoor environments and outside.

The frame rate is smooth, and the zippy speed it runs when you’re sliding is absolutely nuts. The animation is pretty good too, though some character models are better than others. (Grayson looks like a Wolverine/Marcus combination.) As for the audio, it’s cool. The in-game music is fast-paced, the sound effects are sweet (especially with the Mechagodzilla clone) and the raunchy dialogue piles on the hilarious jokes. Just make sure you’re prepared for something adult-oriented. Seinfeld this ain’t. While Bulletstorm could’ve used a little more balancing in the multiplayer department and maybe some more coding work on the AI, it’s an overall fun ride that’s been well worth the wait. What you get out of the game specifically depends on what you put into your kills – be as sick as you want to be, and you’ll reap the rewards. Despite the short single player mode, this one is definitely worth coming back to. So get on it, dicktits - Bulletstorm is a winner.

Game Information:
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Reviewed for Xbox 360
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Score: 7 out of 10
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