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Bulletstorm is a game I’ve been looking forward for as long as someone can possibly look forward to kicking a decapitated bad guy into a pool of piranhas- let’s just call it a long time- and it certainly doesn’t disappoint..
You play as Grayson Hunt, an alcoholic, smartass Wolverine lookalike (and soundalike, as he’s voiced by frequent Wolvie voice actor Steve Blum) in charge of a band of government sanctioned mercs, who finds out their missions haven’t been quite as righteous as they’d thought. When an impromptu revenge attack doesn’t go quite as well as planned, Grayson is stranded on a gorgeous planet infested with tribal gangs, mutants, and peril at every turn… oh, and the foul-mouthed General (think R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket) that had been pulling his team’s strings.
Now equipped with a hookshot-like energy leash found in the wreckage, Grayson gets access to equipment drop pods, which allow you to use points earned through skill shots to resupply and upgrade weapons. The skill shots really are the bread and butter of this game. Combining the leash, slide attacks, and kicks with the assortment of weapons and environmental elements nets you big points. Kick a guy into a cactus, kill a bunch of baddies with an exploding hot dog cart, or cut a mutant in half with the flail gun’s chained grenades. It’s all good. The first-person shooter gameplay is everything you’ve come to expect from Epic Games, with a more fluid feel that relies less on cover and more on creating as much wanton destruction as humanly possible.
The weapon selection is somewhat limited, but each has an alternate charged fire setting that mixes up things a little, and there is really no shortage of violent devastation. You start out with the Peacemaker Carbine- your standard assault rifle- and pick up a revolver, a quad-barreled shotgun, the aforementioned flail gun, a very circus-like bouncing bomb launcher, a drill gun, and the greatest sniper rifle I have ever fired in a video game, along with the occasional mini-gun. There’s one additional “weapon” I won’t mention because the sheer thrill of discovering it in-game is not to be spoiled.
Beyond the single player campaign, which clocks in at around 8 hours, there are the Echoes missions, which allow you to replay certain sections of the game, with the goal of gaining maximum skillshot points in an allotted time. The multiplayer Anarchy mode is basically Gears’ Horde mode, pitting you and your teammates against an onslaught of enemies, with a set number of skill points required to proceed, forcing you to work with your teammates to pull off team skillshots. Unfortunately, these don’t really add much to the replay value of the game, and if you pick up the game used, you’ll have to pay for an online pass to access the multiplayer. You’ll also need the online pass to play the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta, accessible through the game and set to launch in mid-April.
Overall, Bulletstorm looks great, the controls are sharp, the gameplay is ridiculously fun and inventive, and the dialogue is crass and over-the-top. It’s really just a refreshingly stylish first-person shooter. On the downside, the single player campaign is relatively short and the multiplayer is minimal, making for limited replay value. It’s really not $60 worth of game, but the single player campaign is a hell of a lot of fun while it lasts.