With fast-paced action and tongue-in-cheek humour, Bulletstorm is the perfect antidote for anyone bored with the glut of “present-day-conflict” first-person shooters currently flooding the market.
Players control Grayson Hunt, a gun-for-hire turned space pirate who was double-crossed by his commanding officer. After botching an ill-advised revenge attack, Hunt and his one surviving crew member crash-land on a remote planet overrun with criminals, mutants and man-eating plants. Escaping requires determination, skill and most importantly, big guns.
Every weapon in Bulletstorm’s over-the-top arsenal offers a unique twist on traditional FPS firearms. The flail gun fires two grenades strung together by a chain which can wrap around enemies, bullets fired from the sniper rifle can be steered mid-flight and even the shotgun doubles your fun with four barrels instead of the usual two. Alternate fire modes on each weapon can turn the simplest guns into tools of destruction; the assault rifle can be charged up to fire 100 bullets in a single shot and the revolver can shoot explosive flares that send enemies flying into the sky. Melee attacks are equally OTT; a gravity-defying energy leash can send enemies skyward in slow-motion, ready for a sliding tackle or kick to the face.
There’s a good reason for such variety; your performance is graded by the Skill Shot system, which rewards creative carnage with points that can be redeemed for ammunition and weapon upgrades. Resourceful players can use the scenery as well as their weapons to chain attacks together for bonus points. There are hundreds of different skill shots to unlock, each with its own name and points value. Hunt will often chime in when scoring a particularly high combo: most of his outbursts aren’t fit for print, but they’re as entertaining as they are childish.
We completed the single-player campaign in less than six hours, but the Echoes mode kept us playing for much longer. It breaks down levels from the main game into smaller sections that are attempted against the clock. However, instead of trying to complete each one in the shortest time, players must rack up the highest number of points possible to beat their high score. Finding the perfect run through a stage can get very addictive, as there’s always a different weapon to use or skill shot combination that could be done differently.
Unusually for a current-generation FPS, there isn’t a traditional online multiplayer. Instead, a cooperative Anarchy mode puts you and up to three friends against progressively harder waves of enemies. As well as fighting individually, players can group up to perform team skill shots for score multipliers. Many combinations aren’t possible when playing alone, so you’ll need to work together if you want to make an impression on the global leader board.
It definitely isn’t a thinking man’s shooter, but Bulletstorm is still an absolute blast. A foul-mouthed boot to the face of other FPS games, it’s an over-the-top thrill ride from start to finish. The lack of a competitive multiplayer option isn’t a huge problem, as Echoes mode is more than enough to keep players coming back for more.