Grayson Hunt is a git. A real arse of a man. Drunken and foul mouthed. He's the kind of guy that would willingly spend all night buying you beers, just so he could play hide the sausage with your missus while you're passed out. Leading a ragtag group of space pirates formed after he left a secretive government unit called "Dead Echo", he and his maurading pirate team stumble across their old commander in his gigantic battleship. Instead of fleeing, Gray has the fantastic idea of blowing his ship to kingdom come, which instead results in his ship and team crash landing on a nearby planet, leaving him with one broken ship, one half-dead team mate called Ishi, and a slight headache. After grabbing some power cells to do some cybernetic repair work to his friend, and finding an energy leash in the process, Gray learns that members of his old unit are on the same planet, and if he can reach them, he can get to an escape pod and get off planet. But nothing is ever that easy....
What I liked:
Firstly, I want to start the review by saying what Bulletstorm isn't. I thought that from the preview videos and news on the game it was going to be a whole lot more of a Serious Sam, comedy-style game. Now don't get me wrong, it's a funny game....hilarious in places, but the tone of the game is actually fairly serious, something that I didn't get at all from pre-release news on the game. Not saying it's all "Call of duty" serious or anything like that, it's just that it does have a well strung together, actually very interesting plot. This is helped by the characters. Grey, who looks like Hugh Jackman at a Gear of War cosplay party, is such an absolute dick it's extremely hard not to love him. Growling, moaning and swearing at almost anything that moves, his constant chatter and interaction with other characters, the torrent of foul language coming out of his mouth is akin to Peter Capaldi in the thick of it. And the swearing....oh, the swearing. There are such vivid combinations of swear words you can only think that they came up with them by sticking every swear word known to man in a hat, picking them out and putting them together to form the colourful stuff that literally seeps out of every conversation.....Dicktits is one of the milder ones in the game. Ishi, your companion, is another great character. Injured almost as soon as the game begins, he's reconstructed with bionic parts, and an interesting part of the story is that he has a constant battle within himself, as he has to fight for the chip taking over what's left of his human side. Gameplay is fast, frenetic and balls out amazing. The game is set up for as much experimentation as you can imagine. You can just play like a traditional shooter, but that's missing the point. It's skillshots where the game is at. It takes a while to get used to, and the system is helped by a handy menu, giving you lists of skillshots to do with each weapon, some fairly easy, some finger-bustingly hard. But the results are brilliant. Slinging people around with the leash, booting them off onto a nearby spiky cactus, shooting them with drill bits so they impale into walls, still spinning with the action of the drill, ripping helmets off mini-bosses and then booting their head off, sniping them with radio controlled bullets, it's literally a playground, admittedly an extremely violent one. Levels are varied, with on rails scenes which see you on the back of trucks, blowing away others while being pursued by what looks like a wheel that's loosened itself from Gods bike....it's fucking massive. The game literally never lets up. The sound is great, level design, if a little linear, is also almost perfect. You can walk into an area and immediately you see opportunities all over the place to cause untold amounts of suffering to anyone that comes in your way. Weapons deliver, and you have never had weapons that feel so good than you do in this game....I never....EVER want to use a shotgun in a game again unless it's as powerful as the one in Bulletstorm......press the trigger and blam...the top half of the enemy is gone! Boss battles are great, if a little formulaic, and on the whole I cannot recommend the game enough. I haven't even tried the online modes, but from what it looks like take the 4-player "horde" format from Gears, mix it with Bulletstorm and instead of going for kills, you go for points. Even without this mode you really should play this game.
What I loathed:
Hardly anything. Graphically it's great, although a little rough around the edges. Some of the characters faces, Ishi in particular, aren't really up to scratch. A few times in the game you'll die through no real fault of your own, as in certain levels you'll get a countdown timer to escape a certain situation and it's not entirely clear where you have to go. You'll either do it first time or spend a couple of goes running into dead ends and failing. Almost all of the weapons are amazing, except for the fuck-balling Sniper rifle. When you shoot a bullet it flys in slo-mo towards your target, and every single fucking time, when it gets near your target tries to dodge it. You have an aftertouch effect, so you can curve your bullet into the bad guy....but come on....dodge every single time? Can't I just blow someones head off without them seeing me? Admittedly, later on you get an explosive bullet that can blow them up if they are anywhere near the bullet, but all the enemy dodging just put me off using the usless bloody thing!
Bulletstorm has come out of nowhere and completely took me by surprise. It's fun, loud, the characters are great, it's surprisingly very well put together story-wise and the skillshot system is a work of borderline genius. I have a few niggles about the game, but it's nothing that breaks it. Bulletstorm is a shot in the arm for first person shooters, and it's one of the greatest new IP's in years. If you have any love for first person shooters and gaming in general, seek out this game at your nearest convenience!Rating: 9/10
(Xbox 360 version reviewed. Also available on PS3/PC)