I could shoot him in the balls with the fire-shotgun, severing the legs of the jerk behind him. I could thump that chump into the air and grenade-tether him towards that enormous fan. I could slide into the whole crowd, knocking them into the allegiance-shattering toxic plant dust and watch them mutilate each other as I sit idly by, sipping on a cool pop. Bulletstorm, by People Can Fly and Epic Games, presents all these options and a million more in a game that is amongst the most insane, over-the-top, and unforgettable shooters I have ever played.
I haven’t owned a “gaming PC” since I put Morrowind back up on the shelf in the yesteryear that was high school. For the most part, I have found no reason to miss having a gaming computer. I have always kept up to date with my home console and portable gaming. Not many elements of PC gaming appeal to me, mostly because I clam up and run away screaming whenever I see anything resembling the term “tech requirements.” But every so often, say…once a year, something comes along that makes me weak at the knees in regards to PC gaming. That “something,” as I so eloquently worded it, is the Steam Sale. I long for a time when I can, with one or two clicks and keystrokes, waste away months of paychecks on games I’ll look at the titles of and think, “Huh, I should get around to playing that someday.” The Steam Sale is the Golden Ticket of the gaming community, ushering in a time of pure, chocolate-covered bliss in the shape of comatose Augustus Gloops and even the oft-necessary Oompa-Loompa interlude. To outsiders, these may seem like infantile digressions, but I must be honest. It’s absolutely true. The unadulterated glee that Steam Sale customers experience is unmatched in the giant consumer hub that is the downloadable gaming market.
The closest we silly console gamers get to the Steam Sale is the occasional one-off sales on Xbox Live and the Playstation Store. It is from a recent Xbox Live sale the I acquired Bulletstorm for the extremely reasonable asking price of five US dollars. I mostly picked the game up because I wanted something “mindless” to play as I attempted to bring back my gaming mind to a happy place after the Debby-downers (but still Ellie-excellents) that were Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us. The final word I needed to hear before completing this purchase was Jeff, a fellow NW Gamer, telling me that Bulletstorm was “everything Duke Nukem Forever should’ve been.” SOLD.
Bulletstorm feels a lot like Gears of War in its setup and execution. Bro-dudes being bro-dudey (check). Ultra-violent finishing moves and accompanying cheers from said bro-dudes (check). Enormous set-pieces and boss battles (check). Roadie-run mapped to the A-button (check). I have probably spent more time in the Gears series than any other whole series this entire console generation. So when I say that a game plays a lot like Gears, please read that as only the utmost of compliments. Bulletstorm obviously diverges from this pattern in its viewing angle (FPS as opposed to Gears’ 3rd Person….3PS?). But so much of Bulletstorm feels like another take on the Gears formula from a different angle or, rather, seen through a different set of eyes. The fact that Epic produced the game and worked very closely with People Can Fly only solidifies these clear parallels.
Bulletstorm’s main campaign was fairly standard in length (6-8 hours), but those hours were jam-packed with epic boss battles, crazy weapons to upgrade, and plenty of potty humor laughs that will leave most players either gasping for air or rolling their eyes. The story follows Grayson Hunt with his cyborg pal Ishi as they crash-land and try to escape the hostile planet Stygia. They kill a bunch of people with a bunch of guns. They kick ass. The end. Bulletstorm’s story isn’t bad or anything, it’s just NOT the reason you should be attracted to this game. The game bolsters an incredibly addicting scoring system in the form of “Skillshots” that takes full advantage of Stygia’s unique environments and also the plethora of weapons at Grayson’s disposal. These Skillshots give you points depending on the uniqueness and severity of the kills you perform. Throw a guy into some barbed wire? Have some points. Kill two punks with one bullet? Here’s more points. Shoot a guy in the nuts? You get lots of points! These points can be used to purchase ammo or to upgrade the guns into true weapons of mass destruction. By the end of the game, you will feel like a total badass.
I loved Bulletstorm. I only paid five bucks for it but, in hindsight, I could see myself paying full price for this at launch had I known more about it at the time (that time being February 22, 2011). I had a blast playing through the campaign, and I can’t wait to play through it again somewhere down the line. That being said, I believe that there are a few caveats to consider with this game. First of all, it isn’t shy about anything. If poop jokes, dick jokes, butthole jokes, racist jokes, or all of the above bother you, STAY AWAY from this game. It’s also pretty violent, but not in a realistic, shoot civilians in an airport in a fricking videogame kinda way violent. (Cough, cough).
As cliché as it may be to use this metaphor, in Bulletstorm, the world is your oyster. Except, unlike the stupid regular oysters to which the metaphor refers, you are not opening the oyster in hopes of getting a pearl. In Bulletstorm, you open an oyster and get 37 enemies running out you, 3 crazy unique weapons in hand, spikes and traps and poisonous gas everywhere, and more dick jokes than you can shake a….well, let’s play into this a bit here just for funsies, shall we? More dick jokes than you can shake a dick at. Bulletstorm is what we get if Gears of War, Resistance, and Duke Nukem had a threesome-conceived love child. It is zany. It is violent. It is crass. And it is a hell of a lot of fun. If you can pick it up on the cheap, I would most certainly recommend it. Keep an eye on all those sales! And to all you PC gamers out there, enjoy the Steam Sale in my stead.
Thanks for reading.