Six Years Later, ‘Bulletstorm’ Returns To Remind Us Gaming Can Be Fun

When it came out six years ago, Bulletstorm became a case study in marketing and its pitfalls. According to the ads, it was little more than Gears Of War with a gimmick and a snarky attitude towards Call Of Duty. Even great reviews, and the fact that the game was from People Can Fly, the team behind the beloved cult hit Painkiller, couldn’t sell it. Which was a shame at the time, and something Gearbox is hoping to correct with Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition.

The plot is conventional fare; Grayson Hunt, leader of Dead Echo, is out for revenge and redemption against the general who tricked him and his squad into assassinating innocent civilians. In a drunken rage, with most of his team dead, he rams his ship through the Ulysses and crash-lands on an abandoned resort planet in the process of being ripped apart by mutants, convicts, and the evil flora and fauna.

The game, however, is anything but conventional. In fact, the title is ironic because if you’re playing it right, there isn’t a storm of bullets. While you have the usual complement of firearms, from the standard carbine, revolver, and shotgun to more outré devices like a rocket-launcher/drill weapon and a bolo-firing grenade launcher, the real game involves a “leash,” a futuristic lasso that yanks enemies out of cover, and your foot. To buy ammo, you need points. To get points, you need to kill your enemies with style. In fact, playing the game like a conventional shooter is a good way to run out of ammo, as enemies start the game able to absorb a lot of bullets and soon become practically bulletproof.

So instead you kick them off ledges, yank them into spikes, feed them to carnivorous plants, punt exploding barrels into their midst, boot them into power lines, fire them out of airlocks… the list goes on and on and the game has 131 unique ways to offer enemies a splatstick death. Every area is filled with environmental hazards you have to spot and use in creative ways, helped substantially by your ability to slide kick into anybody and send them flying.

And, surprisingly, the story remains one of the best parts of the game. Popular comics writer Rick Remender, and People Can Fly, run all the worst parts of gaming at the time through a shredder. The villain is a sendup of the worst kind of guy you find in the multiplayer lobby, a potty-mouthed coward who whines endlessly about how big his peepee is. It spoofs the ending of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare. Even the graphics take aim at tropes, replacing the relentless smears of brown and grey with beautiful tropic scenery and bright vivid colors.

Speaking of which, this remaster looks and sounds quite good. While it’s not a huge jump in graphics and sound quality, things have improved quite a bit overall and the game has never looked better. There are one or two extras here that are basically disposable, like the presence of Duke Nukem, but by and large, the real selling point here is the overall gameplay, which remains unique.

It’s not perfect, mind you; the game is just long enough to be fun, at roughly eight hours in single-player, and just short enough to keep it from running completely out of ideas, but it gets perilously close. And there are still some bits that don’t quite fit; this is the last game that should have a sniper rifle, and I say this as a dedicated sniping dirtbag. But, six years later, Bulletstorm remains a unique game that if you didn’t give it a shot at the time, deserves a second look.

Verdict: Clear Your Calendar

This review was conducted with a review copy provided by the publisher.