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Bulletstorm Review (360)

*Warning: not for the easily offended! This review is written in the language of Bulletstorm*

So you want to read a Bulletstorm review all this time after its released do ya? Well you son of a dick, this game is full of so many angry redknecks and cus words you’d think you were watching that speech from Full Metal Jacket on re-peat. This review is gonna be short and to the point, like your sushi-dick. What’s that? This review is late? Well shut your trap or I WILL kill your dicks.

There’s a lot of balls out awesomeness to Bulletstorm. There’s also a lot of dialogue so bad you’ll want to tear off your scrotum and make it into a balaclava. I’m sure most of you will have played it by now, but for those that haven’t you need to prepare yourself by ripping off your ears or stuffing them with some sound-absorbing material of some sort. Possibly dicks. Only by focusing on the fun of the basic gameplay and ignoring the loathsome characters and the so-bad-its-really-bad dialogue can you enjoy the game.

From the opening minutes it’s made clear that the protagonists of the game will be hard to like. You’re introduced to a bunch of shipmates who quickly die off and soon after you are left with just one preachy, annoying teammate to accompany you throughout the game. Your promise to save him is a clumsy plot devise intended to illustrate the redemptive tone of the game, but you never feel much like a hero. The high point of characterisation in the game is the antagonist Sarrano, a crazed military general who probably spends most of his time tormenting Private Piles when he’s not saying the word “Dick”. He’s presented in such an over the top manner that he’s hard to dislike and in comparison to the gruff, surly and un-amusing attitude of your main character, your sympathies don’t necessarily lie with the heroes of the game.

The singleplayer campaign is short and fun and the world it presents is a wonder to explore. Paced well with some genuinely stunning set pieces, it’s a glorious weekends gaming. Towards the end it tends to drag though as you tire of being in the company of such repellent characters and the repeated false endings elicit groans rather than excitement. Worst of all, the ending is awful leaving the game wide open for a sequel and offering no satisfactory conclusion whatsoever.

The reason that the story and characters are so disagreeable is the lack of humour present throughout. Lurching wildly from poe-faced seriousness to infantile dick jokes, the tone is all over the place. All of this would be forgivable if the game was funny, but unless you’re a twelve year old boy that thinks the words “dick” and “fuck” are the ultimate comedic punch lines to every joke then you’re out of luck. If the game does provide laughs, it’s in the ridiculous environmental deaths you can inflict on your enemies.

Once you distance yourself from the narrative of Bulletstorm and redefine it as a huge, kinetic, explosive playground you realise the strengths of the game. Different weapons interact with your laser-leash and kick and slide abilities to produce numerous different effects. Simply shooting an enemy in the head is great, but shooting him in the crotch, kicking him into the air in slow motion followed then shooting a drill into his chest to pin him to a wall like a spinning Catherine wheel is better. Each of these different types of deaths have different names and points values and collecting them all quickly becomes a game in itself.

The feel of the game is perfectly balanced. Movement is fast and responsive and the weapons feel satisfying. It’s no surprise that the gunplay feels so polished and gratifying; People Can Fly’s last game was the equally enjoyable Painkiller.

It’s not just the weapons that make the game feel good. There are lots of little decisions that contribute to the feel of the game. You can slide ridiculous distances. When running you don’t get tired and slow down. Kicking or leashing enemies puts them into slow motion. All of these little touches contribute to the ridiculous grin you end up wearing as you play, at least until someone starts talking again.

Weapon upgrades come fast and it’s easy to have all weapons fully upgraded, especially if you are getting bonus points for creative kills. During less frenetic battles you tend to find yourself lining up creative kills rather than actually shooting enemies. These parts reminded me of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, where you spent most of your time kicking enemies off cliffs or dropping barrels on their heads.

Even in the combat there’s a few problems though. I found it hard to tell where enemies were attacking from and often turned around to see an enemy who had been stabbing me in the back of the head. Your allies get in the way in some sections and contribute very little in combat and seeing as they’re such terrible characters anyway, you wish you were on your own most of the time. As you struggle with these minor issues the storyline brings up simple puzzles which add little to the game and only ever have one very simple solution.

Once the main game is finished there’s some incentive to go back and find hidden objects or collect all of the deaths, but it’s unlikely this will pull many players back in. The multiplayer meanwhile held no appeal for me with its core points based ethos working poorly with random teammates online. It’s something different, but I can’t imagine there will be many people to play within a few months.

The one remaining thing to say about Bulletstorm is that it is drop dead gorgeous. It’s rare to see a 360 or PS3 game that’s so stunning looking. While most sci-fi shooters go for the gritty or (let’s be honest) brown version of the future, Bulletstorm is not afraid to show colourful, gorgeous vistas full of plants, streams and sunlight bursting through canopies. When it’s not tranquil and beautiful, its frantic and engrossing with enemies larger than spaceships stomping on buildings and giant cities falling apart or exploding. Bulletstorm is not short of spectacle.

So just to sum up *ahem*. Bullestorm is no Son of a Dick. Some scenes were so impressive they scared the dick off me. If you criticize the basic gameplay I WILL kill your dick. But enough talk of dick killing. This is a game that’s over faster than an assplosion. You’ll love it, but probably won’t play through it again unless it gave you a real murder-boner. Even then, it’s over in about six hours and it’s easier to beat than pussy-zilla. While the game may be sweeter than teenage poontang, we’ll need to wait for a sequel and hope for a story with less dick tits as characters. Until then, Bulletstorm will be a remembered as a very good game, but not a great one. *sorry*

8 dicks (obviously) out of 10

Published inReviews