In 2011, a zany first person shooter with a focus on getting crazy kills for points was released to the masses. While Bulletstorm was well received, the game ultimately didn’t sell that well. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition attempts to bring the game back into the public and give it another shot. Should you sign up for another tour, or is it not worth it?
You play as Grayson Hunt, a super angry alcoholic ex-marine who quit his job after finding out that his commander was using him to assassinate people who spoke out against him. Ten years later, Grayson and the rest of his team happen to run into his old general. When a suicide attack strands everyone on a planet full of mutants and gangs battling for survival, everyone sort of has to work together to get out alive.
I was surprised by how much fun I had with Bulletstorm‘s interesting plot. The game’s writing is not going to be for everyone, as it has a lot of characters trying to string together as many swear words and insults as possible, but there’s some good stuff in here. Watching the characters consider who’s worth trusting, who’s worth betraying, and a whole mess in-between actually leads to some creative drama. You’re constantly trying to figure out who’s actually going to stick around long enough to accomplish their personal agenda and who’s going to make an issue with the other survivors. It’s no high art, but this is a good storytelling for an action-focused game.
At first, Bulletstorm doesn’t play that differently from any other FPS. You’ll get a gun, you’ll get things to shoot, and you’ll hopefully feel good doing it. There’s a decent level of weapon variety with some creative firearms thrown into the mix, like a particularly hilarious grenade launcher that shoots explosive flails to tie enemies up. Each weapon also has a secondary firing mode to add to the joy. The Screamer revolver is already pretty strong on its own, but you get a real treat of a weapon when you add the ability to launch an explosive flare. The basic mechanics all work pretty well, but Bulletstorm‘s signature style is where it impresses the most.
Specifically, I’m talking about style points. As you play the game, you’ll be challenged to kill enemies in unique ways. You could just blow their head off with your machine gun, but where’s the style in that? Why not launch them into a cactus with an explosive? How about taking off the entire upper half of their body with a shotgun? Wouldn’t it be better if you did a sliding kick into their kneecaps to launch them into their friends just as they fire off their guns? The answer, of course, is yes. The more stylish the kill, the more points you’re awarded.
You have two important tools to assist you in your super-cool killing: your boot and your leash. The boot knocks any enemy away from you, while the leash pulls enemies towards you. These tools are important, as you can use them to help set up the skillshot of your dreams. They’re also useful because any enemy hit by the boot or leash gets stuck flying in slow motion for about five seconds, assisting you that much more with lining up shots exactly where you want them. These aren’t just made for enemies either, as you can fling around explosive items in the environment and position them for maximum carnage.
It really can not be understated just how much fun these moments are. Flinging enemies across levels and into traps always brought a smile to my face. Figuring out how to set up new and exciting skillshots was half of the fun, and each new weapon I got brought me a moment of first thinking “what does this do?” and then pondering “how can I use this for better skillshots?” Sure I’ve got a sniper now, but it’s less about “let’s go sniping” and more about “let’s use this sniper’s massive kickback to toss enemies into obstacles in new and creative ways.” It’s a unique feeling that I don’t think other FPSes have capitalized on nearly enough.
As great as this system is, there are also times when Bulletstorm goes against it completely. After a few levels, enemies that can dodge your leash and boot are introduced, making executing skillshots way more trouble than they’re worth. They don’t show up often enough to really ruin sections of the game, but I do wish they were left on the cutting room floor because they instantly turn this unique FPS combat systems into something painfully more generic. Other sections that don’t fit include a mess of turret segments that look cool, but have nothing to do with the central mechanic of skillshots and mostly end up as “hold the fire button to win.” One particularly frustrating segment sees you controlling a giant robot to shoot lasers at your enemies. In theory that sounds fantastic, but in practice, the robot is unwieldy, tends to wander off for no reason, and sometimes doesn’t even shoot when instructed. It’s a terrible segment that thankfully doesn’t last longer than twenty minutes.
As you rack up your score, you’ll be using it to purchase upgrades for your guns and leash. Unfortunately, outside of the secondary fire that I mentioned before, most of the upgrades are really just some form of upgraded ammo count for your guns. I wished that more firing modes and skillshot opportunities for the guns were available, as it makes the shops feel kind of bare. You still need to buy ammo from them, as you’re not likely to find enough from kills alone if you partake in the game’s more interesting mechanics, but that’s really about it.
On your super killing adventure, you’ll get to see some great locations and listen to some fantastic tracks along the way. Bulletstorm looks surprisingly good for a game of its vintage, with solid technical work carrying it. The art design is well done, with enemies looking both weird and massive when appropriate. The soundtrack fits the game well, making use of all the expected tracks to help pump you up and keep you in the moment. Bulletstorm also hosts some really great voicework, and each actor appears to be having an absolutely fantastic time just saying the most absurd lines.
Once you finish the game (which should take about eight hours), you have a few other modes to mess around in. Overkill mode is basically a New Game+ that gives you access to all the weapons right from the start and allows you to get unlimited ammo by performing enough skillshots. It’s a fun mode, but I couldn’t help but shake that it was just the campaign again. The other mode is Echos, which takes slices of levels for you to complete while trying to score as many points as possible. You’ll be scored on your skill with a star rating and you’ll unlock more Echos with more stars. Similar to Overkill mode, I had a tough time ridding myself of the feeling that I was just replaying the game, only this time with more of a focus on points. High score chasers may find something really interesting here, but outside of that, it’s tough to see Echos providing much replayability.
New to the Full Clip Edition is Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour. In this strange mode, you play as Duke Nukem instead of Grayson. Duke is voiced by John St John, but none of the other characters have had their lines rerecorded. There’s a lot of Duke complaining about how his name is Duke and not Gray, awkward lines made to fit a scene while trying to stick with Duke’s character, and it’s not exactly a great bonus overall. There are some really funny lines (at one early point, Duke just turns to a character and goes “who are you?” in such a great way) but I can’t shake the feeling of this addition being an afterthought bonus for the sake of having a bonus. If you already got Bulletstorm memorized then this weird mode may be a fun twist, but it’s not worth the new asking price if you’ve still got the original game.
Bulletstorm also has a multiplayer mode that is similar to a four player co-op horde mode. Unlike usual horde modes, your goal isn’t just to kill all the enemies, but also to earn enough skill points each round. You can get access to some new skillshots that can only be performed by several people (like ripping an enemy in half with two leashes) and these are pretty cool. Sadly, the mode itself lacks the oomph of the campaign. Getting access to better gear takes too long, and it’s just not as much fun as the curated situations available elsewhere. Maybe a round or two could bring some enjoyment, but it’s not going to hold you for much longer than that.
If you’ve never played Bulletstorm before then you should highly consider grabbing Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition and giving it a shot. It has some unique ideas I haven’t seen in many other FPSes and can still stand toe-to-toe with the best shooters available today. If you already own Bulletstorm, then there’s not much new in this rerelease to tempt you again, unless you’re a massive fan of Duke Nukem. Still, it’s hard to deny that this is some of the most fun I’ve had in an FPS in a while.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition has a solid eight-hour campaign that is still one of the best offered in an FPS even five years later. Sadly, the other modes don't hold up very well and the new Duke Nukem stuff is ultimately a bust. Still, if you haven't played Bulletstorm, this is a great opportunity to do so.
- Story is Interesting, Has Great Voice Acting
- Skillshot System is Fantastic
- Campaign is Mostly Great
- Looks Pretty, Good Soundtrack
- Duke Nukem Campaign is a Letdown
- Multiplayer is Boring
- Campaign Hits a Few Low Notes
- Little Replay Value