I’m not sure how it happened, but I own a copy of “Bulletstorm.” I went into Best Buy dead set on acquiring “Killzone 3,” and I can only assume that Cliffy B ambushed me with a handkerchief full of chloroform, dragged my unconscious body to the checkout, and demanded a copy of his game be given to “this pussy right here.”
Now ignoring the fact that I’m pressing assault charges for a moment, I have to grudgingly concede that ol’ Cliffy has proved his worth yet again. There are few games I’d like to hate more than “Bulletstorm.” I mean, a character actually uses the term “dick tits.” Let me just say that again: “dick tits.” The entire game is awash in this kind of blathering, adolescent machismo. And yet the core experience underneath is too strong to deny.
Let’s break down “Bulletstorm’s” principle strengths, as well as a few weaknesses.
-As I said, on a very basic level the game simply works. Developer People Can Fly, with help from Epic, really hit the sweet spot with their basic building blocks. They manage to balance the kinetic speed of “Painkiller” and “Serious Sam” with the weight and grit of “Gears of War.” The result is, you feel like you’re playing as the world’s fastest 250-lbs man, and it’s a surprisingly great feeling. Every sprint has weight, and the power-slides make you feel like a locomotive.
-The whole “kill with skill” thing is carried off pretty well. The tagging system uses color-coding brilliantly, you always know what you’ve just pulled off without even needing to think about it, and a handy codex of possible moves is always at your disposal. That said, there are some fights that don’t really go off the way PCF intended, because you just don’t have time to take everything in. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re missing the game experience you should be having, but then I suppose that’s why “Echoes” mode exists.
-Also in the positive column, the single-player campaign never lets go of the throttle, constantly throwing new spectacles at you without losing a sense of basic pacing. This is impeded somewhat by the bone-headed, irredeemably stupid writing I was talking about earlier, but at some point you have to agree to disagree and move on.
-Also, and this deserves its own bullet point, you sometimes come across random bottles of alcohol, which you can plow through until you’re plastered. The game then gives you a generous bonus for every bad guy you manage to kill through the impediment of beer goggles. Not only is it funny, it’s a surprisingly rewarding challenge.
-I think they missed an opportunity on multiplayer. They’ve go their own personal version of Horde mode, and that’s cool, but it feels like there was something more they could have done with this concept. I won’t call this a huge fault, because I’m glad they focused their energies on single player, but there had to be something else they could have accomplished here.
-The graphics have a serious pop-in problem, one of the worst I’ve ever seen in a game. When you have art design as gorgeous as this—and it really is incredible—it’s a shame for it to be hindered by constant blurriness. The game just has a soft feel in general, like someone needed to go through the damned thing with an ink pen and do some outlines.
Overall, hard as it is for me to admit, I’m enjoying the heck out of this game. I absolutely hate its boneheaded tone, but the action underneath overwhelms me and wins me over. God forgive me, “Bulletstorm” is a fun game.