Originally released in 2011, Bulletstorm stood out quite a bit. Combining the basic footprint of the modern FPS with daily afternoon game shows, players were rewarded with killing in an almost artistic fashion. Luckily, Grayson not only excelled at it, but he had the ludicrous, and often, inappropriate humor to ride it through to the end. Fast forward 6 years under Gearbox Publishing, Bulletstorm has returned once again with updated graphics and new content to show that Grayson still has what it takes to take on the new console generation.
If you’ve played the original, the campaign hasn’t changed at all. It still follows Grayson and his band of ex-Black ops misfits on a quest of revenge towards their former Commander, Star General Sarrano. Stygia has received a decent upgrade this time around, though. A more dynamic lighting has been used to brighten up many of the dark corners of the map. A lot of the muddy textures have been cleaned up as well as many of the smaller details on both the main and enemy characters. I did notice the mouths still sometimes had trouble keeping up with the words though, making it look more like a typical international dubbing.
The biggest addition to single player that I’ve noticed is the presence of Duke Nukem though. He’s been bouncing in and out of the industry for over a decade now trying to find his place, and I think Bulletstorm is where its at. Unfortunately, he was really just kind of plugged into the story, without anything else being changed. All of the NPC dialogue remains the same, yet Graysons words have been replaced with the Dukes. Usually something along the lines of bubblegum, and kicking alien ass, although he has no idea how he ever got there. It’s kind of a cheap plug and play, but it still somehow finds a way to work as if he was a part of the game since its initial release. Most notably, it removes a lot of the unnecessary, usually outdated and sexist humor he’s usually associated with, yet it keeps him running full steam in every other way.
The Skillshot is something I haven’t seen in any other game. Players are rewarded for killing enemies in colorful, destructive ways. This usually lead me to look outside the box as I had to visually assess each area for points of interest well before I properly entered them. Strategically destroying your opponents was the only way to really succeed, rather than running and gunning like most shooting games tend to do. This resulted in everything from throwing them in electrical cables to throwing explosive hot dog stands at a group in the middle of a boating dock. One of my favorite moments was using the energy leash to throw a handful of enemies in the air. I then shot a flail gun round into the middle of them. Essentially, a grenade on an extended chain that would wrap around the enemy before exploding. It’s probably the only time you would want to be awarded points for the crudely named “gangbang”.
Once you’ve completed the campaign, you have access to the Overkill campaign, which allows you to start with all weaponry, abilities and skillshots, extending the playability as well as giving some a reason to go back and play as the other character. Outside of the campaign though, the Echo Maps return. These are small challenges taking place in segments throughout the campaign focusing on being scored for time, as well as your Skillshots. I didn’t spend too much time with this, but it was fun trying to overcome my friends scores, or trying to find ways to strategically eviscerate the enemy for the maximum score output. A few new maps have been added specifically to the Full Clip Edition as well as all of the original DLC returning as well. Anarchy, a co-operative multiplayer mode, allows up to four players to take on hordes of enemies as they attempt to reach a target score in order to reach the next round. They could then use these points achieved as a form of currency to upgrade both the character as well as any weapons they choose to take with them in to the next round.
Surprisingly, I found that Bulletstorm held up really well. The visual upgrades impressively bring it up to par with the current generation of games. A lot of the humor is extremely inappropriately, usually have something to do with genitalia, but I still found myself chuckling at some of the stupidest jokes. Its Grayson world overall, but I think Duke Nukem fits in as if it were his own to begin with. It’ll be interesting to see what Gearbox does with both him and Bulletstorm after this, assuming it receives the same appraisal it did during its initial release.
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