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I don't need to explain why Bulletstorm is great. You'll know if you've seen the advert, or if someone's recently backed you into an awkward corner of conversation and brandished it at you aggressively wailing about skillshots or shooting people into the sky with fireworks. It doesn't really matter though, because I'm going to anyway. So sit down and be quiet. Good.
Bulletstorm is a twisted invention clearly first conceived in some dream-like manly utopian world populated entirely by Chuck Norris and the Gunnery Sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. If you thought Gears of War or Killzone must have had testosterone literally punched into the game at every stage of development, you AIN'T SEEN NUTHIN' YET.
Grayson Hunt, the game's main protagonist, who's about as likeable as a T4 presenter and almost as articulate, and his gang of incredibly lucid and gentlemanly Space Pirates attempt to take out their former, corrupt (and brilliant) General Sarrano, by kamikazing straight into his Space Mansion. The problem is said Super Space Cruiser is several thousand times larger than Hunt's puny attacking thumbnail of a ship, and so it should have had as much effect as dribbling at a house fire.
That said they somehow manage to bring it down and the pair crash-land on planet Stygia, a delightful destination full of apocalyptically ruined architecture and crumbling cityscapes, populated by cantering, screaming insane idiots in masks. Or in simpler terms, a Potins Holiday. It is then your job to systematically eradicate the population of Stygia in the most inventive way possible, locate General Tossrag and beat seven shades of shinola out of him. Oh, and your sole surviving pirate friend is now half-robot. Simple eh.
Whilst every character in this game is clearly seven notes short of a tune, perhaps none more so than General Sarrano himself, whose main personality trait is hilariously inventive, made up swear words. It's certainly more than a little odd having a treacherous, war-hardened, potty-mouthed teenager as an arch nemesis. That said, Sarrano's variety and succinct ability to form a slur of obscenities out of ordinary phrases such as, ‘I say, would you perhaps wish to accompany me on an evening stroll' is nothing short of genius. Certainly along with Hunt's eloquent dialogue, including such rich and versatile reflections as *‘You scared the dick off me'.
Whilst, so far, this all probably sounds as appealing as licking a used dishcloth, it's worth noting that somehow Bulletstorm actually manages to pull it off. Sure, all the characters are straight from the Vin Diesel school of How To Be A Snivelling Cock, but the game knows that. And as such, doesn't take itself even an ounce seriously. Not even once. It continually parodies its own acute ridiculousness. I think. Epic created Bulletstorm fully aware of it being an overblown train wreck ride, and purposefully made it as outrageous and ridiculous as possible. And it's all the better for it.
The gameplay revolves around ‘Skillshots', which basically means the game gives you points depending on how inventively you can turn your Joey Jordison look-alike foes into something you'd feed to your cat. Some of these are inspired, most of the time you won't even realize what you've done before the screen is scattered with points markers and there are little bits of leg stuck to the walls. A time-altering leash with which you can whip your enemies close before diluting their innards with some unfathomable piece of machinery, as well as allowing you to kick, make up your basic moves. Booting an enemy off a tall standing ledge really doesn't get old.
That said then, the basic moves are a bit of a let-down, the amount of times there were no ambient environmental factors to indulge and so I would merely whip an enemy, boot him and then shoot him in the face. Admittedly, it takes a while for that sort of thing to get old, but it definitely happens. If there'd been a few more melee options it could have really sped up these slower sections of gameplay and made it slightly more fluid too.
A lot of the time you're concentrating more on the environment, wondering what explosive you can pull onto your enemy's face next, and it sort of detracts from the actual combat, the raw, outlandish action that's occurring before your eyes.
Fluidity is something that the engine tries so hard to maintain but just isn't polished enough for. My playthrough probably wasn't helped by it being immediately preceded by Killzone 3, a game that's core engine is practically sublime.
There's a vast array of weapons, or more accurately, seven. The Flail Gun is amongst my favourite, shooting two timed or remote grenades chained together. This can be stuck to walls, wrapped around trees, lampposts, scenery, your enemy's face, your enemy's legs, your enemy's friend's face... Wrapping it around an explosive barrel and kicking into a congregation of charging foe redeems results that would impress the A Team. Or the Iranian Government. Occasionally the carnage is mesmerizing, chaotic and utterly brilliant. It just doesn't happen that way enough. If you're going to make it ridiculous, I don't want to have to master the art to make things blow up, I just want to FEEL like I've mastered the art. Maybe I'm just rubbish at it.
The campaign is shorter than Charlie Sheen's temper, and about as volatile. And, (this isn't a spoiler, so be quiet) there's going to be a sequel. The cliffhanging ending only inspired a sigh from me though. Bulletstorm seemed like the perfect one-off. A new IP that was a bit of an explosive canter and then it'd be done with. Apparently not. Why can't we, just once, play something that isn't part of a hideously drawn out, on going series, which is going to lose its novelty three iterations in anyway, and the resulting 74 are just going to irritate everyone in the same relentless way supermarkets advertise at Christmas. Disappointing Epic.
I've gotten much more out of the ‘Echoes' mode than I thought I would. Essentially you're doing segregated campaign missions but with a point-scoring ideal in mind alone. They're fun, and the perfect platform to jump on to and have a bit of a blast with once you're all done with the campaign. I like to see developers putting in that extra ore for a bit of replayability.
The game was originally a co-op adventure, however reportedly the mode ‘broke the game' and so to a large degree of disappointment, it was removed. Co-op can still be undertaken in the game's own Anarchy mode, a ‘Horde'-esque set up where players are pitted against increasingly difficult waves of charging mental patients. I decided I'd rather eat my own sofa than try it, and then after finishing up that mammoth meal, jumped in and wasn't as blindingly disinterested as I first considered. It's solid, and more often than not it works, so long as you can find the right people to play with. Which isn't very often.
Bulletstorm's an arrogant, swaggering, substanceless jerk. The fact it knows it, and takes that very fact into account is enough for it to survive that, and its only short comings fall to a bit of under-development on the basic attacks side, and the fact the campaign is predictably short. It's worth the price for the stylized gameplay, which is a full-scale, on-going explosion; you'll shell away a few hours of fun and might even call back once in a while. Good for a blast.