2011 has had its fair share of “Doom Clones,” many of which have been similar in gameplay and aesthetics. Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Rage, Bulletstorm, Gears of War 3; the list goes on of shooters released in 2011. How does one game stand out above the rest? I don’t think it’s really possible with the oversaturation of the shooter genre right now; the best one can hope for is a solid experience and a few hours of pure unadulterated fun, and Bulletstorm more than delivered.
From the start of the game, Bulletstorm looks a bit different with a bright and vibrant world and almost no shades of brown and gray. The game literally begins with a bang as Grayson Hunt and his crew crash their spaceship onto a world which contains a massive vacation resort. The game has astounding set pieces; the escape from “explosion town,” where you and your mate Ishi ride a train being followed by a gang shooting at you from helicopters and trucks while being followed by a massive spinning wheel that crushes everything in its path, is a great example. The game sets an amazing sense of scale while moving through the world.
The characters, despite being somewhat cliché and one dimensional, end up being pretty likable as Grayson sets out for redemption killing humans and mutants alike. The banter between the Final Echo, knife wielding, commander Trishka and Grayson is entertaining at times; the dick jokes can get a bit tiring but do manage to be funny. Many of the characters would not look out of place in a Gears of War or Unreal Tournament title, with their huge hulking forms and gruff sensibility, although it is to be expected from an Unreal, Epic developed game.
The Skillshot system is the unique system of this game, and while it does succeed to a certain extent I never found myself going out of the way for interesting kills, instead opting for the most efficient ways: usually kicking enemies off cliffs or shooting someone with a shotgun at point blank range. The combat still managed to be fun with a variety of both guns and enemies. The game constantly mixes up the kind of enemies you encounter, which kept me changing my weapon load out to best fit the situation. New enemies are introduced throughout the story, and older enemies return in tougher forms. All the guns feel nice and responsive and your ability to kick almost any enemy into the air makes for some great combat. There is a system in place in which you hold down a button to make sure you see crucial events without taking away control from you. There are a number of cutscenes although many of them are short and quickly skipable if you have no interest in the story.
Bulletstorm delivers an engaging and fun 6-8 hour singleplayer campaign with a score attack and multiplayer co-op mode to boot. The singleplayer itself was well worth the price of admission (full disclosure, I paid $5 for the game during a Steam Sale) and holds its own in a year full of shooters. If you are looking for a solid and structured shooter that you can knock out in a few sittings, Bulletstorm will take you on one hell of a ride.