Bro’s Day Out
I hate to beat a dead horse here, but it’s pretty obvious how saturated the FPS market was in 2011. That same saturation hasn’t changed much in six years, as the genre is still pretty popular. Hyper-realism and science-fiction shenanigans were the norm, and the gameplay didn’t really have much variation when you think about it.
Enter Bulletstorm. Billed as a sort of antithesis to modern FPS games, it relished in trying to be as crass and over-the-top as it possibly could be. Sadly, it fell flat on its face from a sales standpoint and didn’t turn a profit for EA at the time.
Like many other games from the previous generation, Bulletstorm hops on the remastering train with Full Clip Edition. This time around, the visuals have been updated to match modern hardware and 4K visuals are touted on hardware that offers it. Published by Gearbox Publishing and developed by People Can Fly, this remaster was released on April 7, 2017 and is available on PC/PS4/Xbox One at a price point of $59.99. Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour is available as additional DLC for $5.00. The PS4 version was played for this review.
One thing I touted about Bulletstorm when it initially released was how it loved to relish in it ridiculousness. The plot is the best kind of goofy with dialogue to match. It’s pretty obvious that the voice actors are enjoying themselves with the way they let loose with the script; they do not take themselves very seriously at all.
We follow Grayson Hunt (voiced by veteran voice actor Steve Blum) and his band of space pirate assholes as they make their way towards redemption due to an apparent dupe by their CO, Sarrano. The funny part about this game is in how it seems to enjoy relishing in ridiculous, immature dialogue. While it’s totally over the top on how it’s delivered, it never seems to be “put on” all that much. It throws you off, makes you laugh, and sometimes raises eyebrows with how absurd it is (“Kill your d**k” comes to mind right away).
Visually speaking, its improvements are nothing extravagant, but they get the job done. It’s not as “brown” as a lot of FPSes it released alongside, and the framerate usually stays locked at a smooth 60 frames per second. Playing the game on my first-generation PS4 yielded these results regularly, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the PS4 Pro’s and Xbox One S’ performances are a marked improvement on that, with the aforementioned 4K uprezzing.
A major strength that Bulletstorm had upon its initial release was the Skillshot system. Instead of blazing through the game like any other modern FPS, it’s important to be creative with how you dispatch your foes. Using the environment and weapons in various ways, utilizing your Energy Leash and slide/kick will net you Skillshot points that you can use at drop pods to replenish ammo and buy/improve your weaponry. The more creative and varied you are, the more points you will get. I found myself experimenting as I went for a large portion of my playthrough, but sometimes I just found myself falling back into traditional tactics at times. This doesn’t help much in the Skillshot department, but the game accommodates well enough.
The King Fell Off The Throne
Gearbox’s handling of the Duke Nukem IP has been…strange to say the least. They wrestled Duke away from 3D Realms and finally released Duke Nukem Forever with very disappointing results. Since then, a follow up is all but mired in mystery and apparently Gearbox felt the need to throw him in as a drop-in bonus for Full Clip Edition.
You can turn his participation on and off at the main menu, but it would have been nice for a pause screen option instead. Sadly, his participation in this remaster feels more like a throwaway afterthought than a legit appearance. Sure, you get Jon St. John reprising his role as the catchphrase-spewing Duke, but that’s about it. Characters still address him as Grayson, his lip synch is off, and it’s basically just St. John reading the same script that Blum did. Not to say his performance isn’t entertaining, but you would think that they would play with the fact that an early FPS icon is in a modern shooter. Unless you’re itching to hear Duke’s voice again, you’re not missing much here.
Chewing the Scenery For Fun and Profit
Replaying this reminded me why we need more off-beat titles in the gaming landscape. Far too often we see developers falling into a miasma of brown and “realism,” and here comes Bulletstorm screaming in with fireworks and beer like the off-kilter drunkard Grayson is portrayed as. Not that I have too many issues with more “serious” games, it’s always fun to see a title like this come down the pike and spike the punch with really strong liquor laced with all the goofy fun you can handle.
While the Duke content is disappointing, that doesn’t change the fact that the remastered Bulletstorm is still a blast to play. Putting this game back in my hands reminded me how enjoyable it is to relish in goofy ridiculousness. Even if it is a naturally short ride down memory lane, it’s a game well worth revisiting.
Review copy provided by Gearbox Publishing. Screenshots taken by reviewer.