Bulletstorm hands-on preview: Is the campaign as fun as the demo?

Five minutes. Five minutes of a very short demo was all gamers needed to decide that, yep, they were definitely interested in whatever twist on first person shooters Bulletstorm had to offer later this February. Of course, it helped that those five minutes could be repeated over and over and over again, each time played with an incredibly different – and incredibly sadistic – approach.

But those are still only five minutes of an hours-long campaign. If that much diversity and insanity can be packed into a demo, what might happen through the course of the entire single player story? Having finished Bulletstorm last month, I can give you an idea. Here's a sample of what I experienced during just the first third of the game…

1. Interrogated a hostage, at gunpoint, while drunk. This is how Bulletstorm opens – with my character, Grayson Hunt, slurring his speech and waving his weapon wildly at the military man he has recently captured on his rebel ship. When the man refuses to reveal the whereabouts of Grayson's sworn foe, General Sarrano, the game instructs me to intimidate and shoot a bottle off his head. Still drunk. And when that doesn't work? I learn the "kick" button for the first time, violently launching the helpless prisoner into the suffocating reaches of outer space.

2. Recklessly endangered the lives of my entire crew. Soon after the scene above, Grayson and company accidentally warp right next to General Sarrano's armada. Although outgunned to a ludicrous degree, and although his mates beg him not to, the intoxicated captain can't resist the opportunity for vengeance. Suddenly, I'm playing a rail-shooter instead of a first person shooter – swooping across the span of a gigantic mothership, taking out turrets and half expecting Han Solo to tell me that I'm "one in a million."

3. Learned what bullying feels like at the hands of a bipolar cyborg. Grayson manages to bring down Sarrano's ship, but in the process, also succeeds in crashing his own. Now everyone – good, bad – is stuck on a former paradise planet overrun with alien creatures and savage gangs. My immediate concern, however, is Ishi Sato. The superhuman cyborg who was my best friend a few minutes ago has now given into his heartless logic circuits, realized that Sarrano is the only ticket off this lovely hellhole and is demanding (quite violently) that Grayson help him both find the General and protect the General's life.

4. Stood on the side of a skyscraper. Literally sideways, with my shoes suctioned on windows and my body parallel to the streets a dizzying mile below. It's such a clever, original setting for a shooter that I wish I could fight a whole vertigo-soaked war up here. Sadly, this is a flashback mission and mostly tutorial, so all I can do is run down the building, smash into an office and slow-motion assassinate the employee inside. Grayson and crew were once a hit squad for Sarrano, you see, and unwittingly murdered innocent people. Thus, the present-day quest for revenge, redemption and alcohol.

5. Decapitated a boss… with my foot. Back in the present, I'm happy to discover that even Bulletstorm's boss battles are infused with the same DIY depravity I unleashed on regular enemies in the demo. The first few are bulked-up gang members with more life and more armor. Once I've whipped off their protective helmets, I can either: a) whip off their heads as well, b) kick off their heads, or for a refreshing change of pace, c) run around and shoot them in the ass, causing a jet of gassy flame to erupt like Old Faithful. Hey, the game ain't shy.

6. Whipped a helicopter to death. No need to dive for cover. No need to search for the rocket launcher. This is supposed to be unapologetically over-the-top fun, remember? So when a fleet of helicopters show up, I simply whip the pilots right out of their seats and riddle their bodies with ammunition before they smack the ground. Bulletstorm rewards my creativity with "Flyswatter" skill points.

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  • The4X - February 15, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    @ GamesRadarCharlieBarratt Ok I reconsidered. I'm just jealous.
  • Teegro - February 10, 2011 3:53 a.m.

    I found the demo very underwhelming to be frank. It felt like the humour was a bit too forced and the gameplay, while certainly OTT, reminded me of The Club with it's emphasis on points, similar speed runs and trying to kill to up a score. It felt just as that disappointment did, a good idea but ultimately shallow and unsatisfying.
  • Vyskammer - February 10, 2011 3:32 a.m.

    Oh wow. This review has gotten me really excited. I loved the demo, playing it a few times through trying to get above 4 stars. I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a game.
  • WTFBOOM - February 9, 2011 11:32 p.m.

    How long is the campaign?
  • VSorceress - February 9, 2011 11:31 p.m.

    Based on a few of my friends reaction to this game, I think that there are a few reasons why people do not like the demo: 1). They did not realize that there are two other weapons that you can get in the intital load out screen. 2). They were not creative enough in their attempts to kill people. 3). No Team Deathmatch. The 1st reason can easily be resolved. Choose the left and Right selectors on the bottom two weapons. Done. The 2nd one, I advise them to youtube videos to become "inspired" in how to kill.. if that doesn't get them interested, then well you can't expect everyone to like this style but at least you gave them ideas on how to do some really creative skill shots. The 3rd reason is pretty much dead in the water at first glance. You can stick to the monotonous military shooters that are more than widely available. I'll venture off into the innovative yet somewhat retro style that I find so refreshing in this game.
  • FNG - February 9, 2011 10:34 p.m.

    In Crysis, the fun is in killing your enemies, and in Bulletstorm, it's in the ways you kill your enemies, and that would be fine, if there were more ways to kill theme.
  • FNG - February 9, 2011 10:28 p.m.

    Each different way of killing someone is only fun the first time and there are only so many ways.
  • ObliqueZombie - February 9, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    So... did people just run around shooting the enemies, or what? You know, the point of the game is to be as creative as possible while killing even the smallest, worthless enemy. All this complaining about "the shooting not being that fun" is completely unjustified. You missed the point. The point isn't the kill quickly and effeciently (like CoD, Medal of Honor, Halo, Killzone, etc., etc., etc...), it's to kill slowly and creativly. Killing with as much pain-inducing tricks and uses of environment as possible. So really, if you ran through this playing as if it was Gears of War first-person, you've obviously missed the point. You might as well try and play Halo: Reach without using an Armor Ability.
  • ThatNorwegianPersonFromSpace - February 9, 2011 7:54 p.m.

    The only thing that could ruin this game for me is if it's 5 hours long or something, but I'll still probably buy it. Also, no multiplayer I hope (we don't need no wasted resources)
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - February 9, 2011 6:26 p.m.

    "I H8 U" :(
  • skyline19 - February 9, 2011 1:27 p.m.

    I like the look of it but with DA2 coming up I think I'll give it a miss.
  • The4X - February 9, 2011 9:44 a.m.

    "Having finished Bulletstorm last month, I can give you an idea" I H8 U.
  • humpiedumpie - February 9, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    Still not interested, but i didn't like the demo either.
  • Zeb364 - February 9, 2011 7:58 a.m.

    Damn I can't wait for this game!
  • AGENTJORRRG - February 9, 2011 7:20 a.m.

    Looks generic as hell. All I can say is Meh.
  • kidego71 - February 9, 2011 5:19 a.m.

    @FNG Wait...Bulletstorm didnt have variety but Crisis 2 did??? Are you sure we played the same demos?
  • bitchassafriBLAMamericANTISTA - February 9, 2011 3:59 a.m.

    i didn't like the shooting in the demo, and other then the grenade launcher and overcharged carbine while intoxicated i rarely fired my gun in the demo
  • KnightDehumidifier - February 9, 2011 3:45 a.m.

    HEY, YOU LOOK LIKE A REAL TOOL! Well I am a typical male between the ages of 18-35 who plays run-off-the-mill action games. He finds mundane first person shooters to be his only enjoyment in life. SO WHATCHA DOIN'? Well I'm planning on planning on spending a day leveling up my soldier by shooting at some people on some maps I spent fifteen dollars on, because it seems like the right thing. NO WAY DICKTITS, YOU'RE GONNA PLAY BULLETSTORM!
  • 8bitBaby - February 9, 2011 3:40 a.m.

    man! this game looks so over the top it has to be fun. and also, that one helicopter you were flying looks like something gyro gearloose wiped up in his wooden shack of a lab. XD
  • Fusionmix - February 9, 2011 3:23 a.m.

    @hardcore_gamer1990 That's what I was thinking, pretty much. Except if Ratchet had a threesome with Duke Nukem and TimeSplitters while Quentin Tarantino watched.