Bulletstorm review

  • Genuinely evolved FPS gameplay
  • Immense freedom and creativity of play
  • Secondary modes add depth and give it real legs
  • There's a bit of texture pop-in at times
  • The last act has a noticeable difficulty spike
  • You'll want Bulletstorm 2 as soon as the credits roll

Bulletstorm is not what you think it is. Whatever you thought of the demo and wherever you sit on the expectation scale, whether you currently perceive it as a potty-mouthed piece of juvenilia or a glorious hark-back to the balls-out fun of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake, you’re wrong. It’s far, far more than that, and it’s far, far better than that.

Bulletstorm you see, is a very intelligent, highly intricate, and sumptuously nuanced design masquerading as a big dumb action game. In fact it’s such an evolution of the FPS experience that it’s very probably destined for that pantheon of rare games to be deemed worthy of the word “important” in a couple of years time. Yeah, the i-word. I went there.

Above: Bulletstorm's Polish box art revealed. We like it

Bulletstorm is not just a shooter. In fact, once you’ve taken the time to really explore its depths, you’ll realise that being a shooter is just one small part of what it’s about. It’s just as much a 3D puzzle game, high-speed strategy game, and even, if you really get into it, a bit of a maths challenge too. Also, shit dun blows up real purdy like. But I’ll come to all of that. First, the basics.

In Bulletstorm’s main campaign, you play Grayson Hunt, a former government spec ops agent turned hard drinking space pirate. He has a well-reasoned vendetta against his former employers, which leads to a large-scale space battle near the start of the game, which in turn leads to Grayson and his crew crash-landing on the wrecked resort planet of Stygia. From hereon in, it’s all about finding a way off-world, while ideally getting hold of the chief bad guys along the way. And that’s where things get very, very exciting.

Early on, you’ll gain access to an electric tether. It’s essentially a grappling hook with which you can grab hold of almost any enemy and a vast array of objects, whip them towards you, and then hold them in front of you for a few seconds, suspended in slo-mo. From there, your options are limitless. Being also equipped with a powerful kick, your most obvious follow-up is to boot your flailing target back up into the air before pumping it full of lead.

But that’s just the most basic training-wheels principle underpinning a complexity and depth you have not yet experienced in first-person combat. The leash/kick/shoot string is simply the equivalent of learning your first special move in Street Fighter, or initially getting your head around the basic mechanics of Aperture Science portals. Small acorn, full-blown Amazonian rainforest to come.

You’re constantly judged on the complexity and inventiveness of your kills, and scores decrease with repetition. The points you score for clever killing are the currency you use to buy new weapons, as well as functionality upgrades for your existing ones. Every gun and additional perk is meticulously designed to integrate with and balance against the others, opening up a pantheon of new options with each one that’s added to the mix.

These options make up Bulletstorm’s comprehensive list of Skill Shots, a line-up of circumstantial kills and stacked combos detailed in the pause menu, which comprise every possible violent interaction you’ll concoct and plenty you won’t. We’re talking well over a hundred individual “moves” here, with an accessible freedom of blendability that evokes the glory days of Tony Hawk’s combo system.

Examples? The flail gun launches an explosive-charged snare which attaches to enemy and environment alike, ready to be detonated at will or after a countdown. Cool, but what happens if you tie it to a mook, tether him in, kick him at a group of friends, and then detonate? Big points, that’s what. Or how about if you quickly switch to another gun and kill him just before the charge wipes out his mates? Now you’re rolling a real combo. And then how about if you achieve that early kill with a specific head-shot, throat-shot or ass-shot? Now you’re thinking.

Or you could use a specially charged tether whiplash to launch every enemy in the vicinity straight up, before gunning them down back to earth for a Trap Shoot bonus. Or you could instead flail-shot one of the launched goons and instantly detonate, wiping out the whole suspended group before they even start to fall. Fertiliser bonus. Or you could immediately re-tether one of them and whip him back down into the ground with fatal speed. Slam Dunk bonus. And I’m still just scratching the surface here.

More Info

Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: People Can Fly, Epic Games
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol
PEGI Rating:

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  • Darkhawk - January 23, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    I hereby bestow this review with the esteemed Andrew Ryan Memorial Overrated Award, celebrating hyperbole since the day BioShock first scored a perfect 10.
  • SDHoneymonster - August 10, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    Picked this up recently as it was going in an XBL sale. Definitely worth the £4, but personally for me it's not a 10/10 game. I find the humour quite tiring - it occasionally raises a chuckle, but it misses more often than it hits. The story too is dull, as are the characters. After a couple of hours I just found myself wanting to blast through it like a normal shooter, which is of course missing the point entirely, but if there's nothing to keep you hooked, why are you going to bother fully exploring the Skillshot system? That said, when you hit a sweet spot, with a load of enemies around, your ammo maxed out and your mind ticking over, it's huge fun to see what you can come up with in terms of kills.
  • Rotten2dcore - March 9, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    how did this game get 10 when GOW 2 got 9
  • twewy13 - February 28, 2011 10:34 p.m.

    I'd sooo much rather have homefront...haha jk... i didn't expect this game to be good truthfully, looks like i was very very off
  • quincytheodore - February 25, 2011 6:46 a.m.

    Didn't expect a 10 here... Might me my next game...
  • Ironarm - February 25, 2011 12:14 a.m.

    @Shazamin In no way does a 10 mean a perfect score. If a 10 meant "Perfect" it would say "Perfect" instead of "Incredible". Of course there's room for improvement for any game. Just look at the end of the review at the "Things You'll Hate" section. And saying that it's above every other game that doesn't get a 10 is just silly. You can't really say that Bulletstorm is better than Dead Space 2, which got a 9. (I'm just using Dead Space 2 as an example). They're completely different games. Perhaps the best example is comparing it to Killzone 3, since they both came out on the same day. Killzone 3 got a 9, so by your logic it shouldn't be as good as Bulletstorm (at least according to this reviewer) but I can name you off a ton of people that think the complete opposite. Review scores are all opinion, and there is no such thing as a "Perfect" score. He just felt that the game was Incredible, and gave that score. Sorry for the rant. I'm not angry or anything. Just giving my two cents.
  • Zeb364 - February 24, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    Bought it, played it, beat it, all in one sitting. I gotta say, I didn't quite like it as much as you seemed to. It's a great game but I wouldn't give it a ten and I really didn't feel it was a massive leap forward for the genre. That said, this review presents some great points and supports them with a fantastic arguments. It's a great read.
  • e1337prodigy - February 24, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    installing now. Can't believe you guys gave it a 10. I trust your judgement. captcha - shatmeet perhaps - lol, kind of ties in with the game and its profanity
  • Ravenbom - February 24, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    The real question this review doesn't answer is: does Bulletstorm make you a rapist as Fox News claims.
  • RenegadePixel - February 24, 2011 6:58 p.m.

    A perfect 10? oh my...may have to check it out. Check out my blog if you have a minute guys.
  • jackthemenace - February 24, 2011 12:32 p.m.

    AAAaaarrggghh... Just recently i decided it might not be the kind of game i'd want... ... BUT NOW I WANTT IT ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!!11!!1!one!!!
  • Lionzest7 - February 24, 2011 9:01 a.m.

    Loved every minute of the campaign so far in this game. People who only whip shoot and kick are boring people. They want CoD to wipe their ass and just hide behind cover and shoot people 24/7.
  • Shazamin - February 24, 2011 4:42 a.m.

    Man it sucks to say this, because this is one of my favorite editors, but i can NOT agree with this review.He has to remember when he gives a game a 10/10 he is saying it is a perfect game. It can not improve in any way and it is above every other game, besides those that have 10's. To say bullet storm is a perfect game is rediculous when other games that are much better are getting more fair reviews. The review seemded a little hasty and biast, so maybe someone else should have reviewed it, since it honestly doesn't deserve the coveted INCREDIBLE status.
  • GrandMoffBubbles - February 24, 2011 2:55 a.m.

    I love this game!!!
  • Aletheon - February 24, 2011 6:04 a.m.

    This is the best FPS after HL2 I've ever played. A 10 for this game makes perfect sense.
  • TheIronMaiden - February 24, 2011 3:48 a.m.

    I couldn't be happier with this game! however my one gripe is I wish I could replay the campaign with my weapon and upgrades still unlocked.
  • AwesomeGuitarSoloMan - February 23, 2011 11:45 p.m.

    I knew this was a great game, but i am pleasently suprised at a mofo-ing 10
  • SunnyvaleTrash - February 23, 2011 9:31 p.m.

    Can't wait to get my copy tomorrow. Hopefully hooking up with strangers for anarchy mode works out well. I normally shy away from playing with people I don't know, but for this I am willing to dive in.
  • Ironarm - February 23, 2011 8:51 p.m.

    I love the people that complain about how "stupid and childish" the game is. Bulletstorm is all about fun and in no way takes itself seriously. I love it. I'm glad one reviewer out there could view the game as it was intended to be viewed.
  • philipshaw - February 23, 2011 3:33 p.m.

    This looks great, I will get it when it's cheaper