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Bulletstorm review

Foul-mouthed, red-neck explodathon, or groundbreaking new kind of gun-fun?

But Bulletstorm is more than just its campaign. It’s a set of three distinct and substantial game modes. And although the two secondary options at first seem tacked on, in truth Bulletstorm is a very clever set-up. It’s a lot like the structure of Geometry Wars 2, in that it uses deconstructed modes to teach a greater understanding of the game as a whole by filtering it through different lenses.

The first of these is Echoes mode. If interacting with Bulletstorm is like learning a new gaming language, then Echoes teaches the finer points of grammar and punctuation. A set of 20 mini-levels reworked from sections of the main campaign, it’s pure score-attack. Thus, every individual kill, every group encounter, every piece of scenery, every weapon property and every environmental hazard has to be meticulously considered and its use carefully planned in order to maximise the score potential of your run. It’s Bulletstorm broken down to its purest form, as you race to wring every last point out of finite resources while minimising repetition for the sake of preserving reward.

In a remarkably short amount of time, Echoes becomes a science, as you mathematically work out your perfect run and polish your execution to nail it in record time. When you go back to the main campaign after an Echoes session, you’ll see a brand new game; a sharper, tighter, more detailed one that you’ll play in a brand new way.

And then there’s Anarchy, Bulletstorm’s multiplayer component. Wisely realising that competitive MP would be a scrappy clusterfook given Bulletstorm’s extravagant combat mechanics, People Can Fly and Epic have created a four-player Horde-style mode instead. Rather than charging your team with simply surviving waves, Anarchy instead requires you to pass each stage by hitting a specified team score quota before you run out of enemies to kill. This time though, normal combos just won’t cut it, however convoluted you make them.

Instead, you’ll have to score bigger points by pulling off team Skill Shots, splitting the components of each combo between several men using a combination of seat-of-the-pants creativity and razor-sharp choreography. Set in compact arenas packed out with useful environmental hazards, they give you plenty of options – including some brand new, team-specific Skill Shots, like tearing a man apart using multiple tethers – but only by operating as organised parts of a greater machine will you have any hope of succeeding.

Despite the mode’s name and the inevitable initial confusion of your first few attempts, once it clicks Anarchy becomes a deliciously gratifying and tactically rewarding slice of camaraderie pie, very much in the Left 4 Dead or Bad Company 2 mould. As such, it’s the kind of multiplayer that really will require you to play with friends rather than randoms – one clueless loner can instantly mess things up in the later waves – but also as such, it’s the kind of multiplayer that will provide some of your most satisfying moments of online bromance and epic tales of last minute victory.

Is it better than%26hellip; ?

Call of Duty: Black Ops? Yes. Blops is a slickrendition of the Call of Dutyformula, but by that very note it'sformulaic. CoD's cinematic hand-holding can't hold acandle to Bulletstorm's progressive, densely interactive invention in terms of game design or laughs per minute.By comparison, its core combay feelslike playing an RTS with only one unit. Blops does, however, have much more expansive multiplayer options.

Gears of War 2? Not better in every respect, no. But if you're serious about your shooters, you really do need both. They're great companion pieces in a way, in that both games are completely successful in fully exploring an individual approach to the shooter genre. Gears is the more superficially serious game, but Bulletstorm can match it in terms of scale and engaging narrative. Gears's tightly designed co-op campaign gets it extra points, but Bulletstorm's sheer depth and scope levels the playing field.

Just for you, Metacritic!

Forget your preconceptions of Bulletstorm as a foul-mouthed big dumb action game. It’s an intelligent, nuanced design with fathoms of depth, which marks a return to the importance of player creativity in shooters and simultaneously evolves the concept of interactivity in an FPS world. And with two cleverly complimentary secondary modes, it will have serious legs for a good long while to come.

More Info

PlatformPS3, PC, Xbox 360
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating18+


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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