Chances are you don’t own a copy of Bulletstorm. It’s a first-person shooter that went pretty much unnoticed last year, what with Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 tying up the market in that particular genre. And that’s a shame, because Bulletstorm is also a crass, gory and insane sci-fi shoot-‘em up that’s disturbingly good fun to play.
You play as Grayson Hunt, an alcoholic former black ops soldier who looks like a chubby version of Wolverine and swears like a sailor with Tourette’s. When Hunt and his team find an opportunity to exact revenge against the colonel that betrayed them ten years previously, Hunt crashes both of their ships on the surface of Stygia, a gorgeously-rendered resort planet where the population has mutated into flesh-eating cannibalistic monsters.
Refreshingly, multiplayer is non-existent here, and it’s great to see a plot-driven game – even if it’s a plot that’s nuttier than a crate of Snickers bars. It’s fast-paced, exciting and hilarious (if you’re not offended by toilet humour and foul language) and there’s a surprising amount of depth. Granted, any work that features lines like “hold your dick for one second, you fungal rimjob” isn’t an intellectual masterpiece, but it’s amusing and well-written.
It’s also gloriously fun to play. Weapons consist of your usual assault rifle, pistol, shotgun and sniper rifle, but each has its own secondary fire mechanic that ups the insanity to 11. The shotgun can fire all four of its barrels at once to reduce enemies to a skeleton, whilst sniper bullets can be remote-controlled and driven straight into an enemy’s goolies.
You also have an electric leash you can use to draw enemies closer to you, and a big heavy boot to kick them away. On their own, these things would be awesome, but it’s combining them together that makes for a truly great gaming experience – you can kick enemies onto giant cacti, leash them into electric fences, and even pull helicopters down from the sky, with more stylish kills earning you points. Amazingly, there’s enough variation to keep the gruesome deaths fun from start to finish, and finding all the variations is reason enough to replay the story.
Bulletstorm isn’t a perfect game. At times it’s too reliant on quick-time events, and most glaringly the ending feels like a huge setup for a sequel that, thanks to a lack of funding, will probably never come. But at a time where first person shooters are grounded in realism and based around a hundred different shades of the colour brown, it’s a bright, colourful and brilliantly irreverent game that’s well worth your time and money.
Just don’t buy it if you’re at all squeamish.