Price: £29.99 Developer: People Can Fly Publisher: Gearbox Studios Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One, Version Reviewed: PC
Bulletstorm is obnoxious, crude, and silly. This was true of the 2011 release, and it's still the case in 2017, with People Can Fly partnering with Gearbox Software to remaster and re-release the game.
Still, I had a lot of fun playing the game, and while Grayson Hunt's tale of redemption, wisecracking, and general debauchery is trashy, it's compelling enough a tale to explain why you're stomping around the planet Stygia shooting the hell out of everything.
If this actually were the B-movie it feels reminiscent of, Grayson Hunt's former Confederate operative turned outlaw would be played by Scott Adkins, and just like a B-movie, it's okay to enjoy it, even if it's not high art.
There are plenty of problems here, largely attributed to the game being a 2011 FPS given a new coat of paint six years later. You move like a fridge, shuffling around the levels slightly awkwardly. Signposting isn't 100 percent clear, with a progress-blocking bug triggering in one area leaving me walking around the map for 20 minutes looking for what I'd done wrong.
In spite of these and several smaller issues, I found my time with Bulletstorm was largely positive. Most of the guns have unexpected features, whether that's mixing up your standard fare with a revolver that also shoots flares that send enemies spinning into the air before exploding, or the completely esoteric grenade flail, which fires two grenades on a chain that wrap around an enemy — strangling them if you hit them in the neck, tripping them if you hit them in the legs — before exploding and killing them and anyone around them.
You'll be expected to use these weapons well, because Bulletstorm's primary challenge is not to survive, which is often quite easy by exploiting your generous health pool, sizeable armoury, and the lethal environment around you, but instead it is to thrive in the environment and to kill, as the game's tag line dubiously states, with skill. Achieving skillshots with the various weapons and traps in the environment earns you more skill points, and you can use these to unlock new weapons, abilities, and ammo.
The reward system is weighted in such a way that instead of shooting a man in the chest with your assault rifle, it's often a better idea to shoot him in the butt or shoot him in the legs to trip him over before stamping on his head. This might sound crude, and it is, but it's never really highlighted in a particularly gross way. It's just part of the way the shooter works.
Before you hit the midway point, you'll be switching effortlessly between guns to try to get all of the skillshots you haven't yet achieved, garrotting men with a grenade launcher or guiding the bullet from a sniper rifle into someone's crotch, before using your leash — an energy tool that you can use to grab people and objects from afar and pull them towards you in slow motion — to toss a man over your shoulder into a cactus behind you. When the game's frenetic combat works, which is often, the flow is nigh-perfect, and you'll find yourself blitzing through arenas with a smile on your face.