Riders on the (Bullet)storm
This game has amazed me. It isn’t the fact that any number of creative ways you kill people has already been thought of by a developer, nor is it the fact that all of the guns play like they were made specifically to induce gleeful, child-like giggling. Even Steve Blum’s sailor mouth and hilarious banter with the other characters isn’t what made my jaw drop.
No, the thing that impresses me most about this game is that it is exactly as much fun as all the hype and marketing made it out to be.
Namely: Incredibly effing fun.
The game starts you out slow and easy, with a simple interactive cutscene to show you the basics (While Greyson Hunt, your character, is drunk off his ass). The game sets you up as bad guys, to rebels with a cause to just plain assholes all in the first chapter. Greyson doesn’t care about anything other than his crew, his booze, and his revenge towards General Serrano, a man he used to take orders from until he found out that they weren’t playing ball for the good guys. So Grey and his crew defect and run off to play Space Pirates for a decade or so.
Cue the start of the game. Grey’s drunken, murderous vendetta against Serrano gets 2.5 members of his crew killed, and the remaining half man gets made into a psychopathic AI, hellbent on surviving, with or without Greyson. Along the way, you meet Trishka, your typical action-girl, go through a few plot twists, and end up getting closer and closer to the most profane villain you’ve ever seen. Seriously. Serrano’s a drill instructor who’s only ever read one book: Dictionary of insults, unabridged.
But enough rambling about the story, you wanna hear about the gameplay! All the hundreds of ways you can kill those mutated freaks? For every thought you have on how to shoot a man to death in this game, you have a dozen ways to kill them. Kick them to death? Yawn. Kick them into the air, shoot them? Pshh. Kick them into the air, leash them down to you, smack them with a pair of grenades on a chain, kick them into a cactus and watch them blow up their friends? Now you’re talkin’!
You get about eight guns to choose from. This is a good number. What ISN’T a good number is the amount you can hold at one time. Three. Tres. Two plus one. And that one, your standard-issue PMC (That’s PeaceMaker Carbine) HAS to be on you at all times. Granted, the ammo for it’s everywhere, but still.
Back to the guns. You got ones that explode, ones that tie people up, ones that bounce, pop heads off, drill people to walls, set them on fire, etc etc. And each gun has a charge† that you can unlock (Think of it as a more-powerful alternate fire) after a certain point in the game. However, while acquiring weapons (Coming across them once and then being able to add them to your arsenal after a one-time purchase) makes plenty of sense, unlocking the charges is arbitrary. You’re likely to have found a new gun or two by the time you unlock the charge for one weapon. The effects are awesome, but you can only have up to nine charges per weapon, which requires a large amount of points to unlock everything to that point.
And the points are another thing. They are fun, quirky, and their names will make you giggle like an immature grade-schooler. Shoot a man in the ass? Rear Entry. In the throat? Gag reflex. Kick them onto a cactus (Yes I’m going to keep mentioning this, because there are many, many places to do this)? Pricker. Points will accumulate fast enough to keep you able to restock your ammo and charges whenever you find one of the “Dropshops” that you have to access. They’re placed fairly well along your route, generally not leaving you hungering for ammo. I only experienced one point in the game where I had no ammo whatsoever, and even then it was for less than five or ten minutes. The prices in the shops seem a bit steep sometimes for the quantities of ammo you’re getting for them, and more often than not, you will blow your entire score and still be just a few clips shy of comfortable. Late in the game, though, this isn’t much of an issue.
Greyson isn’t a pushover without his guns, either. He’s no prize boxer, but he’s got a mean kick to put Duke Nukem’s boots to shame. Also in his repetoire is a leash that can be used to manipulate the environment (Such as yanking a weak structure down to pass) or manipulate his enemies (To their death). He also has a slide that gets rediculous distance on it, before nailing whoever happened to be at the end of it into the sky. It is by far the most fun you’ll ever have on your ass in any game, ever. (Driving sims notwithstanding). Your options in combat are rarely limited, and this game is forgiving on all but the hardest difficulties. In a standard first-person shooter affair, getting careless would mean sticking your head too far out and getting it shot off. In Bulletstorm, getting careless means having stood in the way of a minigun-weilding armored psychopath for about fifteen seconds. Or catching five or six explosives with your face. Your body armor seems to come from the same manufacturers of Serious Sam T-Shirts, because it sure ain’t standard issue.
Even the toughest enemies in the game will only give you a couple minutes of trouble. I found myself slightly disappointed at a couple of sections, but my disappointment rarely lasted. Being so ungodly powerful as you are, you will probably only die a dozen times or so over the course of the game, and that’s if you play it like a nutjob. If you stick to cover and shoot at exposed enemies, you may as well be playing on god mode for how many times you’ll die. But then again, playing this like oh, say, Call of Duty would be entirely defeating the point of playing this game.
There are a few issues. I had to reinstall this numerous times to get it to work, and there are a few bugs that plagued me. The largest one occurred during the final mission, where I had died, but the game didn’t seem to recognize it. So I kept running around with a bloody screen, got all the way to the end, started the cutscene, and then the game promptly froze near the end of it. I had to restart the chapter, but it was still a large bug. Another one that bugged me was that windows didn’t shatter properly. Namely, they cracked, and then they did nothing. It took me a couple minutes to figure out that I had to walk through a pane of glass that was severely cracked, but didn’t have any visible holes. It didn’t have any after I walked through it, as well. These, a few places where I got stuck (None of which I couldn’t get out of) and one event which didn’t trigger until I reloaded a checkpoint were all the bugs I found.
All in all, I can recommend this game to anybody who has a taste for varied weapons and a stomach for gore, as well as a penchant for over-the-top humor. Be warned, however, it might turn you into a rapist.