Bulletstorm doesn’t deserve to get buried outright for its existence as a hyper-genre shooter, but there certainly has to be something more. Right?
I’d never heard of Bulletstorm before a Youtube video about a year ago. And that’s coming from someone pretty plugged into games media, so I find it hard to believe that many were screaming for this re-release. This is a little bit like the Prototype double-pack re-release that no one wanted some years ago too. Old IP simply must keep making money.
I don’t usually do this but after reading some research on the differences between Full Clip and the original, I have to share some immediate red flags. The official website lists one of the “features” of Full Clip as a “multi-playthrough campaign,” which seems to just mean a campaign that you can playthrough more than once. Their wording here, while meaning that you can play through again with your upgrades and weapons intact, seems to indicate that you can just hit play again. Thank god, the game won’t self-destruct this time through. Whew!
Another weird thing that Bulletstorm clearly has had to weather is an accepting audience. A Gearbox Publishing executive producer said some slightly-out-of-touch-things back near the release of Full Clip, such as his belief that there “hasn’t been another Bulletstorm or Bulletstorm-esque game” since 2011. I can inundate you with links of evidence from this website alone to the contrary. He did admit that the game was swallowed whole with no real viewership in 2011, which lead to Full Clip and the hope of the streaming audience taking a shine to the updated version.
After playing the game, it seems clear that this representative didn’t really know how to sell Bulletstorm nor what makes it special. Whether I agree with the re-release or not is another story entirely.
Captain dick-for-brains Grayson Hunt is your protagonist who would fit just right inside of a Gears of War game. He and his band of space army boys are betrayed by their commanding officer and take to turning his life into a living hell as a result. That ends up taking both of their ships and respective crews down into the sandy expanse of Stygia where the race is on to escape. It’s a serviceable shell that houses some of the most robustly filthy writing I’ve ever heard in a video game.
That doesn’t mean it lacks charm or purpose. One of the strengths of Grayson is how his motivations are always clear and precise to the point where you can basically follow his emotions like you would turns of his head. I’m not claiming an intense amount of depth, but for the story and setting we have, the elements are all in place. There’s a friend we’re helping, a friendly rival, and a bad guy you’re very sure is late for their own funeral by about the 5th minute.
Hey, here’s a joke: What did the sailor say to the-? What’s that? You can’t know the punchline because the joke isn’t finished? Imagine that in a story’s ending.
Yep, big ol’ cliffhanger. Again, Bulletstorm’s climax running outside the length of its entry won’t keep me up at night but, you know, closure is a thing that people kind of like. Even so, the ride you take on the colorful, fairly-clever writing and clear characters is worthy of the Gears popcorn-movie style.
Speaking of Gears, boy does this game remind me of Gears of War. You’re even dressed like a Cog! It’s blatant and naked...except that even with the up-rezed graphics, the clear age lines remain. Everyone has the extended forehead of a ram minus the horns while environments become less pretty the closer they are. Skyboxes and those mid-range details certainly don’t offend, but glitches can still hamper your fun. One boss fight threw me between the world where I got to ponder mortality for a few minutes until it somehow knocked me back out.
Gameplay is smoother than it has any right to be. There’s a Doom-level of fluidity to movement that allows you to angle for environmental kills, trickshots, and other chicanery that feeds into the Skillshot loop. The points you receive from, say, pulling an enemy close and kicking them into a cactus are basically currency to feed into your weapons. This is a terrific baseline idea to evolve you naturally from gun to gun, checking off more of the many different possible trickshots you can put corpses through. Supercharges help take down larger boss characters, leading to a humorous takeoff from a fired drill tip or a poor skeleton from whence melted flesh flew. While not as original as Gearbox would have us believe, there is further charm in the gameplay than you may have initially believed.
The other *ahem* extras of Bulletstorm: Full Clip are rare and seem pithy. You have Echoes - high-score chases in arenas yanked straight from the campaign - and multiplayer, which is dead. It’s pretty clear that developer People Can Fly bringing the graphics up to par was first and foremost as the selling point with everything else feeling extremely tacked-on.
Which leads to the wonderful wonderousity of Full Clip existing at all. Sure, it got at least me to play it, as someone that never did before, but that was only behind the veil of PlayStation Plus. Bulletstorm doesn’t deserve to get buried outright for its existence as a hyper-genre shooter, but there certainly has to be something more than that. Just being re-released isn’t enough - especially not at $50 for hardly any extras.
Neither is Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition likely to bring about any sort of conclusion to this series. Instead, it’ll have to stand as a game that probably deserved more than it got while getting exactly what it was priced to deserve.
Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Score: