In 2011, scrappy Polish developers People Can Fly (who also brought us Gears of War: Judgement) unleashed Bulletstorm on the world, and those wise enough to heed the call were treated to one of the more creative—if not straight-up insane—sci-fi first-person shooters of the last 10 years.
You were Grayson Hunt, a former mercenary for a corrupt government who, after discovering the truth about the nefarious General Serrano's puppet master-like antics, grew a conscience, disappeared to the nether-regions of space and crawled into the bottom of a bottle. When we joined Grayson and his rag-tag squad of space pirates, they had just found the good general after years of hiding and plotting, and the next thing you knew, a murder/suicide attempt resulted in being marooned on some distant planet where a once-glorious resort had been taken over by murderous madmen and mutants. Things get nutty, but Grayson is ever the ridiculous voice of not caring about the danger so much as the blasting of fools.
Whew. OK, that's a lot. And it did not sell well, which is truly a shame as somewhere among the profanity-laden script and the bonkers-violent gameplay was a bizarrely creative title with an intriguing narrative, a satisfyingly robust and varied campaign and some of the most off-the-wall action in gaming history. Without spoilers, the campaign's final moments even allowed for a sequel—one that never came.
A sequel this ain't, but the new release of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition—now in an upgraded, 4K, smoother play and beautified graphics port courtesy of Borderlands publisher Gearbox—is just what longtime fans who've left the previous generation of consoles behind have been clamoring for, and it's every bit as awesome this time around.
People Can Fly have reportedly referred to Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition as a means to test the proverbial waters for that aforementioned sequel. In other words, if this sells well, we may finally get more out of the franchise. This would be an incredibly good thing, and if the remaster proves nothing else, this title ages well. With a gorgeous world and a brilliantly experimental arsenal, Bulletstorm shines in its paving of new ground. Weapons don't just fall into point-and-shoot categories, and innovative (for games, anyway) tech such as a handgun that boasts explosive flairs, a flail gun that fires off two bombs connected via chain which can then be detonated at the user's leisure or a sniper rifle that allows for slow-motion control of a bullet's trajectory merely scratch the surface of what's going on.
See, Bulletstorm promotes creativity in kills. In fact, it requires them, as a varied playstyle equals points you'll need to gain more ammo and unlock new abilities for weapons and, drumroll please, its main selling point: the Final Echo Leash/melee mechanics.
Fundamentally a laser whip/grabber, the one-two punch of leash/kick allows Grayson to yank an enemy from far away and fling him into exposed wires, massive cacti and exposed rebar or send them toppling off cliffs or into piranha-infested waters. Bulletstorm rewards so-called "skillshots" for achieving tons of things such as impaling a baddie on something sharp or blasting their legs off with a shotgun to ripping their heads off with the leash or mercifully landing a headshot after a firing into their crotch. It's not for the faint-hearted, but it does tap into a primal human instinct for mayhem and, frankly, it can be very funny. Obviously, this will turn some players off, but the over-the-top action screams to not be taken seriously, and the pacing of ramped up difficulty, new weapons and a constant supply of differing enemy AI add up for a raucous (yet absurd) good time.
Converts to the series should hopefully be plentiful, and if you missed Bulletstorm the first time out, we cannot recommend jumping in enough. Returning players, however, won't find a lot new. All the DLC from the original release—which was simply new maps for the horde-like multiplayer mode—is tacked on and, for some reason, so is foulmouthed gaming icon Duke Nukem. Gearbox owns Duke and, after the disastrous release of his last game, 2011's garbage-title Duke Nukem Forever, we mostly hoped he'd never return. Duke takes Grayson's place with a newly-recorded script, and it's … fine. Just fine. Of course, they didn't record new dialogue for NPCs, so they all still call him Grayson or Gray. But whatevs. Personally, I had to go back to Grayson, voiced by Steve Blum (who you may recognize as Spike Spiegel in the dubbed versions of Cowboy Bebop), but then again—I'm a sucker for the original lines such as, "Take a lick off the salty taint of doom, you brain dead biker whores!" Ah, to be young again.
The point is this: If you never played Bulletstorm, this is undoubtedly the time to jump in. It's weird and funny and fun as hell, and some of us are really hankering for that sequel. If you did play the first time around, be cautious. Yes, this looks better than ever and it's every bit as awesome as it ever was, but if you already own the original game and the means to play it, you can probably save yourself a few bucks and throw that bad boy on. Regardless, let's all get back into this thing, y'know? It's basically everything.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
Release Date: Friday, April 7
Developer: People Can Fly
Publisher: Gearbox Games
Rated: M (see the above line of dialog)
PS4, Xbox One, PC