“Bulletstorm” is the video game equivalent of a mindless action blockbuster movie – and that’s not an insult. A wealth of dirty language, extreme violence and good ol’ fashioned shoot-‘em-up warfare lies beneath a paper-thin excuse of a storyline. Curse words and sexual innuendo saturate the dialogue, like hearing children discover swearing during a playground scuffle. The game offers several ridiculously heavy-duty weapons to clear out rampaging hoards of enemies, and the Skillshots scoring system rewards the player for being creative with kills.
Like any action movie, “Bulletstorm” touts a laughable attempt at a plot. Protagonist Grayson Hunt works for the military in an elite unit called Dead Echo, under the command of the sociopathic General Sarrano. After one crooked mission too many, Grayson realizes the work he and Dead Echo do may just not be for the greater good, so he decides he’s going to take Sarrano out. This involves an explosive head-on collision of spaceships, leading to a crash on the abandoned planet Stygia. Stygia is the main setting for the game, and its post-apocalyptic ruins are lovingly detailed down to the last cancerous pustule on a mutant’s face. The explanation for the former Las Vegas-like planet’s terrible ruination is quickly tacked on: the convicts in charge decided to rebel, so they turned off the planetary radiation filters and attempted to escape in the chaos. The plan did not quite work out as one would hope; Stygia’s plant life has evolved into carnivorous monstrosities, and humans themselves have been forced down one of two paths: stereotypical radioactive mutant or stereotypical apocalyptic survivor. In this ruined paradise, Grayson must survive long enough to escape.
Grayson is not alone in his adventures on Stygia. The AI-driven tank character, Ishi Sato, is a cyborg. His mechanical enhancements make battle a little easier for progression – in theory. Truthfully, the AI is clumsy in battle, often stealing kills or outright stealing cover from the player and making fights longer and more frustrating than they ought to be. An optimist might take the AI’s faults as a challenge to face fights alone and be as creative with Skillshots as possible, but for everyone else it is a crippling drawback. Controls are simple enough, though it takes focus and coordination to achieve the more intricate Skillshots.
“Bulletstorm” sports top-of-the-line graphics and animation, lushly depicting Stygia and those that inhabit it. Stygia is also a by-the-book paradise lost – players looking for original thought in this game will be sadly disappointed. The dialogue is rife with wince-worthy one liners, but the voice acting is so enthusiastic that this can be overlooked. What action movie doesn’t have terrible dialogue, after all? Bulletstorm truly is an action movie for the gamer world. It’s full of explosions, vengeance, violence, blood, and more immature swears than you can shake a stick at. It might not be the most cerebral game to come out in 2011, but it’s worth taking a chance on.
“Bulletstorm” is rated M for blood and gore, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual themes, strong language, and use of alcohol. It was released February 22nd for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, priced at $59.99.