In the sea of generic shooter sequels, it is nice to see that the development of wholly original concepts isn't entirely dead - Bulletstorm works as an example. Developed by Epic Games and Epic-owned Polish studio, People Can Fly, the team best known for Painkiller, Bulletstorm is a first person shooter that happily tosses excess realism overboard and aims to be mindless fun above anything else.
Sure, there is also a story of sorts that gives a reason for the ma 227c ssive body count. You play as Grayson Hunt (Space Pirate), a member of elite black-ops squad that went private after finding out that the unit was being used as a tool to kill innocents and assassinate whistleblowers rather than to take out troublesome criminals. The opening that is used to set up the story eats up at least 30 minutes and is a mixture of cutscenes and "gameplay" where you are forced to follow carefully scripted steps as if dragged around with a leash. While it provides a clear step-by-step introduction to all the gameplay elements and explains how you end up on a planet filled with mutants, criminals and monsters, it also means you don't really get to play the game for a good while. It stays interesting the first time you play but along the way you may end up wondering when the real action would actually start.
Luckily the action eventually does start and once it does, there is no end to the non-stop mayhem. The trailer paints a somewhat serious image over the whole affair, yet there are some bits that show the true colors of Bulletstorm - the juvenile language of the trailer and liberal amounts of flying body parts are your clues. In fact, Bulletstorm is an interesting case of mixed messages; At times it acts as if it were a completely serious affair, only to turn the knob to "silly fun" two minutes later. The resulting mix is a tasty semi-parody of a Gears of War-style cover-based shooter that never goes wholly "Serious Sam" with the material. Humor is hard to do right and at times it is hard to say if the goal was to elicit facepalms or laughs with a particular story twist or event, yet Bulletstorm did manage to keep me smiling all the way and the action and difficulty level kept ramping up nicely.
Beyond the fresh angle on the action, Bulletstorm is a strictly scripted and linear cover-based shooter where any amount of punishment can be shrugged off by hiding behind an obstacle for a few seconds. There is also plenty of quick time events - to a degree that at times it becomes annoying as major fights are reduced into a couple of button presses and a cutscene. Luckily interest level is kept up with varied play areas and pretty visuals. Unlike Gears of War, you are mostly playing in bright daylight and action is paced fairly well with surprises around every corner. Sadly Bulletstorm doesn't even try to hide the fact that the single player mode is completely disposable entertainment. You might play it twice if you insist on collecting every skillshot and achievement but that's about it - it is a rollercoaster ride, not a long-term source of entertainment.
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