Bulletstorm Review

Bulletstorm is at once both a wildly original and enjoyable shooter, and a cliché ridden retread of just about every average shooter you've ever played. You play as Grayson Hunt, a mercenary working for The Confederation of Planets' General Sarrano. During an operation, Hunt comes to the realization that he's been the tool of an evil megalomaniac, something that Hunt took years to figure out but which you'll see coming minutes into the opening cinematic. Hell-bent for revenge, Hunt and his mercenary squad mates eventually catch up to Sarrano in orbit around the planet Stygia. Heavily outgunned and outmatched but overflowing with testosterone and alcohol-fueled bravado, Hunt orders a disastrous attack that ends in a kamikaze run that sends both ships down to the planet's surface. This is where you take over, accompanied by your newly cyborgized colleague you must hunt down Sarrano and finally take your revenge.

The mislead mercenary out for revenge storyline doesn't win a lot of points for originality, nor do the characters that populate it. The dialog is typical action movie tripe, albeit impressively laden with obscenities. The one bright spot is Hunt's companion Ishi, who's body has been peppered with cyborg implants to save his life from a catastrophic injury. His internal struggle between his humanity and the cyborg AI intent on taking over and running the show leads to some interesting moments, but it's not nearly developed enough to realize its potential.

All that aside, what saves Bulletstorm from being just another clichéd shooter are its gameplay mechanics and weapons, central to all of which is its "kill with skill" system. While you can certainly kill enemies in the traditional way, doing so will yield only a paltry number of skill points. And since skill points are the currency with which you buy weapon upgrades and ammo, you'll want to earn as many as you can. Besides, it's a lot more fun to kill with skill.

The game has a huge number of skill shots to discover and try to accomplish, some of which are general things like headshots to others that are tied to specific weapons or things in the environment. Aiding your quest for non-pedestrian kills is the rather simple but underutilized in shooters action of kicking. You can kick enemies off of cliffs and into rivers, or into livewires for a little enemy fricassee. It's also useful for setting up other skill shots since once punted into the air enemies move in slow motion, giving you the opportunity to be really precise with your follow-up attack. Another useful tool in your box is your energy leash, which proves to be a pretty useful aid for skill killing. You can use it to lasso distant enemies and bring them flying towards you, again in slow motion. Leash an enemy while standing behind a spiked fence, and you'll speed him towards his sheesh kabob doom. Or you can latch on to a heavy object and bring it crashing down on your foes. You can also power it up so that it can slam into the ground, sending any nearby enemies helplessly into the air for you to pick off at your leisure. There are plenty of possibilities, and it's plenty of fun trying to discover them all.