Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Review

By Jonathan Barnes, 2 years ago
Video games are often a power fantasy that places you in the shoes of someone at the center of a universe who has to save the world, free the people, rescue a princess, or fix some other major problem that can only be solved by YOU. If YOU don't do it, the whole world/universe/family goes belly up. When People Can Fly and Epic Games released the original Bulletstorm back in 2011, they broke out of that mold. In the boots of Grayson Hunt, you're not on a quest to save the world, you're a big has-been out for revenge. Now I know what you're thinking, "Wait a minute, JB. 'Revenge' is a pretty serious thing! It's not up there with world or princess saving, but it's nothing to scoff at!"

Gimme a second, concerned reader. Yes, you are on a quest for revenge, but you're also drinking, swearing, wise-cracking, and finding the most innovative and juvenile ways to decapitate, eviscerate, castrate, and immolate enemies this side of the torture rooms of Westeros. Bulletstorm isn't to be taken seriously, but that doesn't mean that it's not serious fun. With Gearbox at the publishing helm of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, all of the same elements are present from the 2011 release with a tech tune up and few new pieces of flair for those who need a shiny new toy to convince you to reinvest.

Guess who's back.  Back again.  Grayson's back.  Let's get wasted!Guess who's back. Back again. Grayson's back. Let's get wasted!

Bulletstorm encourages you to "kill with skill" using Skillshots to reward you for creative slaying. Even better, the game endows you with a full chest of the tools for merry-making mayhem. For starters, you're equipped with a Leash that is capable of pulling enemies and objects to you from across the screen. As enemies and objects get close to you, they enter slow motion, giving you ample time to line up shots to the head, butt, or testicles as you see fit. The Leash is also upgraded with a Thumper that empowers you to send enemies and objects up into the sky, also in slow motion, so that you can line up multiple, precise shots. If you don't fancy using the Leash (but let's be honest, it should), you can also slide into or kick enemies, launching them off their feet in slow motion. With the leash, slide, and boot setting up your shots, and an armory of seven different weapons to choose from (each with an alternate, "Charged" firing mode), the options of slaying enemies are only limited by your imagination.

Bulletstorm has a database of over 130 different Skillshots to test your combat prowess. On a pure fun basis, few games in the genre can compete with conducting a full symphony of destruction by pairing all of your powers and weapons together (along with some delightful environmental hazards) to rack up points. Executing Skillshots rewards you with skillpoints that can be used at Dropkits for upgrading weapons and buying ammunition. This system creates a wonderful symbiosis — the better your skill at killing, the more toys you get.

Slow ride.  Shoot 'em easy.Slow ride. Shoot 'em easy.

The Bulletstorm campaign retains its incredible pace and fun forums for shooting. The seven acts will probably take you between 5-10 hours to complete, but you'll want to go back for more if only to unlock new skillshots and grab the two sets of collectibles that are scattered throughout the varied and lush atmospheres. As the campaign progresses, the enemy variety (and difficulty) increases. Different enemies require different tactics; some enemies cannot be leashed, some need to be kicked before they can be killed, some can only be killed by hitting weak spots. The greatest success Bulletstorm has on an enemy front is that the changes in enemy dynamics and weaknesses never feel like an unfair burden; instead they consistently feel like an exciting challenge.

Also making a return is Anarchy mode, an up-to four-player, wave-based Horde variant. It is relatively unremarkable when played with random gamers, but — like all Horde modes — truly shines when you're playing with friends and co-operating.

People Can Fly and Gearbox also made some small, and not-so-small additions to give some value to returning players. For starters the highly addictive Echo mode has a new variant that will keep players coming back for even more. The base Echoes Mode is a score challenge that tasks players with gaining as many skillpoints as they can on a small section of a campaign chapter while also imposing time bonuses and penalties. Each Echo only lasts a few minutes and, when combined with the presence of leaderboards, creates a highly addictive, "one more round" type of feel. Added into the Full Clip Edition is the "Ultimate Echoes" variant that imposes restrictions to each Echo level. These restrictions can range from weapon limitations to Skillshot limitations and scoring restrictions. In short, it basically gives the cup of coffee that is Echoes Mode an espresso chaser... and a side of Red Bull.

Big wheels keep on turnin'.  Proud Mary, GET OUT OF THE WAY!Big wheels keep on turnin'. Proud Mary, GET OUT OF THE WAY!

The most notable addition to Full Clip Edition is the preorder/DLC presence of the King, Duke Nukem. When the Full Clip Edition was announced, Gearbox and People Can Fly revealed that gamers who pre-ordered could play the campaign as Duke Nukem. Given Bulletstorm's tongue-in-cheek, highly-vulgar nature, it made perfect sense for Duke to join the fray. I had high hopes that the injection of Jon St. John's iconic baritone would combine with the love that Gearbox (for some reason) has for Duke to create a nice twist that ups the comedic and sophomoric nature of Bulletstorm. Unfortunately, this addition feels more like a square peg in a round hole.

The splicing of Duke into the game never feels quite right. Yes, he's Duke, but every other character still refers to him as Gray. Most of the lines of dialogue are the exact lines that Grayson says, but they don't sound right coming out of Duke. The few Duke specific lines that are in the game occasionally work, but more often feel forced. Finally, Duke just doesn't look right in any of the cutscenes. His mouth doesn't sync to his dialogue and anytime the character model has to interact with others, it doesn't look natural.

Hail to the King, baby?Hail to the King, baby?

Duke's presence in the game could have been exactly what the character needed to bring him back into gaming's good graces after the steaming pile that was Duke Nukem Forever. If Gearbox and People Can Fly had taken a bit more care with his inclusion, perhaps broken the fourth wall a bit more to recognize the beyond ridiculous nature of inserting Duke into the story, it could have been amazing fun. Instead, it feels like a wasted opportunity all the way around. If anything, Bulletstorm's initial excellence only shines a light on just how poorly Duke has been handled and just how good it/he could be if given the proper care.

Duke's failed inclusion also brings to light an issue that I try to stay away from in reviews: the price. Full Clip Edition is currently being sold at full retail price, which feels tremendously overpriced given recent remasters like Dishonored Definitive Edition, Batman: Return to Arkham, BioShock: The Collection, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition were either priced below full-retail and/or included a ton of DLC. Even after paying full price, you'll have to shell out an additional $5 (or your regional equivalent) to unlock Duke's campaign.

Ishi, I can tell that we are gonna be friends... when the AI in your head isn't trying to kill me.Ishi, I can tell that we are gonna be friends... when the AI in your head isn't trying to kill me.

On a technical/remaster front, the Full Clip Edition doesn't quite hit full marks. While the game itself has never looked better, there are occasional framerate slowdowns and the odd soft freeze that requires a game restart. Fortunately, these hiccups are few and far between, but they're disappointing nonetheless.

On the achievement front, Full Clip Edition retains almost all of the achievements from the original release... which is a good thing. The wide variety of achievements encourages experimentation in single-player and Echoes Mode and will encourage you to keep playing without feeling truly punitive. On the flip side, there are also achievements tied to the multiplayer Anarchy Mode, so you'll want to have a few friends with whom to grind. It won't be an easy, quick completion, but it will be a satisfying and fun one.

Summary

Bulletstorm is still as good as it ever was. It's fast, fluid, highly vulgar, and incredibly addictive. In a world of hyper-serious shooters, Bulletstorm stands out as an oasis of non-serious fun and is head-and-shoulders above its competition... Duke included. Fans of shooters who missed out in 2011 are highly encouraged to pick up this remaster as it is going to be the best way to play through the exploits of Grayson, Ishi, and Trishka. That being said, if you've already played the original and aren't aching to be knee deep in viscera and vulgarity, there's not a lot here to encourage a second go, especially at the current price point. We wanted more and the post-credits stinger does a nice job of setting up a potential sequel. Here's to hoping that we get another round of nom juice and some more taints to shoot.
4 / 5
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
Positives
  • Still amazingly fun game/gun play
  • The sophomoric humor is gleefully profane
  • Looks and feels great
  • Echoes Mode is still addictive and fun
Negatives
  • Occasional slowdowns and visual freezes
  • Full retail price... really?
  • Duke Nukem feels like a square peg in a round hole
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 24 hours playing through the campaign as Grayson and Duke Nukem while getting sucked back into Echoes and Anarchy modes. Along the way, he popped 30 of the 60 achievements, unlocked 100% of the Skillshots, and chuckled like Beavis and/or Butthead more times than are appropriate. An Xbox One copy of the main game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, while the reviewer personally purchased the Duke Nukem DLC.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.