If I had to choose one word to describe Bulletstorm, it would be FUN in capital letters. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed every minute of this game, which leaves me disappointed there is no sequel on the horizon. Apparently, even though Bulletstorm received high critical marks, it did not sell well enough to suit the publishers. It also had some slight negative publicity because of the mature content. In fact, I avoided buying this game for quite some time because of its supposed over-the-top crudeness, but weighing on the opposite side were the users saying how good it was. So eventually I did purchase it and found that the content, although for a mature audience, is by no means as bad as some have made out. Much of it is quite in keeping with the characters and, if not taken too seriously, very amusing at times. It's obviously not meant to be viewed as some moral yardstick, but if you're a bit of a stickler, I guess you could find some of it offensive.
As to gameplay, like I said, it's fun, fun, and more fun. You play the character Grayson Hunt, leader of an elite black ops squad called Dead Echo. You're commanding officer, General Sarrano, has been sending your team to perform hits on supposed criminals and subversives. However, on your lastest assignment to kill Bryce Novak, you uncover Sarrano''s treachery by learning that all the people your squad was ordered to kill have, in fact, been innocent civilians. This discovery results in Dead Echo going rogue and becoming the target of bounty hunters. Hunt and his team turn to space piracy to survive and after ten years on the run, Gray is no less obsessed with killing Sarrano. When his space cruiser crosses paths with the General's battlecruiser, Ulysses, he siezes the opportunity to ram it, causing both ships to crash land on the resort planet Stygia.
One of Gray's crew, Ishi, is severely injured and after a short mission to find a power cell for the medical bay, they are attacked by Sarrano's Final Echo squad and most of the crew is killed. Gray survives and finds Ishi is also still alive due to the cybernetics implants he received in sick bay before all hell broke loose. The only way off the planet is to find Sarrano to catch a ride on the rescue ship being sent for him. Although Gray thirsts for revenge, Ishi insists they need him alive. While travelling through hostile territory to reach Sarrano, they also find the planet overrun by mutants. When the duo meets up with Trishka, a commander of Final Echo, they discover that the mutations are a result of the release of toxic byproducts that infected and spread throughout the entire population of Stygia. The three form an uneasy alliance and team up to reach the rescue location.
Bulletstorm's focus is on single-player and the team member AI integration is some of the best I've seen. They can actually do damage and kill stuff. There are a fair variety of weapons, but melee combat is also emphasized, adding to the fun and games through kicking and sliding mechanics. There is also a tool called the leash, which not only functions as a weapon, but can be attached to objects to clear barriers. As Stygia was used as a combat training facility, the leash is explained as a way that the wearer's performance could be recorded and processed. Ingame, this feature assigns skillpoints for killing opponents in creative and unique ways, which are often tied to the use of specific weapons. Points can then be spent on purchasing additional weapons and upgrades as they become unlocked at dropkits .
One thing I apreciate about first/third person shooters is that generally the control system is simple and Bulletstrom fits the bill with moves that are a perfect balance for melee and weaponry combat. I really don't know if I've seen another game put together so efficiently. During this fast-paced shooter, you never have to stop and think what key to push to execute combos. It's just so intuitive.
If you're a graphics junky, you will not find anything to complain about in this game, but it did intially have a few problems, so check out tweaks for some potential solutions. I had no issues myself and the whole game ran smooth as butter on my system. However, in saying that, I played this game a long time after its release when typically many bugs have been fixed. Apparently, even the president of Epic Games admits it was a crappy port and blames this and piracy for the lacklustre sales. However, in my opinion, if you combine a buggy PC release, rumors of always online Drm, which were false, overblown drama about content, and a game that uses GFWL, you have a recipe for disaster.
Although this is a squad based game suitable for co-op, there is surprisingly no campaign co-op mode. Instead there are Echo maps available, which are areas of the game with the goal of racking up skillpoints for the leaderboards in timed trials. You can play Echo offline if you wish. There is also Anarchy, a multiplayer mode, which allows up to four players. However, this mode is pretty dead as seems to be the pattern with many games that have muiltiplayer modes tacked on to what are essentially single-player games.
Although Bulletstorm does have DLC, it no longer seems to be available for PC. Since the closing of Games for Windows Marketplace (not to be confused with GFWL), neither Microsoft nor EA Origin are offering it. There is some question as to whether this game will survive due to the rumors of GFWL closing in July of 2014, but I've included it in Features in the hopes it will still be playable beyond that. Unfortunately, Microsoft and developers in general are being very circumspect with any information regarding the rumor of GFWL closure.UPDATE Dec 2016: In very good news for fans, Bulletstorm will be getting a remaster called The Full Clip Edition. Unfortunately, however, current owners of the game will not be getting a free update. The release is scheduled for April 2017 featuring all previously-released content, a new "Overkill Campaign Mode", six new levels for Echo Mode, plus updated visuals and remastered audio effects.