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Discussion The Patient Gamer - BulletStorm - A Big Dumb Shooter

GodisanAtheist

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Nov 16, 2006
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I recently completed a run through of BulletStorm, an X360 era, Unreal Engine based shooter from People Can Fly, the same guys that made the recent Outriders game that had it's 15 minutes of Fame a couple months ago.

Bulletstorm is, and I say this with the utmost admiration for the game, a big dumb shooter. I am literally stupider after having played this game. It has what I call the "Bro-Shooter" aesthetic that we've come to know and love from other Unreal Engine type games, typically those made by Epic themselves.

You know exactly what I am talking about: every character is built like a gym creampuff, swollen with muscles. Characters all talk like they just stumbled out of a frat party, swearing, racist jokes all over the place, their only form of communication is some idiotic form of verbal sparring. There is the requisit "tougher than the guys cause she has to be" over sexed female lead. The "I'm over this ****" no nonsense side kick. And the main character is the classic "idiot with a heart of gold" trope.

I really liked BulletStorm. I really did. I'm not just saying that because I've been mentally handicapped to the level of a lobotomized chimp after listening to this game's dialogue.

You're Grayson, a grizzled veteran of Dead Echo, a special forces unit in some far future space empire that has been carrying out special operations for one General Serrano. During one mission, you discover that the targets you've been sent to eliminate are actually Serrano's political rivals and journalists working to uncover his corruption. Of course, your squad rebels and become outlaws until a chance encounter leaves you stranded on an apocalyptic alien world full of gangs, mutants, monsters and other crazy stuff.

Bulletstorm gets a couple things very, very right as a shooter that are is saving graces. That, dare I say it, make it a good or even great shooter.

First, are skillshots. This is the core mechanic of the whole game: you as a player earn points for dispatching enemies in interesting or unique ways using your weapons, the leash (an energy lasso thing), your mighty foot, or a combination of all the above. Think of a sort of Devil May Cry meets FPS sort of thing. For example, you leash an enemy pulling them toward you, kick them upward to get underneath them, then hit em with a rocket to launch them into the stratosphere. You get 10 points for the base kill, +500 points for the "Stratostreak" skillshot. It's a fun system that's tuned just right to reward creative gameplay without suddenly becoming the focus of it.

Second, is weapon design. Bulletstorm goes back to the old days of having fun with FPS weapon designs and it's such a breath of fresh air. Each weapon has a standard fire more and a secondary fire, which can be radically different than the first and draws on its own ammo pool. Some of the highlights include one of the most fun sniper rifles I've ever encountered (you steer the bullet to the target, sometimes almost comically getting the bullet to do u-turns and curve around corners), a shotgun that has a charge shot that completely ignores cover, and a grenade launcher that launches what can only be described as an explosive soccer ball that explodes every time it bounces that you then kick and leash around the combat arena reigning death on your enemies.

The game has bosses, and the bosses are fun, fair, and we'll designed. The game also has some solid set pieces which are a fair bit of fun and break up the run and gun a bit.

Lastly, the game gets out of its own way and let's you use the prior two points. All the good things about Bulletstorm could have been ruined if you're not allowed to take risks, but thankfully Grayson can absorb a truly outstanding level of gunfire before succumbing to his injuries. Duck into cover for 5 seconds and pop out as good as new, no health packs or anything else. Everyone praises Doom 2016 for it's "action forward" gameplay, and while Bulletstorm is not quite as refined, it promotes a similar style of high stakes get out of cover and take the action to them play style.

Of course there is then the bad elements of the game. As an X360 era shooter, the game is god damn littered with hidden loading screens. Often you cannot go more than 50 feet before you have to hit the interact button with something to slow down your progress and let the game load in the next section. Level design is of the same pedigree, from an era of pretty corridor shooters, we get a pretty corridor shooter.

And of course, there is the dialogue, which is so painful it had to be deliberate. The writers were clearly aware of what they were doing, the "straight man" side kick has plenty of commentary on how incredibly stupid the main character is, but that doesn't make it any less bearable to listen to. After a while, you actually start to like the low brow humor and idiotic banter... Which is concerning and I should probably see a neurologist.

Anyhow...

If you like shooters and are looking for something unique that actually tries to add to the genre, get BulletStorm. It's dirt cheap now, likely runs well on a potato, it's reasonably short (comes in at ~10 hours, but with a lot of challenge modes etc in the full clip edition that would add a decent amount of playtime).
 
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DAPUNISHER

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Sold! As soon as I saw it was a Cliffy B game I was in. Gears is one of my favorite series all time. Got it for $6 on Ebay with Duke Nukem DLC. And I already have TBI from being punched, kicked, and dropped on my head, most my life. Hence, my mental faculties can't get much worse.
 
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GodisanAtheist

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Ahhhh Cliffy B explains a lot. I had always associated him with Epic and the Unreal Engine, to the point where I thought he was the Epic guy (maybe he was until he branched off). Basically he and Tim Sweeny had formed some sort of chimera in my mind.
 

DAPUNISHER

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Ah I see I bought the remastered version. Looks like it adds a lot to the OG version. The overkill mode should make a replay worthwhile.
 

DAPUNISHER

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I was wrong, so very very wrong. In my hubris, I thought my brain damage too severe for this game to exacerbate it. The dialogue has me craving a 64 count box of crayons for a snack. Would that the gaming forum allowed foul language so I could share some of the crayon craving lines these voice actors were paid to recite. It is James Rolfe aka AVGN level of crude and nonsensical.

Gears is baked in to its DNA; character models, weapon models, art design, gameplay mechanics, verbal barbs. But this game has suffered from the inbreeding, it is the banjo playing cousin of Gears.

There is no learning curve, and the controls are so simple it is obviously designed to be played with a controller. When I do the Duke tour, I will use my bt Xbox series controller. Because I think the lack of feedback is depriving me of a potentially satisfying experience with some of the weapons. Nothing has the rewarding feel of the chainsaw on the lancer. But I always play gears with a controller, so I will report back if it helps.

Who do I fight for adding the cheap knock off Wolverine protagonist? Slightly different manscaping, but they went full in otherwise. Hell, you even get his healing factor.

Some of the tropes and gameplay immediately harken to gears. The rager dudes that all bum rush you are the wretches from gears. In that, instead of shooting them, it is best to melee them. Aim for their glowy blisters or whatev the girl says. Why? When I can line them all up and kick them into something for a Voodoo doll or Environ-MENTAL. See what they did there, ain't that clever?

The repeated collapses and level designs that result in sliding down ramps is a classic Gears trope. Even the mini and big bosses, are the special needs cousins of the Gears bosses. There is even a quasi-Brumak. The bad guy is colonel Hoffman, if he was a crackhead that was jonesing hard.

I am near the end of the game now, and what occurred to me, was that this could have been the Duke Nukem game that took forever. Duke, instead of being DLC, should have been player one, not Wolvie. Skin the baddies as the pigs and such, tweak some of the weapons, adjust the main story arc to fit the Duke universe, no subplots, and call it a wrap. I will let you know if Duke and his legendary trash talk, which is a collection of 80s action movies works the way I am hoping it does. As the rest of it feels like a Duke meets the Gears game anyways. Honestly, that is a crossover I would like to play.

I just convinced myself, this is the real Duke Nukem Forever, not that hot mess, that bore the title. And while this game is a hard fail for me playing as Wolvie without the claws. I hope to return after being the Duke, to confirm it is a worthy sequel in the Duke franchise, despite it being a terrible game by any other measurement.
 
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GodisanAtheist

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Nov 16, 2006
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I was wrong, so very very wrong. In my hubris, I thought my brain damage too severe for this game to exacerbate it. The dialogue has me craving a 64 count box of crayons for a snack. Would that the gaming forum allowed foul language so I could share some of the crayon craving lines these voice actors were paid to recite. It is James Rolfe aka AVGN level of crude and nonsensical.
- No kidding, I can only imagine the VAs being like "Wait, is this a typo or do you actually want me to read this?!"

Gears is baked in to its DNA; character models, weapon models, art design, gameplay mechanics, verbal barbs. But this game has suffered from the inbreeding, it is the banjo playing cousin of Gears.

There is no learning curve, and the controls are so simple it is obviously designed to be played with a controller. When I do the Duke tour, I will use my bt Xbox series controller. Because I think the lack of feedback is depriving me of a potentially satisfying experience with some of the weapons. Nothing has the rewarding feel of the chainsaw on the lancer. But I always play gears with a controller, so I will report back if it helps.
- Yes, "Gears is baked into its DNA" is the perfect way of describing it. While Gears (last I played it) does take itself seriously, it feels like BS (wow, what an abbreviation) waffles back and forth between big dumb shooter and big dumb serious shooter, not really knowing where to settle.

Who do I fight for adding the cheap knock off Wolverine protagonist? Slightly different manscaping, but they went full in otherwise. Hell, you even get his healing factor.

Some of the tropes and gameplay immediately harken to gears. The rager dudes that all bum rush you are the wretches from gears. In that, instead of shooting them, it is best to melee them. Aim for their glowy blisters or whatev the girl says. Why? When I can line them all up and kick them into something for a Voodoo doll or Environ-MENTAL. See what they did there, ain't that clever?

The repeated collapses and level designs that result in sliding down ramps is a classic Gears trope. Even the mini and big bosses, are the special needs cousins of the Gears bosses. There is even a quasi-Brumak. The bad guy is colonel Hoffman, if he was a crackhead that was jonesing hard.
- Indeed, the corridor shooter is strong with this one, along with the fan-favorite-ever-classic "not sure how to make the story or level progress, so lets just make the protag fall through a floor and start the next action sequence" style of level design.


I am near the end of the game now,
- Someone call this man an ambulance.


and what occurred to me, was that this could have been the Duke Nukem game that took forever. Duke, instead of being DLC, should have been player one, not Wolvie. Skin the baddies as the pigs and such, tweak some of the weapons, adjust the main story arc to fit the Duke universe, no subplots, and call it a wrap. I will let you know if Duke and his legendary trash talk, which is a collection of 80s action movies works the way I am hoping it does. As the rest of it feels like a Duke meets the Gears game anyways. Honestly, that is a crossover I would like to play.

I just convinced myself, this is the real Duke Nukem Forever, not that hot mess, that bore the title. And while this game is a hard fail for me playing as Wolvie without the claws. I hope to return after being the Duke, to confirm it is a worthy sequel in the Duke franchise, despite it being a terrible game by any other measurement.
-Indeed, the main character is basically Duke Nukem + a soul. Coulda just scrapped all the character development with Grayson and gone "full retard" if you will and it would have basically been a better DNF than DNF.
 
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