Have You Played… Bulletstorm?

That'll be a slide-kick into the catcus. 100 murderdollars.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

You could just shoot a man to death in Bulletstorm, but it’d reveal a horrible lack of imagination. The game would sneer and dole out a measly 10 murderdollars. Try harder. Slide into a man to launch them up in slow-mo then shoot them to death and you’ll get 25. You can do better. Wrap explosives around a man, kick him into the air, then detonate him to murder a pal of his and you’ll get, gosh, lots of points – more if the blast also knocks others onto spikes, into man-eating plants, or other horrible environmental traps. It’s some of the most fun shooty-shoots I’ve had in years.

With giant guns, environmental traps, a man-grabbing laser whip, and mighty kick and slide moves that launch enemies into slow-motion, surviving in Bulletstorm is easy. And boring. If you just shoot men, Bulletstorm is any generic FPS from the past decade, albeit one with a pleasingly daft story. Scoring high is the real challenge. It’s got dozens of special ‘skillshot‘ kills, where killing people in certain ways bags you extra points. You’ll avoid killing someone until you’ve figured out the best way to murder them, carefully getting groups into place for a chain of high-scoring skillshots.

A tale of revenge against your former commander is typical modern fare FPS, but Bulletstorm plays it so very camp. The antagonist is a spittle-spraying fury, your best mate gets turned into a cyborg with anger issues, and your new ally threatens to “kill your dicks” when you first meet her then berates you as you bumble around, solving everything with shooting. It’s a merry romp from set piece to set piece, big fancy things like blowing a dam and controlling a theme park’s laser-spitting robot Godzilla.

In another developer’s hands, Bulletstorm could have been so very obnoxious, but People Can Fly committed to pull off cussin’, murderin’, and dick-killing chat with confidence. And it has a quadruple-barrelled shotgun that can blast men in half.

51 Comments

  1. PikaBot says:

    I’ve played through Bulletstorm no fewer than three times, and it’s still one of my favorite games of the past ten years. Bizarrely, the narrative layer is actually one of my favorite parts about it. It’s gloriously dumb, yes, but it’s also a a very smart kind of dumb, and works on more levels than may be immediately apparent.

    • Skeletor68 says:

      Completely agree.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah it was such a breath of fresh air. I literally sat down and started playing it around Midnight and other than pee breaks didn’t move until I had finished the game. It’s been a long while since I’ve done that with a game but it was just constantly satisfying coming up with different ways to kill things.

    • gnodab says:

      Gosh yes!
      Bulletstorm and Painkiller are still the only post 90s shooters for me.
      Just so, so good.

  2. Michael Fogg says:

    Yes! A story-driven FPS with a complex skill shot system…! Oh, wait. Wait. I was thinking of The Darkness II.

    • Jalan says:

      Bulletstorm loses countless points for having no Mike Patton presence.

  3. Anthile says:

    It is a beautiful game. Although it seems pretty dumb at first it actually is very much inspired by Moby Dick – if Moby Dick had guns, was set in space and wasn’t about whales.
    In terms of gameplay it was arguably the best shooter since the original FEAR and it has only been surpassed by the Shadow Warrior remake.

    • Detocroix says:

      And if Moby Dick was literally Moby being a dick.

      Bulletstorm is great :D

  4. DarkeSword says:

    One of the best things about Bulletstorm is its own self-awareness regarding the profanity. There’s a hilarious bit where Jennifer Hale’s character utters a particularly complex string of profanities, to which the main character replies “What the fuck does that even mean?! That does mean anything!”

    • PsychoWedge says:

      She says “If you shitpiles give chase I’ll kill your dicks!” and after the what-does-that-mean-bit he screams “You”re gonna kill my dick? I’ll kill your dick! How about that, huh?” It’s one of the greatest moments in all of fps-gaming. xD

      Bulletstorm is basically the anti-thesis of CoD, I think. It’s fun, it’s colourful, it’s beautiful, it’s got crazy creative and impressive environments, it’s genuinely humorous, it doesn’t take itself too serious and is self-aware enough to acknowledge its own ridiculousness, it still has drama in it and it fully embraces the weirdness that is running around and shooting thousands of enemies.

      You just have a blast while running through it. One of the most fun games I’ve ever played in all my decades of gaming…

      • Rakombo says:

        Well,it has at least few things in common with COD,just from the top of my head:
        1.Dumb story.
        2.Repetitive and shallow gameplay.
        3.Linear hallwayesque level design.
        4.Dumb AI.

    • Xocrates says:

      That’s something I found quite fun as well, Particularly because despite the fact that the marketing hyped up the creative swearing, the game was the first one to call out how stupid that actually was.

  5. Eight Rooks says:

    I have, and I liked it, but I didn’t buy into the idea of it as this glorious, wittily profane mess. I thought the script was mediocre for the most part, the jokes just weren’t that funny, and the skill system never really tempted me to get better. Excellent art direction and it was fun to play, but I found, say, Vanquish just as visually spectacular (arguably more so), a far better game – more challenging and engaging – and the kind of mechanical systems that did actually tempt me back to try and do better (I still hadn’t finished my no deaths playthrough before I sold my PS3 ;_; ). Bulletstorm is/was good, IMO, but I can’t help but think an awful lot of the critical acclaim just sounded like “My goodness, isn’t it so delightfully wacky?” and nothing much deeper than that.

    • Xocrates says:

      Bulletstorm lives in the same state as Mirror’s Edge. They’re wonderful ideas that almost work, so people remember them as better games than they actually are.

      That said, the only real problem I had with Bulletstorm was how limited the skill system was. As much as it brags about creative kills, the truth was that if you did something truly impressive and creative the game would fail to recognize it and give you the “kill a guy” 10 points.

      • montorsi says:

        Or they’re ideas that work for other people. I thought it was just OK but I don’t have to trivialize the feelings of others when I say that.

        • Xocrates says:

          I’m not trying to trivialize anyone’s feelings. It’s entirely possible to love things that are actually quite terrible, so long as they push all the right buttons, this does not mean you can’t recognize them as terrible.

          Loving flawed but hugely interesting things? That’s not only entirely normal, but expected.

  6. SimulatedMan says:

    Can I play… Bulletstorm? Bought it in a sale a while back and when I got around to installing it gfwl was dead/dying and the game won’t let me past the gfwl login screen. There is supposedly a way to get past it, but a lot of descriptions point to dead links for various versions of the gfwl client.
    Anybody have any luck playing the game recently and if so, how?
    Thanks

    • lomaxgnome says:

      You probably need to fully install/upgrade GFWL from the website. But as annoying as that may be, if you want to play this, do that sooner rather than later, because once GFWL finally dies, Bulletstorm will be completely unplayable, and there’s been no announced plans to fix that.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Until we’re rid of GFWL or it becomes not-horrible, I’ll wait to get Bulletstorm. I have many other old-school FPS games in that vein waiting for me.

        • cthulhie says:

          I tentatively have just gotten it working after probably 30 minutes of fussing with the GFWL client. It is both no surprise and yet mind-boggling that this is the least amount of time I’ve had to spend to get a GFWL game to work on the first run. For reference, I:
          -logged into the Microsoft live website and accepted their new terms of service (which, bafflingly, you can’t do through the client and is likely what kept it from running for me)
          -downloaded the most recent version of the GFWL client outside of the game and installed it, then logged in (I don’t think this had any effect–it appears that it’s a separate install)
          -ran Bulletstorm and then logged into the GFWL client.

          It finally allowed the login (I believe it was the ToS acceptance), then redownloaded the update, allowed me to log in, redownloaded my entire profile, allowed me to reenter the CD key to authorize the game again. Every time I go through this I feel like I’m living out a satire.

          Damn you, RPS, for making me go through this. But as lomaxgnome noted–we’re looking at the last chance to play it before GFWL goes the way of the dodo. So while I totally appreciate the decision to not deal with it, I’ll say it’s probably worth trying to just accept the new ToS outside the game and see if that solves the issue. If so, the rest of the steps are paint-by-number irritations that shouldn’t require troubleshooting.

      • zentropy says:

        Thank god for piracy then.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        Oh right, now I remember what the worst part of Bulletstorm was.

        • Gruuber says:

          Anyone know if the multiplayer still works for this? I had a look before but couldn’t find any servers; I couldn’t tell if it was because of GTWL or because no one plays it multiplayer any more.

          • Mutak says:

            Egads – the multiplayer! The mode where you played cooperatively to get the most skillkill points? That was kind of genius. Enemies were not obstacles to overcome – they were a resource to be carefully expended. Turned the game into a fprts.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      At the end of the day if the game won’t let you play it after purchasing it because of shitty GFWL I’d have absolutely zero moral quandary about torrenting the game, someone will have hacked it to get around that crap.

    • zarathustra says:

      goo.gl/ryd6sC
      Just drop the contents into Steam\SteamApps\common\Bulletstorm\Binaries\Win32 and you’re good to go.

      =]

  7. Monchberter says:

    One of the best things about it, despite it being tagged as a corridor shooter was the sheer sense of scale it effortlessly evoked.

    Landscape obliterating giant sized mining machinery wheeling after you. Kaiju sized Godzilla monsters. A vertical walk down a skyscraper. An immense crashed spaceship spewing fire.

    Parts of Bulletstorm ‘feel’ as expansive as Skyrim.

  8. REDDQ says:

    Bulletstorm was pure fun, not bound by anything. I really like games like that, because of craziness they are quite unpredictable.

    Things to remember Bulletstorm for:
    1. I loved triggering new ways of killing enemies.
    2. General Sorrano. Story wasn’t some big, important part of Bulletstorm but for god’s sake that was one mean and crazy bastard. link to youtu.be
    3. Duty Calls. link to youtu.be

    • Ben says:

      ***Total Biscuit warning on that Duty Call vid***

      • Bull0 says:

        He’s so edgy and cool, calling out the self-evident advergame as a “BLATANT MARKETING PLOY”. Well, of course it fucking is, it’s marketing, you weirdo.

      • gnodab says:

        TB warning?

        He’s the best thing that happened to games media since Kieron Gillen! How is that a problem?

        • montorsi says:

          Rather not click on links to an utterly shameless shill for a certain subculture in gaming.

          • gnodab says:

            Oh, that is were we are now?!
            That is a shame, but sure who wants discussion when you can have trench warfare…

            But for anybody who might want to go totally wild and listen to a conversation, I’d recommend his interview with Rhianna Pratchett.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            I, for one, appreciate the warning. I’m not willing to donate views to him so long as he’s actively supporting and smokescreening that movement.

            This isn’t about trench warfare. Like most boycotts, it’s about economics. If you don’t like what a busines is doing, then you refuse to buy their goods until they stop doing that.

          • Axess Denyd says:

            OK, I literally have no idea what we’re talking about here. What is he doing?

            I used to watch all of his stuff, but lately he has done less of interest to me so I have stopped watching.

          • Distec says:

            Don’t worry about it, Axess.

            We don’t like him because we like to think our own shit doesn’t stink.

      • Distec says:

        This is absolutely pathetic.

        So we now need to volunteer disclaimers in case somebody might accidentally be exposed to Total Biscuit. Man, fuck that guy and everything he has ever said on anything.

  9. Radiant says:

    I REALLY wanted it to have a separate scoring arena mode where you could try out combos and score build in ever elaborate enemy/environment setups.

    Sort of like Ninja Gaidens Black’s missions.

    That way you could then go back again to the main story mode and really cut lose.

    But I got a really fun game instead.

  10. Freud says:

    I thought the central gimmick got old real fast and it felt more like trying to cross off items on a list than creative experimentation.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Yeah I didn’t enjoy this one bit. Got maybe an hour or two in before I couldn’t take anymore. The dialogue was dreadful and completely unfunny, thought the shooting was very unsatisfying, and for lack of a better description, ‘unreal-enginey’. And the levels were so linear, obnoxious invisible walls to the left and right of you almost constantly. Ah well, I had a lot of fun with SS3, and Painkiller!

      • bleeters says:

        The shooting was pretty pants. That said, I hardly ever actually used my gun.

  11. Stellar Duck says:

    When I finished this game I desperately wanted a sequel so the story could go on.

    I still do. The story was so so good.

  12. Rakombo says:

    I hate this game,I found it painfully boring that might be due to my own expectations or lack of skill but goddamn is it boring. I was expecting a fun run and gun game with some added ridiculousness. I don’t remember what difficulty I played it on,probably the highest one,I was spending more time in cover waiting for the red jelly on screen to disappear than I did shooting. The weapons trade potency for wackiness even the shotgun felt anemic. The only effective way to kill people is with environmentals something that gets old fast.

    • fish99 says:

      If you just play it as a plain shooter, you’ll struggle and probably not enjoy it. Of course maximum difficulty doesn’t help either, that can turn any game into a chore.

  13. Premium User Badge

    syllopsium says:

    Couldn’t stand this game. There wasn’t enough novelty and more importantly it was far too easy to run out of ammo. For a game that revels in the ability to shoot stuff, that’s a bit of a flaw. I got bored before even finishing the demo.

    Perhaps it’s due to my lack of skill, but it was hardly a serious fps anyway..

  14. Deccan says:

    Bulletstorm joined the very exclusive club of “games I had to pause because I was laughing so hard”.

    Also, actual character development in an FPS. How about that.

    Sniper rifle was a piece of crap, though, and the sections where you’re forced to use it really dragged,

    • Skeletor68 says:

      Yup, sniper rifle ruined the pace. All the slo-mo and bullet bending was boring as hell.

      • Premium User Badge

        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Nice to see sniper’s making things less fun in more than just MP games.

  15. Sardonic says:

    Bulletstorm also had an amazing moment of subverting the core fps idea that “As long as you’re moving to new areas, moving forward, you’re making progress”. The part with the bomb I mean, you know the one.

  16. UnravThreads says:

    Are you actually allowed to mention Bulletstorm without linking to the excellent Halo parody trailer?

    Also, the game should really be introduced as “the game where Steve Blum sings (I think? I’m sure he does) and exchanges swears with Jen Hale”, because it is one of THE best FPS games for those two things alone.

    Edit: Watching a language compilation has reminded me that some of its comments are… not cool.

  17. Romeric says:

    A very funny read. Try reading it with the voice of Torgue from Borderlands in your head. I find it funnier.