Wot I Think: Bulletstorm – Full Clip Edition

What a peculiar thing is Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition [official site]. It’s Bulletstorm from six years ago, that entertaining FPS, but this time with an optional additional mode that is loads worse. That’ll be full price, please!

Bulletstorm rather inexplicably didn’t sell well. It was a big budget FPS that tossed aside all the bullshit bathos that polluted the genre then and now, focusing on gore, explosions and naughty swears. Competent, well written (comic guru Rick Remender wrote the dumb-but-smart script), and incessantly bombastic, it completely delivered. It should have been a hit. People Can Fly managed to be boorish without being vile. But modest sales were not enough to convince the bossmen it was worth persisting with a sequel. Oh, and the PC version was gruesomely strangled by GFWL at the time, which certainly didn’t help matters.

It has been, they say, visually upgraded, 4K resolutions added, and I’ll assume that’s true. The original version is gone from the inter-shops (owned by EA, it’s not even on Origin), so I can’t really compare. I remember that it looked extremely pretty back then, and it looks extremely pretty now (outside of cutscenes, that look bizarrely awful), so that likely means it’s been much upgraded. Six year old pretty tends to look pretty crummy in the present, and this certainly doesn’t. Although close-ups of faces reveal the passage of time, and some textures are pretty cruddy, the vistas remain breathtaking. Saying that, looking at old screenshots it’s hard to tell the difference, but this more stands as testament to how damned good it looked back then.

You don’t need me to review Bulletstorm again. I really enjoy it, despite its being a corridor shooter – it gets the constricted genre exactly right, allowing inventive, improvised combat within its narrow walls, charging from ridiculous set-piece to more ridiculous set-piece without pause, and it does it well. You can read Quintin’s original review, our group verdict of the game, and Alice’s more recent reflections on the fun it offered. We really like the original Bulletstorm, present here, and we haven’t changed our minds. It’s great, you can’t buy the original any more, and so if you never did you should.

So now it’s back, olden DLC included, and with new DLC that, oh, replaces the central character with Duke Nukem. Oh.

What a weird decision. It’s like re-releasing Bladerunner but replacing Harrison Ford with Mel Gibson. True Lies, but with Arnie’s role portrayed by Dane Cook. The Wicker Man, but Edward Woodward usurped by Nicolas Cage – oh wait. It’s so madly out of touch with reality, a decision made by a boardroom so isolated from actual air-breathing humans that they think Duke Nukem is anything other than a weary punchline. And, naturally, the results are a disaster.

Of course this is an optional mode, offered as a pre-order bonus or separate DLC, but if you played the original then it’s really the only new content available. And wow, it’s shoddy. It’s a straight replacement of former hero Grayson Hunt with the ever-dreary Duke, with all “original” dialogue from the flat-topped anti-hero. And only him. Leading to the incessant farce that his hastily bashed out lines absolutely do not fit in to the game, clashing amateurishly with the original dialogue spoken by the rest of the cast. And yes, I scarequote “original”, because it’s as fresh as Duke’s lines ever were. (Those old enough to have enjoyed Duke Nukem 3D will recall his most famous lines just happened to have been previously uttered by the likes of They Live and Evil Dead.)

Now, had this been handled with flare and grace it could have been pretty funny. Alas. Duke fairly early on gives up correcting people who call him Gray, and instead just says tired, “borrowed” action dialogue that doesn’t quite match up with the conversation around him. Occasionally it rather desperately resorts to Duke’s saying pretty much the same line as the original in order for there to be any sense, and this always entirely contradicts the rest of his character. It feels clumsy, so much so that when it then tries to be self-referential about this, it feels more like it’s laughing at you for having paid than itself for having failed.

Worst of all, so haphazardly has the replacement been done that Duke uses all the same animations as Gray – it is, really, no more than a reskinning – and this becomes problematic when it comes to the lip-sync. Which is – obviously – ludicrous as a result. Duke’s mouth moves while he’s silent, stays still while he’s talking, and if the two happen to line up, clearly don’t match. It’s pretty surprisingly shoddy stuff. And Jon St. John’s delivery is as bad as I’ve ever heard.

And so pointless! It’s not like Gray was a mild-mannered accountant to be amusingly contrasted by the crass and foul-mouthed Duke. Gray’s typical dialogue consisted of lines like, “You scared the dick off me!” He already was a far, far more entertaining and well-written character in the same mold as Gearbox’s long-loathed license. It reeks of desperation.

There are six more Echoes maps for the single-player speed runs/high score tasks, although I’m not sure if that extends to the much more fun Ultimate Echoes challenge modes. They don’t say, and my memory isn’t that good. It also offers the splendid-sounding Overkill Campaign mode, with all weapons and Skill Shots unlocked from the start, which sounds like it would be tremendous fun. Would be, because for no good reason it’s not available from the start, isn’t mentioned anywhere by the game, and will only appear once you’ve completed the game. Hey, guess what? I completed the game six years ago. Sigh. It certainly doesn’t help that the game’s marketing info doesn’t mention this is locked.

So it’s an odd bag, really. Bulletstorm is lots of silly fun, and deserved to do better in 2011. It’s still lots of silly fun, but it’s hard to quite get as behind the desire for it to do well when it’s being released at full price with very little new put in. Refreshed graphics, 4K support, increased polygons you absolutely won’t appreciate unless you’ve got a video mode on your photographic memory – that’s the sort of thing you’d hope to see in a patch. It’s great that it’s in there, and the game unquestionably looks lovely – I’ve obviously no idea how much of a slog it was to achieve this. But when new modes are restricted to a few more Echoes maps, and even the shitty Duke mode is a separate piece of DLC for those who didn’t pre-order (which is everyone, right?), it’s not a bedazzling offer. Not least when the new game plus mode is locked, despite your having finished the game over half a decade ago.

At a budget price reflecting the age of the game and the lack of new content, this would be such an easy recommendation. Especially as I could so easily recommend you not waste your money on the cruddy half-arsed Duke DLC mode. At £30 that’s a tougher call for you to make.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is out tomorrow via Steam on Windows only for £30/$50/€46.

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54 Comments

Top comments

  1. HisDivineOrder says:

    Imagine a game where you have to infiltrate Gearbox HQ to rescue Duke Nukem from Randy's daily milking. Alas, by the time you reach him, you find Duke is just a hollowed out, zombie-like shell of a man left with little except his voice and sunglasses.

    The end of the game is you wiping away a single tear and putting a bullet in his head, ending it. Just before he dies, Duke looks up and whispers, "Good? Bad? You're the guy with the--"

    "I know, Duke. I know." That's when you turn and Randy appears from a bathroom stall with his nVidia SHIELD device in one hand and a wad of toiletpaper in the other. His eyes go wide.

    You aim your gun. He holds his hands up and drops his TP. "I didn't want to do it, man! I just did what the people wanted! People wanted it all like this! THEY DID!"

    "Did they want Duke Nukem Forever? Or did they just want to dream of what it might have been until you had the gall to go and NOT FINISH IT and then release it with a Season Pass? Did they want Aliens Colonial Marines to be not even a glorified tech demo pish-posh mish-mash of uncompleted ideas by a wide array of cheap developers? DID THEY WANT YOU TO TERMINATE WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE THE FRANCHISES OF DUKE NUKEM, HOMEWORLD, AND NOW BULLETSTORM!? DID THEY, RANDY? DID THEY REALLY?"

    Swallowing, he'll whisper, "But I made Battleborn..."
  1. Mokinokaro says:

    It gets even worse/funnier

    This version of Bulletstorm traded GFWL for Denuvo which, while being nowhere near as nasty or obtrusive as GFWL was, still means that the game will become unusable in the future when the activation servers are shut down.

    On top of that, Gearbox used this game to prove they can sink to new lows by partnering up with scummy G2A, one of the skeeviest 3rd party key sites.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      It’s worth noting that the G2A claim of the game being cheaper there than Steam is complete bullshit too.

      They compare their pre-VAT price to Steam’s VAT-inclusive price, which is impressively deceptive. Once the VAT is added on, in the UK at least, the game is much more expensive to buy on G2A.

      • SecondSince says:

        Impressively deceptive. That could be the G2A slogan.

        • mavrik says:

          Not to mention illegal (in EU at least) – you’re not allowed to sell things without adding VAT to the price.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      So you’ll need to install the game and never uninstall it for fear of those activation servers shutting down?

      I was intending to get this game when it’s at 75-80 % lower price on a sale, which might take a while. A shame that the old version is no longer sold and even if you got a copy, you’d have trouble with GFWL, right?

      • gpown says:

        There is a fix to bypass GFWL if you google for it. Worked without any problems for me a year or two ago.

        • Darth Gangrel says:

          Thanks, good to know. So now I only have to get hold of a copy of old Bulletstorm, which will probably cost as much as the new Bulletstorm. Oh, what a dilemma… or something.

        • Mandrake42 says:

          Apparently it still works so long as you use the fixes out there. I was just on the Steam forums regarding the original game earlier

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      -Servers shut down-
      Not sure if the game is that good. Will you play it every year? The amount of new releases and stuff coming out all the time…
      Planescape: Torment I own on CD, DVD and GOG and all quite cheap and now there’s the enhanced version also. If a game is really good I don’t mind five bucks, if not is it worth wasting time years later?

      • malkav11 says:

        Whether a given person will play it again isn’t the point. The point is that it should be possible, generally. If not for people who purchase it now, then for people who come to it later. There is no good reason in a digital age not to preserve every work that has been created in any medium, and certainly no good reason to deliberately sabotage future preservation.

        And I mean, hey, Bulletstorm may not seem like an important thing to preserve for the future, but I daresay Shakespeare (who was popular entertainment back in his day) wouldn’t have been considered important then either.

        • Kollega says:

          Not to appear overly defensive or play devil’s advocate here (I know I’m biased when it comes to Bulletstorm) – but doesn’t anyone remember that Denuvo can be patched out, like it happened with the 2016 Doom? Sure, it’s not going to happen every time a game gets burdened with Denuvo, but Gearbox and People Can Fly could, I imagine, patch it out at some point if Bethesda and id patched it out. It’s not impossible, at least.

          And people did, and maybe still do (I don’t really know, maybe nowadays it’s not used seriously anymore), use the argument of “the devs/Valve will patch out the Steamworks requirement if Steam goes bust!”, so.

          • Person of Interest says:

            Sure, Denuvo could be patched out. Just like GFWL could be patched out… but wasn’t, for most games, even after the mass hysteria caused by Microsoft’s vague communications regarding the service shutdown.

            Off-the-shelf cracks exist for GFWL and Steamworks, so owners can always take matters into their own hands if necessary. Not so for Denuvo.

            For me, Denuvo puts a game firmly on my “will not buy or play” list, along with GFWL, Securom, and the other worst offenders. (I don’t own a gaming console, either.)

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            I run away as well as soon as I see any hint of Denuvo being used in a game. Patching it out of a game means paying developers to do it, so it’s highly unlikely that most companies will take that step.

  2. svge says:

    Duke Nukem is the worst thing ever and I say that as someone who loved Duke3D. Just let him die.

    • Ghostwise says:

      IMO he’s a good symbol for “gamer culture”.

      • Scripten says:

        See, I’d play a Duke game where that was the repetitious joke, instead of… well, anything we’ve seen from the Duke IP in a decade or so.

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          I’ve thought for a while that the best thing they could do for Duke is to make him into a ridiculous parody of a manosphere douchebag.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            Isn’t he already? :P

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            MajorLag says:

            I didn’t play much of DNF because it was really boring after the first few bits, but isn’t that kind of exactly what they did?

          • Premium User Badge

            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            I’ve never played DNF so I wouldn’t know. I guess I mean more self-aware and better written parody of manosphere douchebag. Make him a man going his own way or something.

    • HisDivineOrder says:

      Imagine a game where you have to infiltrate Gearbox HQ to rescue Duke Nukem from Randy’s daily milking. Alas, by the time you reach him, you find Duke is just a hollowed out, zombie-like shell of a man left with little except his voice and sunglasses.

      The end of the game is you wiping away a single tear and putting a bullet in his head, ending it. Just before he dies, Duke looks up and whispers, “Good? Bad? You’re the guy with the–”

      “I know, Duke. I know.” That’s when you turn and Randy appears from a bathroom stall with his nVidia SHIELD device in one hand and a wad of toiletpaper in the other. His eyes go wide.

      You aim your gun. He holds his hands up and drops his TP. “I didn’t want to do it, man! I just did what the people wanted! People wanted it all like this! THEY DID!”

      “Did they want Duke Nukem Forever? Or did they just want to dream of what it might have been until you had the gall to go and NOT FINISH IT and then release it with a Season Pass? Did they want Aliens Colonial Marines to be not even a glorified tech demo pish-posh mish-mash of uncompleted ideas by a wide array of cheap developers? DID THEY WANT YOU TO TERMINATE WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE THE FRANCHISES OF DUKE NUKEM, HOMEWORLD, AND NOW BULLETSTORM!? DID THEY, RANDY? DID THEY REALLY?”

      Swallowing, he’ll whisper, “But I made Battleborn…”

      • KillahMate says:

        Hey now, don’t take Homeworld away from me. I still have hope.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        “Did they want Aliens Colonial Marines to be not even a glorified tech demo pish-posh mish-mash of uncompleted ideas by a wide array of cheap developers?”

        I have to say, one of the studios that was contracted to make A:CM was Timegate Studios, and I know they can make excellent games; Section 8: Prejudice was some of the best multiplayer action I’ve ever enjoyed. Gearbox threw them under the bus when people went looking for heads to claim after A:CM flopped, and while Timegate and Gearbox both said it was the other studio, I’m inclined to believe Timegate on this one. They were a small studio though, so they didn’t have the PR or legal departments to convince anyone though, so Gearbox is fairly directly responsible for killing a great studio as well.

        • durruti says:

          they killed the dev studio that made the kohan series, the best realtime strategie game ever. on top of colon marines and (support and release of) dnf that is rather unforgivable.

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        kfix says:

        Magnificent. Where do I preorder?

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        Come on, at least give him a chance to save his game first. Bad form.

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        John Walker says:

        *standing ovation*

  3. Chaoslord AJ says:

    In this land of censorship where I live there was never an uncut version or indeed a steam version of the game as I can recall so I might give this a spin when it’s about 10€ around the Christmas sale approximately.

  4. bhauck says:

    What? No. What?

  5. Premium User Badge

    Dorga says:

    mmm I bet Randy Pitchford is gonna tweet a link to some totally not paid by him Duke Nukem/Bulletstorm porn in a few days.

    • Jalan says:

      Or he’ll have another Twitter conversation with himself essentially across two accounts, like he did when Duke 3D World Tour was announced.

  6. Jalan says:

    I love Bulletstorm, but I don’t love anything about this Bulletstorm.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Wow, $50? Yeah, okay. If they’d set it out there for $20 maybe.

    I don’t care about the Denuvo mentioned above, but the $50 price point is a little much for a silly FPS that I figure I’d chew through in less than ten hours.

    Looks pretty though.

    • Kollega says:

      In theory, you can get more than ten hours out of Bulletstorm. It depends on one thing: whether you think you’ll have fun with the score attack possibilities. I’d say wait for a sale with a reasonable price, and buy it then.

  8. c-Row says:

    You certainly can’t claim that they didn’t do everything possible to make people not preorder.

    Certainly a candidate for a bargain bin purchase of the PS4 version to dodge Denuvo.

  9. Kollega says:

    Disclosure: with the Goldeneye Discount of 50% [read: it’s cheaper in post-Soviet countries], this is a better deal for me than it would be at “full price”. I agree that $50 is a steep price for a remaster, but $25? A lot more tolerable, even taking embarrassing exchange rates into account. And we get the multiplayer back, which is simply not possible on GfWL version anymore, plus the Ultimate Echoes mode – from what little I heard, it’s a cool skill challenge on top of what the game already has.

    However, it’s a huge shame that the Duke DLC is awful. Because Bulletstorm is about the only game where Duke would be appropriate as the replacement protagonist. It’s clearly a wasted opportunity. Though… I admit, Gray is already a funnier Duke, so maybe Duke being all too appropriate is precisely the problem.

  10. funkstar says:

    hrm, cost me £25.49 on steam today as a preorder with 15% preorder discount. I figured it was worth doing since a review was out and its still a preorder. Do not give a flying flip about the Duke stuff though, just in it for the original game :) On the scale of remasterprices isn’t that bad?

    • fish99 says:

      That’s standard new game price isn’t it? Well, maybe not on Steam, but that’s what I usually pay elsewhere for new AAA games. It’s a lot for a minor remaster of an old game with no significant new content, IMO anyway.

  11. Hoot says:

    Played it on release, solid FPS game. Wouldn’t say it was worth anywhere near £30 today though.

    If they sold it for £5 I’d buy it in an instant, just to replay it through for the laughs. But £30 is just insane.

  12. DinoSteak says:

    Hopefully this will be the proverbial nail in the coffin for Gearbox, they’re just awful. Really shady business practices have been shown, and speculated on, in the past and hopefully this release will bring more of that to light. Remember this company wants $50 from you for a Bulletstorm re-skin to add to their G2A bankrolling…scummy.

  13. Marclev says:

    So … can anyone confirm if this actually looks better than the original, or if it’s just one of those “We’ve got it looking as good on the current generations of consoles as it did on the PC 6 years ago” remasters?

    Not that I’d have any intention to buy it. I have the original on Steam and it looks and plays just fine.

  14. haldolium says:

    Can you jump now, or do you still run into every piece of litter marked with BLOCKING VOLUME as a full-on concrete wall?

    #invisiblewallstorm

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Still no jump. The game is absolutely identical, but for improved piccies.

    • shoptroll says:

      If you wanted to get fancy, in the original you could edit the configuration files to bind spacebar to mantle and slide which made it almost feel like there’s a jump button. Maybe it’s still possible to do so in the new version?

  15. Unlucky7 says:

    I would have paid full price if they had got some of the original team back together to provide an additional chapter to provide an actual ending to their game instead of the blatant sequel hook that will never happen.

    But no, Randy is still under the delusion that Duke is still funny and relevant.

  16. Napalm Sushi says:

    As noble as Bulletstorm’s efforts to pare away all the pompous tripe of the genre were, I wonder if people ultimately rejected it because they prefer their media to at least pretend intellectual depth. Bulletstorm’s marketing essentially amounted to “Guts! Noise! Sadism! Yeah, that’s all you really want isn’t it, you savage, bloodthirsty apes?!” Well, considering the success of things like Inception, The Dark Knight and Dan Brown movies, no; people probably just felt insulted.

    Which – as has been stated to death here – is ironic and a damn shame, because Bulletstorm’s script was a lot smarter and a boatload more self-aware than most of its contemporaries.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Bulletstorm was surprisingly clever for a game and unlike most games with similar themes, it wasn’t vile. Honestly, Bulletstorm, Serious Sam 3 and Doom 4 are my favourite shooters these days because they’re honest about what they are, clever and quite funny and not pretentious like some many other main stream games. They don’t try to be something they’re not and they don’t pretend to be thoughtful. Bulletstorm also had heart, something sorely missing in games.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I’ve still got the original DVD around here somewhere, but as mentioned, I don’t know if I can be arsed to fart about with the DRM zombie that is GFWL.
    Mind you, also can’t be arsed to pay for such a blatant cash grab in this new edition.

    As an aside, by the time Bulletstorm came out, I had already grown tired of Steve Blum’s over-use in videogames, but he redeemed himself here, and was obviously having fun.

    Seriously, Nolan North ain’t got NOTHIN’ on Mr. Blum.
    Steve is omnipresent.

  18. Mandrake42 says:

    Wow. I thought you were joking when you said they crammed Duke Nukem in there. While that would have been a terrible joke, that it isn’t a joke is far worse.

  19. April March says:

    One day we’ll still get the Duke Nukem we truly deserve: as a voicepack for Saints’ Row IV.

  20. Caiman says:

    Poor People Can Fly, they can’t catch a break with this game. The first was crippled with GFWL, and kinda died under EA’s handling of it. Now they’re shackled with Gearbox as publisher, who are the devil, and have shitted it up with pointless Duke crap and slapped another silly DRM on it. Guys, next time try a publisher that’s less evil maybe?

    Anyway no, much as I’d want to support PCF, I’m sure as shit not supporting Gearbox.

  21. ZippyLemon says:

    “Do HD remakes,” we cried. “We miss the classy games of yore.”

    “Okay!” said the industry, “but you realise that we’re only going to do this in the laziest, most potentially profitable way, at the expense of any opportunity to pay genuine homage to the legacy of our work?”

    Our optimism was turned on its head. “Wait, no, that’s-”

    “HAHAHA, TOO LATE, you SHITS,” crowed the publishing executives. “All we did was an upscale and a halfway reskin, and we burned the old copies as smoke for the crunch god! MUAHAHAHHA”

    is pretty much how I think these things go down.