Bulletstorm: Lowbrow, Loud, Juvenile, and Proud

By Shamus Posted Sunday Jul 27, 2014

Filed under: Game Reviews 64 comments

I loved Bulletstorm. You think it’s strange seeing those words on my website? It feels even stranger to write them. It’s the most coherent shooter I’ve played since Spec Ops: The Line. I’m sure that also sounds strange. Spec Ops was a blistering condemnation of mindless violence and Bulletstorm is a gleeful celebration of it. Spec Ops was a dark, disturbing look at quasi-real-world warfare and Bulletstorm is a funhouse ride where you murder screaming space mutants.

In both cases we have games that know exactly what they’re doing and what they’re about, without the strange gameplay / cutscene dissonance that so many shooters suffer from. They nail the tone early on, and and use the conventions of the shooter genre to support their message rather than seeing them as an unwelcome obligation that the game designer has to meet between story beats. In both games you’re treated to absolutely gorgeous visuals that demonstrate that you can make a world “gritty” without making it dull, repetitive, and beige.

Also, both games have you playing a crazyman who is chasing a general who is responsible for mass destruction. That’s not supposed to be a profound parallel or anything. I just thought it was interesting.

Travel the galaxy! See new and interesting places! See exotic alien wildlife! Shoot psychos in the nuts!

In Bulletstorm you play Grayson Hunt, a space marine, bounty hunter, pirate, alcoholic, and complete asshole. Years ago he ran a squad of mercenary assassins who did exactly what it says on the tin. Then they discovered that the supposed “dangerous people” they were assassinating were actually innocents. They’d been killing honest citizens who were a political threat to their employer, General Sarrano. Grayson didn’t take this revelation well, and developed a Moby Dick type relationship with Sarrano. At the start of the game the two end up in a fiery space battle that leaves them stranded on a crazy post-apocalyptic hellhole of a planet. So while they’re trying to kill each each other they’re also caught between rival gangs of murderous cannibals, mutants, and ravenous indigenous wildlife.

All of this is the setup for the player to murder their way across some deliciously corrupted landscape. The game gives you points for killing foes creatively. Boot them into acid. Knock them off ledges. Toss them into spikes. Hurl them into spinning rotors. Shoot them in the head. Shoot them in the ass. Shoot them in the balls. Shoot off their limbs. Crush them with machinery. Feed them to the wildlife. Blow them into space. Confuse them into killing each other. Blow them into the air so you can shoot off their limbs and kick their still-screaming body onto burning spikes.

This is not a game about making friends.

It’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to be horribly murdered there.

The more creative and varied your killing is, the more points you get. It’s like a version of Tony Hawk, but with mass murder instead of skateboarding. You use the points to buy weapon upgrades and you use the weapon upgrades to dispatch your foes in new and diabolical ways. Bulletstorm is the first game since Borderlands to remember that shooting is supposed to be gameplay, not a time-sink between story beats.

But before you go running off to check out this now-bargain gem, you might want to read the fine print: Games For Windows Live. It’s on Steam, but the achievements, DLC, and multiplayer are done through GFWL. To rub salt in the wound, the PC interface is a comedy of stupid decisions and annoyances.

The planet was originally designed to be a resort, but now it’s this hellhole. The irony is that if you really went to a resort then the game would be boring, but because the resort is no longer fun, the game is. Deep? No. But the game doesn’t pretend this is anything profound.
The planet was originally designed to be a resort, but now it’s this hellhole. The irony is that if you really went to a resort then the game would be boring, but because the resort is no longer fun, the game is. Deep? No. But the game doesn’t pretend this is anything profound.

Oh, you want to skip these splash screens? Well smack that escape key all you like, but you’re still going to watch these commercials for third-party technology companies that you don’t care about. Oops. Did you hit escape one too many times, like when the game FINALLY gets to the main menu? Well now the game is going to exit. So you can watch all that crap AGAIN. Actually, it’s going to crash as it exits. Nobody knows why. It just does that. Okay, you’re at the title screen again? Now press ENTER to begin. But then when you get to the next screen you use SPACE to make things happen. Now you’ve left the title screen. ESC no longer exits the game. Neither does Alt-F4, because this game was programmed entirely on a dual-shock controller and the coders have never seen a keyboard before in their lives.

Assuming you can actually placate GFWL enough that it’ll let you play: In-game, you use SPACE to sprint, but also SPACE to interact with stuff. Sometimes you use R instead. Or E. It depends. SPACE is also slide. There is no jump button, because what if players jumped outside of the Designated Jumping Zones? They might engage in Unauthorized Fun. It would be chaos.

No, restarting from the last checkpoint doesn’t fix this. You have to play the ENTIRE chapter again.

On top of this are a scattering of lame bugs that can block progress. I got one that caused my NPC buddy to get stuck in the air so he couldn’t open the next blockade so the story could continue. This bug has been around since 2011, on all platforms. Nobody ever bothered to fix it. Why would a publisher spend tens of millions of dollars making a game but not dedicate a trivial amount of money to fix well-documented and reproducible bugs once they have your money never mind I just answered my own question.

Of course, if you get a console version you won’t have these problems. Then again, the console version probably costs twice as much, and won’t run on next-gen machines. I don’t know how to advise you here. People are making fun games. We have money. It should be a simple process to get the money to the developers and the games to the players and everyone will be happy. But somehow a group of very inventive clowns keep getting in the way, devouring the money and making the games less fun. It’s like they’re not happy until everyone else isn’t happy.

The quad-barrel shotgun: The five-bladed razor of shotguns, except with four instead of five.

Aside from these thumbtacks-in-your-candybar type annoyances, Bulletstorm is a treat. It’s fun to play, a delight to look at, and it has some honest-to-goodness character beats hidden under the crass frosting of ridiculous macho shouting and near-constant dick jokes.

This is not BioShock Infinite, where you murder hundreds of police officers with a grisly sky hook but it’s okay because they’re probably racists mostly and that robs them of their humanity and makes their families not love them and the only way your character can deal with the atrocities in his past is to perpetrate tons of new atrocities and by the way time travel religion alternate worlds and ghosts and science and SYMBOLISM!

Sigh. I don’t mean that BioShock Infinite is a horrible game. It’s just that the game isn’t nearly as smart or as clever as it pretends to be, and for all the heavy-handed symbolism the game throws at us it has very little to say about any of it.

Grayson’s personality profile reads, “Does not play well with others because he murders them and abuses the corpse.”

In contrast, Bulletstorm is unpretentious. Bulletstorm isn’t confused about its message, or throwing controversial topics at the screen like blood decals and calling it a message. Do you want to shoot some dudes? Here is an endless stream of psychotic cannibal murder mutants. Knock yourself out. Do you want a bit of character development? All of the good guys get some kind of arc here. They’re not big or fancy, but the journey changes them and how they relate to each other. All without breaking the flow of the game.

Making the main character an irresponsible dumbass was a brilliant move. I always resent it in games when I’m obliged to do something obviously stupid for the purposes of the plot. But in Bulletstorm Grayson is perfectly suited to the job of videogame protagonist. Yes, using EXPLOSIVES to clear this debris when we’re trying to avoid attention is obviously foolhardy. As a player, I do want to set off the explosives because explosions are fun and I know I’ll get to shoot more dudes. I just don’t want to game to pretend it outsmarted me when I take the only path available to me. Making Grayson a jerk clears this up by letting his idiocy take the blame. Instead of the writer constantly inventing new excuses for why everything has to break just as the player arrives, that conceit is built right into the main character.

Sadly, the ending is a set-up for a sequel that, going by sales numbers, nobody is interested in making. Still, it has a charm and honesty about itself that I really admire.


From The Archives:

64 thoughts on “Bulletstorm: Lowbrow, Loud, Juvenile, and Proud

  1. silver Harloe says:

    It's most coherent shooter I've played
    I think you wanted the word ‘the’ in there?

    But in Bulletstorm Grayson
    pretty sure that will scan better with a comma after ‘Bulletstorm’? (I could be smoking crack on this one)

    1. Otters34 says:

      This not Bioshock Infinite…
      Unless you’re channeling backwards Bizarro, of course. Then that ‘is’ had no place there anyway.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I accidentally some typos in there.

  2. Skuvnar says:

    I like Bulletstorm as well, even if the PC version was a mess on release.
    The only issue I had was it would occasionally nibble of some of the cake it had in the cutscenes and attempt to get serious about it’s characters. Didn’t quite gel with the 5 hours I just spent shooting people in the penis and kicking them into cacti.

  3. Ilseroth says:

    I actually had the pleasure of picking up bulletstorm on 360, used, for I believe it was under a dollar. I am not sure why it was as critically and commercially slammed, but at the same time most people probably don’t see the game for what it is.

    You said in your description that it was reminiscent of Tony Hawk games, but in all honesty that comparison is actually more deft then my mind originally gave it credit for. The first time going on a level you are going to do the same thing as THPS, moving about, taking on challenges as you find them. The primary goal is exploration and discovery, finding out what works and what doesn’t and checking out the locale.

    The second playthrough of an area usually turns into a score run. Just like THPS you find yourself lining up a chain of tricks all in a row, trying to maximize how many tricks you can land in a row. On this playthrough the goal is mastery, iteration of the gameplay mechanics and learning how to use them effectively and efficiently.

    While Bulletstorm isn’t particularly amazing, I will say that it was a hell of a lot better then the contemporary shooters that had been released at the time. It was a breath of fresh air that showed that you really could still have fun in a shooting game.

  4. Isaac says:

    Soooooo Bulletstorm SW season confirmed?

    1. Joakim Karlen says:

      All of the yes! (I hope.)

      1. With Josh “Bug Magnet” as player? It’ll be a LOOONG season of fast-forward sequences.

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Sounds like an awesome idea. They’ll start out gushing about it but by the end of the season, it will be nothing but them complaining about a game you like and you might find yourself starting to hate the game too. Be careful what you wish for is all I’m saying.

      1. I’m beginning to think you really don’t get what Spoiler Warning is about. You can still enjoy a game while pointing out its worst qualities. I don’t hate Fallout 3, but I’ll agree up and down that the main quest is loaded with holes and if it was possible to get the GOTY version without Operation Anchorage, it’d be worth it.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I know. Rationally, I get it. And they did nothing wrong, their points were all valid at least (or even objectively correct). I even enjoyed it in the beginning when they bounced back and forth between positive and negative more. But late in the season the positive stuff had dried up naturally and the negative stuff was still stuff that they were having to deal with because they were still playing the game. And add to that the fans fixating on the negative because criticism is a main draw for this fanbase. It bummed me out a bit.

        Even if I was the one constantly defending the game, its only because pretty much nobody else was. I get that it has lots of bugs and a good many individual aspects could have been improved in some way.

        But that doesn’t change the cumulative effect that relentless bashing on something you love sometimes has. So I said, be careful what you wish for. If you like Bulletstorm, you might be bummed out a bit after Spoiler Warning spends a season on it.

        Skyrim is the only game I’ve experienced this with. They’ve done other game that I liked (like the Mass Effects and New Vegas) and I wasn’t this bummed by the end.

  5. TMTVL says:

    I would like to state my dislike for this game, but as I am a rather crude person by nature, I’ll refrain from doing so in the way I would prefer.

    Let me just say that the game sounds like a fun romp for anyone who is into that kind of thing, but it doesn’t quite sound like my cup of tea.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      I think, in your attempt to be brief, you have excised all of the content from your opinion.

      Are you saying it’s too crass for you? Or you’re saying that you are too crass to say what you actually think? Have you played it and therefore dislike it based on experience? Or you dislike what you’ve heard, and disagree that it is a theoretically valuable experience for… yourself?

      Please re-state. I have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

      1. nerdpride says:

        I have to agree that it’s difficult to complain just right. And it’s too easy to mix in feelings with it. It isn’t too difficult to try a videogame and wish you had the time, money, and non-frustration back.

        If I were thinking of writing something about this game, I would probably leave it at “Games for Windows Live — kill it with fire”. Because there are plenty of games out there that don’t force you through anything like that. TMTVL is probably thinking of something completely different.

        Yeah, I miss the days of anti-DRM Shamus.

    2. Blastinburn says:

      If your problem is that the script is too crass, there is actually supposed to be an option to use an alternative script which removes the bad language. (It’s not censored, they rewrote the script. Complete with voice acting)

      I read about it in an interview with the developers when they talked about people complaining to them about the language in the game. They were sad that no-one had bothered to look at the options menu and use the alternative script they spent a lot of effort on. I am unfortunately unable to find the interview (Google has failed me), but you can find articles that mention the language filter.

      1. Ringwraith says:

        Wait, that option actually changes it instead of bleeps it?
        That’s fantastic.

        Almost tempted to play it through again now just to see how it changes.

        Speaking of menus, also one of the best main menu designs I’ve seen in ages.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I going to give it a high five for that too. Thats awesome that they would do that. I generally have no problem with language but I have friends and family that do and its always nice when a creator thinks to inclusive of them.

        Plus, if theres anything in that alternate script like “I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this monday to friday plane.” That would be amazing.

  6. Nyctef says:

    I really really want to see a Bulletstorm 2, if only for my personal headcanon of an alternate-universe male/female Shepard teaming up and flying around the universe shooting and swearing at everything they come across.

    Seriously one of my favourite of Jennifer Hale’s performances.

  7. Paul Spooner says:

    I am constantly amazed that anyone can sell a million of anything and still fail to turn a profit. Every time that happens the whole “business” staff should be standing in line at the soup kitchen, because that’s probably the most difficult task any of them are capable of really excelling at. Who put those clowns in charge of things anyway?

    1. silver Harloe says:

      let’s say 20 people at $5k month = $100k/month (the employees don’t see all of that, I’ve thrown in overhead like employer’s share of benefits and taxes) – and those are *cheap* salaries (the employees taking home ~$40k/year).
      If you make them all go to an office, then you have probably $25k/month in rent and utilities.
      Equipment and furniture is a one time cost, but assuming you just started your studio, we’ll say $10k/head, or $200k.

      so $200k + $125k/month. I’ve been sloppy and roundy and totally guessing, but, still, the point is, you’ve burned through your first million in 7 months, and another million every 8 months thereafter. How long does it take 20 people to make a game? I dunno. Let’s say 15 months to be terribly optimistic and make the math easier. So it cost you $2M to make your game.

      Did you sell all million copies at $60? I hope so, because after the middlemen and publisher take their share, you need to make at least $6/copy bucks yourself per copy to pay off your loan and fund the next 15 months to make the next game.

      But, of course, I really low-balled salaries and development time and probably low-balled staff size. I could be off by a huge amount for office space.

      I have troubles seeing how any games ever make money :(

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:


        This. This is why I tend to be a bit forgiving about the failings of games. People don’t think about just how much this stuff costs, how much the middle men cost.

        I will buy the arguments from those like Shamus and crew who say they’d be willing to accept tradeoffs to get what they want (sacrifice cutting edge graphics and voice acting to get back the abundance of content for example.) But a lot of people want to have their cake and eat it too and think all that money is just stacked on some fat cat’s table waiting to pay for his next coke binge.

        This doesn’t even cover risk. If you want developers to take risks and not make the same old games, then some of those games are going to fail which means other games have to make enough to cover the cost of those failures. (thankfully, the indie scene can experiment at a lower cost because expectations are lower.)

        1. Mind you, some of that money is stacked on some fat cat’s table waiting to pay for his next coke binge. But this is nearly impossible to avoid in our system when corporations reach a certain size and/or middlemen are involved. So it doesn’t really imply general management incompetence.

          1. Wide And Nerdy says:

            Fair enough. Any system that gets that large has its inefficiencies.

            Side thought: Now that I think about it, I like the kind of risk Nintendo takes. They keep their properties the same but add new gameplay and, more importantly, get you to try funky new hardware. You may not be sure about the WiiMote but if it lets you play the next Mario, well . . .

            That said, I haven’t owned a Nintendo since the 64 so I haven’t had to live with it.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Why is there no flavor text for bulletstorm3.jpg?

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “But before you go running off to check out this now-bargain gem, you might want to read the fine print:”

    Ah yes,now youve reminded me why Ive never finished this.The bugs,the annoyances,I simply couldnt go through all of it any longer.Shame.

    1. Richard says:


      GFWL kills it stone dead.

      I have bought exactly one Games for Windows Live game, and GFWL utterly destroyed my experience.

      Booting me out fifteen times to log in, refusing to stay logged in next time I want to play and thus booting me back out to log in, awful login page that barely works, crashing the DirectX state in order to do the above, outright losing my progress and saved games if GFWL fails to log in properly…

      Nope, I will never buy another GFWL game.

      UPlay was tame by comparison, and that’s another “feature” that completely black-balls a game for me.

      1. DaMunky89 says:

        Yeah, no. I refuse to put GFWL on my computer. When I /really/ want to play a GFWL game I buy it and then download / play a pirate copy instead.

        1. perryizgr8 says:

          that does more harm than good, methinks. this way they have encouragement to use gfwl (because you bought a legit copy) and also ammo to argue that they need to add more drm to prevent piracy (because you played thru a pirated copy).

          1. Eruanno says:

            Damn it. There’s just no winning in the battle against GFWL :(

      2. Ringwraith says:

        …or put it into offline mode.
        Then it cannot boot you out for being logged out!

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Except the off line mode disables a bunch of effects, up to and including *saving* in some games. Missing achievements is sad but unimportant, not being able to save makes some games impossible.

          Also, their off line mode bugs out more often than Steam’s, and it won’t let you go off line as long as you have an internet connection.

          GFWL is a pest and a plague. I own 3 games wih GFWL, and I’ve never installed two of them because of it (came from bundles).

  10. Ed says:

    Loved my playthrough of Bulletstorm. Its a damn shame that the team’s (People Can Fly)next game was Gears of War: Judgment, a failed attempt to jump-start a series that had already ran out of steam. I’d recommend Vanquish for anyone who enjoyed Bulletstorm’s gameplay. Both take core genre mechanics and then add a additional layer of skill/fun to the formula.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Plus…you know, ROCKET SLIDING.

  11. Ryan says:

    All this talk about the somewhat free-form fun, and yet the moment I saw the screenshot from inside the resort, all I could think of was:
    Wait, floors/walls/ceilings ruined from weathering, growth and destruction, but pristine leather couches?.
    Maybe I need a new hobby… I’m a 99th level Wizard at nitpicking, and it’s not helping me with much these days.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      They used to make pretty good couches back then.

    2. MadTinkerer says:

      Maybe the couches are made from future-super-plastic that just looks like leather.

      1. DIN aDN says:

        Yeah, if you read their Codex entry they actually have a pretty interesting backstory; apparently one of the companies that funded the resort colony was originally a manufacturer of hard-wearing but stylish furniture pieces for marginal-habitability colonies.

  12. brashieel says:

    Well, I was motivated to go spend $7 to pick it up on Amazon for the 360. Rick Remember as writer plus Jennifer Hale plus Shamus Young endorsement pretty much means I have to give it a shot.

    We’ll see if it lives up to the hype.

  13. Dev Null says:

    ” because this game was programmed entirely on a dual-shock controller and the coders have never seen a keyboard before in their lives.”

    I know, I know; sorry about the bugs. But seriously; have _you_ ever tried to write game code using nothing but a dual-shock controller?

    1. MadTinkerer says:

      Don’t forget to tighten up the graphics on level 3!

  14. Jeremiah says:

    I picked this a while back more or less on a whim. I was pretty much looking for a dumb-shooter-as-palette-cleanser sort of game and one day Steam happened to have this on sale. I didn’t know anything about it, had never heard of it, but for $5 (or maybe less), I figured I could get some entertainment out of it.

    I love just how unrepentant the game is about what sort of game it is. Absolutely no illusions. And a ton of fun.

    I did have a hell of a time getting it to run. I couldn’t for the life of me get it to run (damn GFWL). Looked through forums and tried all the solutions I could find. Nothing worked. And as these things go eventually had to resort to piracy. Which of course worked perfectly. And I never ran into any bugs. heh

  15. Eeeeeeeeeehhhhhh.

    I ‘unno, it’s just the idea of monetizing shooter mechanics has never really gelled with me. At best, it comes off as redundant and at worst, it’s limiting player choice by way of incentivising pre-defined actions rather than rewarding inventive play.

    And the fact this game was selling itself on the idea of ‘screw those self-serious FPS that don’t know how to have fun, you can just let loose and have fun with OUR game’ REALLY gets on mah bones when the ‘fun’ is pre-designed and implemented…for YOUR enjoyment!

    There’s also the dissonance issue that keeps me from giving games like Borderlands a shot. If your mechanics are real time, keep the mechanics associated with it real time. I don’t expect a bullet hitting a dude to prop up numbers on the screen. I mean…maybe if those numbers were from his blood spray…


    That’d be kinda clever actually.

    1. Jarenth says:

      It might be worth pointing out that Bulletstorm does actually explain the whole ‘numerical points for creative kills, that you use to buy weapons and ammo’ conceit in-universe. It’s a silly explanation, in fitting with the entire rest of the game, but I appreciated the fact that it was there regardless.

      1. Indy says:

        “Darwin would be proud.”

      2. My issue isn’t with the mechanic’s integration into the narrative (which I don’t hold with much importance to begin with) but its integration into the design and how it fundamentally contradicts it’s own credo as a ‘loud ‘n proud go nuts man!’ kind of game.

  16. Joey245 says:

    I never played Bulletstorm, but I’ve heard how fun it is. I’m glad you found another gem in the putrid grayish brown muck that is the modern FPS genre.

    And your comments about BioShock Infinite are completely accurate. It’s in love with its own cleverness but never really goes out of its way to show you how clever it thinks it is. At first, it almost fooled me. After I played Infinite, I spent several days thinking about everything that happened over the course of the game. I thought about Fitzroy, Fink, Elizabeth, Booker, Comstock, the Luteces, Songbird, all that jazz. I tried to find out what the game was trying to say with all these elements. The answer, it turns out, was that it didn’t have much to say at all. It’s all polish and no core. All sizzle and no steak. All setup and no punchline. Such a waste, and as much as I tried, I just can’t get through the game another time.

    Really, at this point, the only thing I found that I actually liked about BS:Infinite was Elizabeth. She really resonated with me on an emotional level, and even though I know she was basically engineered to do that to people like me, I still love the character herself. She is to me what Alyx Vance was to a lot of HL2 players, if that makes any sense.

    And the Sky-Lines. Those are still completely cool.

    Oh, and the shotgun. Lever-action shotguns just don’t get enough love these days.

    Everything else was pretty blah.

    1. Shirdal says:

      I am a little curious as to why BioShock Infinite has gotten quite a bit of shaming and hatred lately while the original BioShock still seems to be so fondly remembered.

      For all their powerful imagery and symbolism, they were both action* games at heart that gave only a superficial treatment to their overarching themes. BioShock had much to say about Objectivism as BioShock Infinite had to say about whatever the heck it was about. What is it about BioShock Infinite that gets some people and critics riled up against it?

      * BioShock tried its hand at horror for a while with mixed success until it got bored with it and started throwing splicers at you out the wazoo.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        I don’t dislike BI that much. But it’s story was just a mess. If it had the setting as just a background for the sci fi / meta / character stuff, that would have been fine. If the setting had taken precedence and the story was all about the serious issues, that would have been fine. But to me the worst part is that the Actual Story (the bit with Booker, Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s mother, Alternate Booker, and the Lutece Twins) had nothing to do with what was happening in the setting other than the main bad guy turning out the be an alternate Booker. The Songbird was a MacGuffin that followed the heroes around and turned out the be the key to Pandora’s Box but otherwise had nothing to do with the story and was barely a character. There’s an entire Wizard of Oz thematic allegory that I keep forgetting about because it has nothing to do with anything else.

        It’s just too much stuff, and none of it is developed enough. In terms of being unfocused and thematically confused, BI is precisely as bad as Duke Nukem Forever. The main difference being that DNF is attempting humor most of the time and BI is attempting to be serious most of the time.

      2. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Its backlash. Something gets big and it gets smacked down. But anything that touts itself as clever and then doesn’t hold up under scrutiny gets it double.

        Also, Spoiler Warning didn’t let the first Bioshock off the hook.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      I couldn’t even get through the game. Much for the same reasons and those Campster talked about in his review of the game, I just eventually decided it wasn’t worth my time and quit. People say that violence is supposed to be part of Booker’s character, but for me that doesn’t excuse the rampage the game is forcing you through in gameplay while the cutscenes make some vague “Look everyone, I have character!” attempts that seem more feigned to me than anything. If anything, the little characterization Booker gets only makes it worse. I can’t disassociate the player avatar from the violence (like I could with Jack in the original Bioshock, who was literally a blank slate) but I couldn’t make myself feel sympathetic towards what little crumbs of brusque dismissal the game offered up as ‘character’ either.

      Elizabeth was slightly better, but not good enough that I found myself wishing to finish the game. If the game had been an ICO-style game about your mutual dependance on each other and working together to solve puzzles I could have taken it, but not that mediocre shooter gameplay. In the end, what little I got out of Bioshock: Infinite before I quit it, hounded in my head by words of “Do you feel like a hero yet?” every time I had to gun down another racist cop or misguided freedom fighter for the cause of ever-increasing sidetracking, was that it wanted me to take things way more at face value than I was willing to.

    3. Michael R. says:

      I don’t understand why people say Bioshock Infinite isn’t as clever as it seems. I mean, the game has TONS of stuff to say about politics, redemption, and the nature of video games themselves, backed up by Greek-tragedy tropes and gameplay(e.g. Booker shooting everyone reinforced his psychopathy). It was genuinely clever and well-thought-out.

      PS: The shooting mechanics, although original and a nice break from cover-based shooters, were kinda “meh”, though.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        “I mean, the game has TONS of stuff to say about politics, redemption, and the nature of video games themselves, backed up by Greek-tragedy tropes and gameplay(e.g. Booker shooting everyone reinforced his psychopathy).”

        And pretty much zero to say about racism and the time period it was set in other than “racism happened a lot back then and in this fictional cartoon exaggeration, it happened in fictional cartoonish exaggerated proportions!”. The real problem it seems to me is that they kept the themes they decided to have from the beginning, but kept adding more and more themes along the way until the ending had almost nothing to do with the original themes.

        Originally the story was going to be about two warring factions, with the Vox Populi being obvious bad guys from the start with the Founders being slightly more sympathetic (and not nearly as overtly racist) before we find out their Evil True Intentions. What we ended up with was Obviously Cartoonishly Evil Founders, briefly fighting with the Vox and then against the Vox via Literal Plot Hole, and then Science Fiction takes over. The story was all over the place, when it should have been all Sci Fi or all Historical Commentary or all Sociological Commentary or all Character Focused or All Meta or maybe just two of the above.

        What did the Songbird even have to do with any of the rest of the game? Nothing, it was a hold-over from an earlier version of the story, and showcased too prominently in previews to erase it from the script. They should have had the Songbird literally be able to follow them through the portals, and then it might have made thematic sense.

        I still need to play Buried at Sea. I have it, I just haven’t gotten around to playing it.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          “And pretty much zero to say about racism and the time period it was set in”

          But does it have to?I mean if you set your story in medieval europe,are you obligated to comment on women having no right to vote?And its not really that outlandish.It was maybe a bit over the top for the time period,but not that over the top for just a 100 years before(which is basically one of the reasons these guys chose to live here).

          Now true,the game does point out racism,but only the first time is it used for shock value,and later its just a flavor of the setting,nothing more.

          The rest of the stuff you mentioned,however,I agree with.

          1. LadyTL says:

            When your game shoves racism in the player’s face repeatedly just to go OMG Rascism is bad!!! but then don’t go anywhere with that, it’s kind of fair to point out the pointlessness of including it.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Except it does it only once:the first time its encountered.The rest of the time,its either to give insight into bookers past(the wounded knee display),or its just the background,to give some flavor to the uprising.

          2. Ateius says:

            If your game is set in medieval Europe, it’s more than just women who lack the ‘right to vote’.

  17. Geebs says:

    RIP Waggleton P. Tallylicker. Shooters are duller without you.

    1. AJax says:

      Eh, I thought that was a pretty bad and dull section to be honest.

      Funny at first but it doesn’t actually play well in repeated playthroughs. Just let me keep shooting psychopaths without drawn out, gimmicky sections especially since the actual core mechanics of Bulletstorm are incredibly satisfying and solid.

  18. Darren says:

    There is one slightly insightful thing the game does. It is extremely profane, but it’s impossible to be offended because everyone is having such a good time and are clearly just ribbing one another. Until Sarrano arrives. He’s one of the nastiest, least likeable characters I’ve ever had the displeasure to spend time with in a game, and I think it’s entirely intentional. It’s difficult to articulate, but his profanity is not fun, it’s not funny, and it’s difficult to tolerate. Whether it was intentional or not, it’s an excellent way of distinguishing between the merely coarse and the truly offensive.

  19. poiumty says:

    As far as Bulletstorm’s concerned, I would’ve preferred it if they just let you do whatever finishers you wanted instead of them being required to get points to buy weapons to get more points. Emergent, dynamic gameplay is much better than making the rewards extrinsic to motivate seeing all of the cool stuff the devs put in.

    That was my biggest criticism about it. Otherwise, pretty good shooter.

  20. Veloxyll says:

    It’s been a while since I last saw it, but Bulletstorm has a lot of great character moments and development. Even though it’s not building on super complex characters. It manages to actually work through character conflicts.
    And it’s way funnier when you’re playing an ass like Grayson when you get yelled at for doing something stupid when the character you’re playing agrees with you.
    The gameplay + characters work together really well. Which shouldn’t be refreshing in this day and age, but it is.

    It takes a simple story concept that plenty of shooters have covered, and makes it have a narrative, while still being fun. Would recommend.

  21. Jokerman says:

    “Sigh. I don't mean that GTA5 is a horrible game. It's just that the game isn't nearly as smart or as clever as it pretends to be, and for all the heavy-handed satire the game throws at us it has very little to say about any of it.”

    “In contrast, Saints row is unpretentious. saints row isn't confused about its message, or throwing controversial topics at the screen like blood decals and calling it a message. Do you want to shoot some dudes? Here is an endless stream of uhhh… dudes. Knock yourself out. Do you want a bit of character development? All of the good guys get some kind of arc here. They're not big or fancy, but the journey changes them and how they relate to each other. All without breaking the flow of the game.”

    Fits pretty well, just came to me as i read that.

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.