STAFF REVIEW of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition (Xbox One)

Saturday, April 8, 2017.
by Kirby Yablonski

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Box art I did not play Bulletstorm when it released in 2011. It was a new IP that was developed by People Can Fly and EPIC games, the latter being the company that created the Unreal Graphics Engine. It was an FPS game that just didn’t interest me even after all the PR hype and trailers were released. Fast forward to 2017, it seems that People Can Fly want gamers to have a second chance to experience their game. Bulletstorm: The Full Clip Edition is a remastered version of the 2011 title with a few added bonuses thrown in. So, without any reservation I thought it was time to see what all the hub-bub was about six years ago, and simply put, I can see why so many people enjoyed it.

You take on the role of Grayson Hunt, leader of a ragtag squad called Dead Echo. You were once a government funded “hit squad” under the direction of General Serrano. During the game’s first couple of stages you discover that General Serrano wasn’t totally honest with you and that you were basically doing his dirty work, as he was misleading you to kill innocent people. You have a chance to avenge the lies and deceit that were thrust upon you and your squad, and it’s this lust for vengeance that fuels the story, particularly why you find yourself on the abandoned resort planet of Stygia where you crash landed and are now looking for way off. It also plays into how your sidekick, a cyborg named Ishi, came to be and why he fights alongside of you.

What is great is that the story starts right from the start, and it’s all playable, not just some cutscene or two. There are a few twists and turns during the story’s 7 Act campaign, and I enjoyed it. Sure, it’s not a Pulitzer Prize winning narrative, but what many people have to understand is that the game does not take itself seriously, even though you’ll find some serious messages in it. This is evident from the dialog that takes place throughout the whole game. Yes, it is juvenile, and not for the ears of young ones, but it doesn’t try to be something else during the game, as the one liners, full of cussing and inappropriate jokes, are the mainstay of all the character’s banter. Some lines may make you cringe, if not from the ‘raciness’ of the comment but to how cheesy it may be.

One-liners aside, it really comes down to the gameplay and how Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition feels. As an FPS game, I was quite impressed with how smooth the game felt. The controls are good and aiming/shooting is pretty spot on. If I had one complaint it is the cover button, which is assigned to pressing down the left analog stick. I wish the cover would ‘lock’ so I did not have to continue holding the stick down. Minor complaint in the big scheme of things though. Overall the game’s control helps make the game what it is, as it’s a fairly refined experience.

One of Bulletstorm’s main features is that you have an ‘instinct leash’ along with a ‘boot to the face’ attack, and by using these tools, along with the various weapons in the game, you can dispatch enemies in creative fashion. This is a main attraction because it fuels the “Skillshot” system. This system rewards you for how stylish you kill your foes, and you can buy upgrades for your weapons, charge shots, as well as more ammo. These kills aren’t only weapon related, but environmental too. Nothing like grabbing an enemy with your leash, pulling him to you, and then kicking him into a cactus or venus-flytrap like plant to kill them off.

As you get more weapons (you can assign two special weapons to the left and right d-pad, while having the standard machine gun always available) different skillpoint shots open up. You’ll come across DropKits that allow you to upgrade your weapons and see the skillshots that you can be rewarded for in terms of weapon kills and environmental kills. The list is LONG as there is a lot of ways to kill your enemies, and some are VERY creative. Don’t worry though, as you don’t have to do every skillshot in the list to have fun with the game, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

When playing the single player campaign on normal mode I managed to get through the game in about 7-8 hours. I did this over a weekend, playing when I had time away from my kids. There was a time or two where I thought I was nearing the end, but it wasn’t and there was still more to play. I found myself enjoying the experience all the way through too, from exploring the environments to finding new and gruesome, ways to kill the enemies I faced. There were times that I felt the game might get repetitive for people, as you may rely on just killing in the same fashion for stretches at a time, but overall the pace of the game is intense enough, and there is a nice mix of things to do (e.g. use a chain gun during a railcar sequence or control a remote control dinosaur-like robot and lay waste to enemies) that the game itself never gets too stale.

If you’re looking for more than the single player campaign, there are a couple of different modes in the form of Echoes and Anarchy. Echoes has you playing in a specific part of a campaign level, earning a score. This part of the map plays out like that in the full campaign, so you’ll be fighting the enemies like you did in the story, but in small snippets and to place on a leaderboard. Anarchy on the other hand is a horde-like cooperative mode. Here you must beat a target score in order to continue, and to be successful you need to comple team-based skillshots. For example, one player kicks an enemy into the air while the other kills him with a well time shotgun blast. You’ll be able to use your environments, for even higher scored skillpoint kills.

As this is edition of Bulletstorm is called “The Full Clip Edition”, there are a few bonuses that come with it. There are six new maps added for the above referenced Echoes mode, and all of the DLC that was included in the original game also comes included. There is also a new game mode called Overkill. This opens after completing the single player campaign and it enables all weapons and skillshots from the beginning of the game. If you manage to pull off all the skillshots for certain, or all, weapons during your initial playthrough, you get unlimited ammo in Overkill Mode for that particular weapon.

One of the biggest additions comes in the form of Duke Nukem’s Tour mode. You’ll play through the whole campaign, but instead of the role of Grayson, you’ll take on the role of Duke Nukem himself. It’s a pretty interesting concept given that all the dialog that is supposed to be Grayson’s is now Duke’s, and there are Duke specific dialog to be heard throughout that is not heard in the original campaign. It’s unfortunate for us here at XBA as we had to delay our review to check out what Duke had to say in the game given that the DLC would not open until the actual launch day on the Xbox One. But you know what, waiting to play as Duke was somewhat worth it and it added to the second time I played through it. It’s a nice addition to the game indeed, but do note, you had to have pre-ordered it to get it with the game and if you didn’t, it’s worth $4.99 on the Xbox Store. We have been contacted by the PR company who state that dev-team People Can Fly are aware of some lip-syncing issues with the Duke dialog, and we have been told that they are working on a patch to fix it.

Presentation wise, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition holds up quite well. The visuals look somewhat enhanced and like they belong on the Xbox One. On the other side of the coin though, you will find some textures that are indeed a throwback to the Xbox 360 days, as well as some character animations at times, including during cutscenes and some gameplay. It doesn’t ruin the atmosphere of the game, as it’s a pretty good looking game overall with long draw distances, good level design, and interesting character model choices, it’s just that the game is 6 years old for goodness sake. But don’t let that fool you, technically it’s solid as I only ran into about three instances of slowdown and no major issues beyond that. As for the sound, I played using a set of headphones as I didn’t want my kids to hear the game. The audio is pretty good. It’s directional with great weapons sounds, good environmental effects, and I actually enjoyed the juvenile banter that went on between the characters. As for the music, it really matched the on-screen action, especially when you are in a heated battle with many enemies.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a solid remaster and is a game that many should have some fun with. It has enjoyable gameplay, visuals that manage to look good, control that is spot on, and the experience as a whole is fun. As a game experience, it’s definitely worth picking up, but I find myself having difficulty telling you to buy it at the full price of a new retail game. If you can get a deal on it, pick it up without question; however, if you’re on the fence, it might almost be worth waiting, given the full price you’ll have to pay for a remastered game.

Overall: 8.2 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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