Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.
Released in 2011, People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm was one hell of a game. It was crass, rude, violent – all the things I look for in a video game – and what’s more, the gameplay was absolutely beautiful. Despite the overwhelming praise it received from critics however, it was a commercial failure – the planned sequel cancelled as a result. It didn’t deserve the lacklustre sales it achieved, but as a new IP that was a little on the crazy side, it was always going to be a hard sell. As I said, sometimes life just isn’t fair.
With the IP wrestled from the hands of its previous owners, Epic Games, People Can Fly are hoping for more success with the title six years on. They’ve updated the visuals and added yet more content, making this remastered version of Bulletstorm – dubbed the Full Clip Edition – the ultimate entry point for newcomers but still enticing for old-time fans. Hopefully more people will take notice of it and jump on board at launch, although its £40 price tag will undoubtedly be somewhat of a barrier for many.
The core of the game remains exactly the same as it was – you have a single player campaign that will take you around eight hours to make your way through, an arcade-like Echoes mode where you’re playing to set high scores on a multitude of maps, and then there’s a wave-based co-op multiplayer mode called Anarchy to engage in. It’s a decent line-up of modes if I say so myself. It’s the gameplay at the centre of them all that drives Bulletstorm to greatness however; the over-the-top and fast-paced first-person shooter action that rewards you for killing enemies in style.
Sliding into enemies to get them airborne before opening fire on them with your machine gun will result in a basic Bulletslide attack bonus, for instance, whilst shooting a rotund boss with a charged drill-like penetrator round and then sticking the boot in for good measure is a more advanced and elaborate tactic that comes with greater reward. The points you earn for killing enemies in a myriad of creative ways enables you to unlock more weapons for your arsenal, as well as upgrade their ammo and charged shot capacity. Factor in that you may also need to buy ammo with your points from time to time, and you have a system that rewards skilful and tactical play with yet more means to engage in it.
New to Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition are two additional modes that go some way to add more fun and challenge to the overall package. Overkill mode enables you to replay the main campaign once you’ve completed it, but this time you have access to all of the guns right from the outset, letting you get really creative with the kills. As a bonus, completing all skillshots with a particular weapon also unlocks unlimited ammo for it, which is pretty great. The Ultimate Echoes mode, on the other hand, presents you with a number of challenges to complete on each of the standard Echoes maps, getting more fiendish as you progress. With less of an emphasis on trying to get a high score, you’ll find yourself having to defeat enemies without the use of guns or only performing certain types of skillshots. As a result, they’re definitely quite demanding, making this mode great for those that have mastered the gameplay seeking a test of their skills.
It’s testament to just how good Bulletstorm is that it never feels like there’s an unintentional lull in its momentum. It’s a title that’s thoroughly engaging from the moment you sit down to play it, no matter what mode you find yourself in. There are moments in the campaign where the gun-toting action takes a backseat to light story exposition or adventure, sure, but they’re carefully chosen to provide relief from the barrage of enemies that are thrown at you on a regular occurrence. The only way you can really tire of the action that Bulletstorm provides is by lacking the soul to take the tools provided to you and create carnage by running wild. I mean, playing it like a standard first-person shooter where you exchange bullets tit-for-tat functionally works, but you’d be missing the point. You’d be playing it wrong.
As remasters go, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition would be perfect if not for one issue that rears its ugly head a few times during play: slowdown. You can tell that a lot of work has gone into making this version of Bulletstorm look great, and indeed it does, but during my time playing it on Xbox One there were a handful of occasions during combat where everything got to be a bit too much for the hardware. It never became unplayable, but when the game mostly runs at a solid 60fps you tend to notice when it drops. Outside of combat there were a few instances of the game stuttering too, presumably the result of it loading new assets as you progress.
Even taking into account the slight technical issues, as a fan I couldn’t really be any happier with Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition. It brings one of the most underappreciated gems of the last generation up to date for a whole new legion of players to discover and enjoy, and though it’s now six years old, the gameplay hasn’t aged one bit. If you like your games to be full of crass humour and violently creative action, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is absolutely essential. Those who have played it before however, may rightfully balk at the £40 asking price. The newly added bells and whistles just don’t quite justify it, unfortunately.