a review of Bulletstorm
a videogame developed by people can fly and epic [megagames] (most likely clifford bleszinski did everything)
and published by Electronic Arts
for personal computers, the microsoft xbox 360 and the sony playstation 3 computer entertainment system
text by tim rogers
In Bulletstorm, you get more points for shooting someone in the throat than you get for shooting them in the head. That about says it.
Another thing that about says it is that if you don’t shoot someone in the head while they’re alive, you can shoot them in the head when they’re good and dead and lying on the ground all ragdolled and still savor the animation where the head cracks and pops open like a bad, brittle fruit.
If this sounds like the Best Game In The Universe to you, stop reading this review. Reading is for chumps — all it’s going to get you is a university degree and a manager of a Blockbuster Video telling you you’re overqualified.
If you’re still reading, that means you didn’t get the warning in the previous paragraph re: reading being for chumps. So we’ll spell it out for you: neckshots are the new headshot. You shoot someone in the neck, and they scream and bleed. Our culture has changed: we no longer want to see shotdead foes’ heads vanish in plumes of red meat. Headshots are for noobs. We Of The Now want to see enemies’ throats spray, and hear our enemies gurgle. On the one hand, kids love it because it’s morbid. On the other hand, kids love it because the neck is harder (and thus more satisfying) to shoot than the head. Well, maybe in Gears of War, the head is harder to shoot than the neck — if you follow. Well, for Bulletstorm, necks are smaller than heads. The artists Epic usually hires for these things must have all thrown their backs out trying to outdo one another’s deadlift performance and were thus unavailable to create 3D models of human beings whose heads are accidentally, nonchalantly smaller than their necks.
On the third hand, you get more points for shooting someone in the neck than you get for shooting them in the head.
How do you make a game more satisfying than Bulletstorm? Well, you would start by inventing a game that could actually suck you off. Or maybe it would be more satisfying if, in addition to being able to kick dudes into the air before shooting them, you could shoot their bullets out of the air as said bullets approached you, and then your bullets would smash into their bullets, fusing them into super-bullets, which then smashed into the enemy with twice the impact, maybe rolling a whole bunch of enemies into a big katamari which then popped and sent them scattering if it hit a wall, or exploded if you threw a grenade at it before it hit a wall.
Well, what we have in Bulletstorm is a game where the enemies are all psychos, and you have the power to kick them — really hard — and watch them fly. If you shoot them while they’re still in the air after you kicked them, you get more points. Points are what you want, because getting them means numbers and words and exclamation points all over the screen. Getting points makes the game look like the back of a surefire blockbuster game box: big words, loud fonts, numbers, and numbers. After all, game boxes are what attract people to put the cash onto the counter: why cheat that expectation? (Seriously (no, not seriously (no, not not seriously (no, not not not seriously (no, seriously (no))))).)
Crucial: when you kick someone in Bulletstorm, they fly away from you in slow motion: Your boot is likely equipped with a time-travel-virus applicator.
Crucial: you can also dash in Bulletstorm. This means that, for a short period of time, you move very, very quickly.
Very Important: you can kick someone in Bulletstorm, then dash up to them, then kick them again. You can just keep dashing forward and kicking them until you are pinning them against a wall with your foot. You get bonus points for killing someone by kicking them, and bonus bonus points for killing someone by kicking them into a wall.
Very, very important (bordering on crucially important): it only takes a few kicks, really, to kill an enemy. It only takes one, if you kick them off a ledge — which is as fun as striding breezily and jumping over a narrow chasm in, say, any 2D platform game — or into a cactus — about as fun as stomping a Goomba, only bloodier.
However, the enemy doesn’t die until he touches the ground.
So you just get right up in his stuff and kick him as much as you want; once he’s against a wall, kick him into it, and he’ll oof and doof and crunch and stick and smack and bramp and fwoom and choom and shoom as you keep kicking him, smamp, smamp, bwamp, bwamp, kramp, kronk, biff, biff, et cetera. He doesn’t die for real, as far as your game machine’s computer processor is concerned, until you stop kicking him already and let him hit the ground.
Crucially Important: you use your points earned from killing and skill-killing (headshot an electrocuted-stunned enemy while he is flying off a cliff of fatal fall-height, et cetera) to buy ammo. Some computer thing the hero stole from the bad guys (it’s apparently the user interface of his laser whip, if you’re keeping score) is “grading” his performance and giving him “points” to buy bullets at encrypted supply depots. The bad guys have an achievement system, and they use it to determine which soldiers are worthy of receiving more bullets. Obviously, they don’t want dumb soldiers wasting bullets.
Hey! That’s a neat little story thing, right there! Let’s give the game three stars for that alone. Fuck you, Metal Gear Solid 4.
In summary: Bulletstorm contextualizes “achievements” and encourages you to grind them like a right sumbastard. Your reward for playing Bulletstorm is that you get to keep playing Bulletstorm. Play Bulletstorm enough, and Cliff(y) B(leszinski) sneaks into your home in a jump suit and ski-mask and gets behind your sofa — then, instead of strangling you like a normal person would, he gingerly pops off the top of your skull like it’s the plastic lid on a Pringles can. Then he massages your brain in the precise pressure point that causes you to become sexually aroused — figuratively!
If you play Bulletstorm with anyone else in the room, you will likely feel the need to talk to them about Bulletstorm. You will tell them things like, “I just got three hundred bonus bonus points for kicking a guy off a ledge and into a waterfall while he was on fire — for setting him on fire and then extinguishing the flames before he fell to his death — and then shooting him in his fucking cock nuts while he was hopelessly flailing in a bastard futile cartwheel toward his ****ed doom! In summary, friend sir, I just got three hundred bonus points for super-super killing some dumb jerk who was going to super die anyway!” Then, your grandmother calls the police (probably to complain that the air conditioner is broken (and the landlord isn’t picking up the phone)).
Reasons you might not like Bulletstorm: you’re someone’s mom. You’re someone’s girlfriend. You’re someone’s little sister. You’re someone’s grandmother. You’re not thirteen years old. You didn’t enjoy being thirteen years old. You don’t want to be thirteen years old again. At some point after you turned fourteen, you stopped listening to the music you liked when you were thirteen.
Bulletstorm is so manly, we had to change our website’s background color to purple, and change our fist icon to a unicorn just so we could post this review.
The game design document (GDD) for Bulletstorm likely contains an entire section made up of ascii art images of penises and boobies.
The technical design document (TDD) for Bulletstorm was likely one page — a landmark in an industry where these are usually a hundred pages or more — with the single sentence
centered, red, in Comic Sans.
The girl in Bulletstorm is white-hot. Hopefully someone is working on some CG fanporn right now. We here at Action Button Dot Net hope her nipples look like little penises — we call those Action Nipples.
Bulletstorm is an innovative game: for example, the main character is a space pirate instead of a space marine. And he has hair.
Instead of being a wise-cracking tough guy like Nathan Drake and the rebooted Prince of Persia character voiced by the guy who voices Nathan Drake (and every other male video game character), our hero dude here is a wise-cracking tough guy whom the female lead constantly berates. Our culture has sailed right over “kids like hearing tough dudes wise-crack girls into loving them” and landed right in “girls hate this jerk because he’s so cool, and he doesn’t give a fuck”. You know what — six generations from now, America won’t exist anymore. It’ll just be one huge stone pyramid, a continent-large, uninhabited Tower of Babel (it will take a lot of muscles, and a lot of wise-cracking tough dudes who either can’t get laid or don’t care to try).
In an industry obsessed with attacks where you push a guy off of or in to some thing or an other thing, Bulletstorm is unique for giving you a button to press to yank enemies toward you. You just press that button, and nine times out of ten, you’re going to be yanking someone right up in your face. You can use your electric yankwhip to do other things, too: clear away debris (your teammates don’t have an electric whip, so they have to wait for you to advance to their position — nice) or to rip open big venus flytraps so you can now shoot them in their slimy mouths until they die.
Mostly, however, you use the whip to yank dudes right up into your face, and then you shoot them — it’s easier to get a head shot if the dude is flying up right into your face in slow-motion, and it’s neat to get a headshot while the guy’s arm is flailing around shooting at gnats and buzzards and otherwise accidentally (or at least inadvertently) ignoring you, the dude who yanked him right up into his face.
Throughout history, many videogames that were either great, terrible, or just plain alright gave you the option to do something so stupid and yet so satisfying in its delicious unnecessaryness that every second spent not doing that thing is about as fulfilling as going to Starbucks and asking for a shot of whiskey and having the barista neither laugh nor even titter, like she’s heard that one before — like, come on, that can’t be something anyone else says as a joke; no one else thinks that’s as funny as we do (so lonely). Like, remember how you absolutely had to crouch and then jump into the falling magic wand at the end of an airship in Super Mario Bros. 3, so that Mario snaps out of the position where he’s clutching his hat and is suddenly standing in mid-air with the wand over his head, and if you forgot to do that you had to endure twenty-eight hard slaps to the face? Remember how you had to drop a long piece in Gameboy Tetris right into the Tetris-hole perfectly on a downbeat of the music, and if you failed to do that you had to turn the game off and scream “I hate you!” at yourself in the mirror sixty-two times? Yeah, we do, too! Well, Bulletstorm is a game made up entirely of those moments. Only now we are old enough to own butt-plugs, cigarettes, empty beer bottles, whips, and chains: suffice it to say, if you fail to whip, yank, kick, dash, kick, whip, yank, kick, dash, kick, whip, yank, dash, kick, throatshoot at least three enemies per set-piece (preferably the bullet enters the throat just as the enemy is rotated upside down) . . . you are going to be telecommuting for at least five days, that’s how bad it would be for your career if they saw what you did to your face.
You can kick barrels, and then shoot them out of the air just as they’re about to hit some dude in the face, like in that awesome scene in “Hard Target”.
You know what’s cool? The enemy variations are very subtle. I like that — they’re so subtle you literally never stop to go “Man, look how similar these guys are”. It’s feasible that the population of any given battlefield of psychos would just naturally look like that.
Bulletstorm’s level design is science the way Splenda is art. This game does not fuck around. It reaches right in and touches your brain. Tell you what: you prototype kick and whip actions like this, and the levels will basically design themselves. As long as they’re not, say, impossible for the person who made the level to get from the necessary point A to point B, some kid somewhere is going to have a whole load of fun with any given segment.
Someone we know said: “The Dinosaur Part is The Worst Part”. The Dinosaur Part is not actually the worst part, though the reason is maybe contrived: if you’re going to be picking “worst parts” out of Bulletstorm, you’re Not Doing It Right. This is a game you either play for five seconds before rolling your eyes so hard you sneeze fiercely enough to suffer amnesia or a game you lol at so thoroughly the neighbors tell the cops they suspect you’re torturing an innocent hyena over there — and hyenas aren’t legal pets in the state of North Carolina, so they should bring tazers.
It’s weird that some people who like Super Meat Boy don’t like Bulletstorm. Give it up, jerks.
You might say, aloud, while playing Bulletstorm, maybe while riding an elevator over the sea as the heroes make homoerotic jokes that are too subtle for kids and jocular enough for bros to be convinced the characters are only joking about being gay (spoiler: they probably are gay), “If it weren’t for all the psychos and dilapidation, I’d hang out here”. The foliage textures are fuzzy and tasty-like. The rock textures are like something off the front of a box of Count Chocula: “Enlarged to show texture”. Bulletstorm is “enlarged to show texture”.
The music in Bulletstorm is what would happen if you put Laserdiscs of James Cameron films and some hot water into a large enough food processor (maybe break the Laserdiscs first if the food processor is too small) and then tricked a bodybuilder into drinking the mixture.
Bulletstorm‘s soundtrack contains a battle theme that sounds like a bus full of Macbook Pros with Reason installed accelerated to 88 miles per hour, warped back in time to 1993, and crashed through the front window of a Tower Records in Chicago.
Bulletstorm is a realization of that mostly unspoken-of dream of men, that we could throw a tennis ball hard enough and fast enough from where we stand on the tepid ground to bounce it off a fighter jet in flight in the stratosphere above, and that we would have the reflexes and the testicular fortitude to catch that fuzzy yellow sphere, with one hand, when it returned to the space an inch before our face at terminal velocity a nanosecond later.
Bulletstorm is the catharsis of a Super Nintendo sound chip orchestra hit in each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of automatic weapon discharges you will painlessly and hatelessly endure while waiting for it to be finished waiting for you to be finished waiting for it to be finished with you.
Bulletstorm is a fucking stupid game. Bulletstorm is a fucking weird way for a culture to emphatically endorse the spending of fifty million dollars. Bulletstorm is a kick-ass way for a couple hundred dudes to make a living. Did you know that if retailers sold everything for cheaper, that would literally mean that everyone shopping there became, through the power of mathematics, richer? The world is broken! People are greedy! People are dying — and not just in Africa. They are dying right outside on the street below your surround system. They are dying in your living room and your kitchen. Bulletstorm is all like, fuck you, politics. Bulletstorm wants our children to not give a shit. It’s possible that Bulletstorm wants our children to not give a shit because not giving a shit is the first step to giving a shit.
Bulletstorm is about reaching out and touching someone with your gun.
Bulletstorm is a burlap sack full of hot, conceptually pleasant cuts of meat.
Bulletstorm is dumpster-diving behind a genius artist’s house.
We don’t condone drugs, though we’re pretty sure Bulletstorm is a lot like what would happen if you dropped acid before going to church, falling asleep, and having a dream about terrorists attacking tourists on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland.
Bulletstorm is nice, in a way. It’s down to earth. It’s cute. It’s got a real Turrican purity in parts. And then it has other great parts, like the parts where guys talk about penises, wieners, traffic cones, carrots, sausages, daikon radishes, balloon animals, hot dogs, flagpoles, soup cans, et cetera.
It’d be really cool if the sequel is called “Battlestrum”, and uses the Rock Band controller.
At the very least, plugging a Rock Band guitar into a USB port and then strumming the guitar-string-simulating plastic flap should make every enemy in a two-hundred-meter radius suffer a spontaneous red throat geyser.
Or they could call the sequel “Balletstrum”. That’d be cool.
They’ll probably end up calling it “Battlestrong”. How mainstream. Those jerks will never learn!
Once you start playing Bulletstorm, you will not stop until long after your bones have started to bleed. The average gamer will cream his jeans four times an hour while playing Bulletstorm; we, however, are not the average gamer — we cream our jeans sixteen times an hour while playing Bulletstorm, and we got as high as eighteen times this morning. If playing on a PC and while standing up and with your fly undone, exercise caution that you do not cheese all over your keyboard. Female gamers playing Bulletstorm are warned: see that bowl of M&Ms on your coffee table? You’re going to need that many morning-after pills per five minutes if you want to wake up tomorrow without a snarling firebaby inside of you.
In the world of Bulletstorm, body parts aren’t just the part of the body we normally associate with them: they are things which are connected to other things. A hand isn’t just a hand: it’s an Arm Hand. A finger isn’t just a finger — it’s a Hand Finger. Feet aren’t just feet — they’re Ankle Feet. Ankles, in turn, are Leg Ankles. Heads are Neck Heads, hair is Head Hair — you are seeing where this is going (with your Skull Eyes and your Spinal Cord Brain). Balls aren’t just balls: they’re Penis Balls. And breasts aren’t just breasts: they’re Dick Tits.
In the early chapters of Charles Dickens’ famous novel David Copperfield, the main character’s widowed mother finds herself on the receiving end of the affections of a man surnamed “Murdstone”, and you can’t help thinking, “I bet that guy’s a murderer!”
In the first thirty seconds of Bulletstorm, a character says to another character that an unseen third character is “stroking a murder boner”, and you can’t help thinking, “I bet I’ll be stroking a murder boner soon, too!” What you do not realize, you tiny baby who has yet to play Bulletstorm, is that once you start stroking that murder boner, you will never stop. For the love of all that is holy, this particular murder boner will never erupt, stroke it as you can, stroke it as you must. Ah, the world! Oh, the world! The love, you see, is in the stroking of the murder boner. You will stroke it for-ever and for good. In a crowded market of murder-boner-stroking simulators, Bulletstorm, with its sticky-enough friction, stands ahead of all other murder-boner-stroking simulators. Bulletstorm is the best murder-boner-stroking simulator of this month, and it will be the best murder-boner-stroking simulator of next month as well, most probably.
We won’t say if the Murdstone in David Copperfield is actually a murderer or not — if you don’t know what happens in David Copperfield and you’re actually taking the time to read a review of Bulletstorm on the internet, a reading of David Copperfield is probably a good idea.