It may have struggled to light up the scene when it fell back in 2011, but People Can Fly's cult classic shoot 'em up Bulletstorm is now back with a vengeance and warrants your attention more than ever. Full Clip Edition features a major visual overhaul and even includes the opportunity the revisit the full adventure in the shoes of Duke Nukem. The remastered edition may be absent of fresh new content, but if this one somehow slipped passed you, there's been no better time to get acquainted.
Set some time during the 26th Century, Bulletstorm follows Grayson Hunt, leader of the black ops assassination unit Dead Echo, after he faces betrayal by his former leader, General Serrano. Battling alcoholism and the scars from his past, you'll command Grayson who is accompanied by and his part-robotic ally Ishi, in tracking down the general after crashing onto the mysterious planet of Stygia. While the script is chock-full of one-liners and Grayson's signature sarcastic humour, the narrative just falls flat as it's without the support of an engaging cast of characters.
Fortunately, while Bulletstorm staggers and stumbles trying to piece together a compelling narrative, it excels through its high-octane action, where creativity is handsomely rewarded. Tethered to your wrist is an electronic whip, which you can use to send your enemies soaring gracefully through the air and into the path of gunfire or environmental booby traps. Scattered across Bulletstorm's linear shooting arenas are hazards such as explosive hot dog carts, man-eating plants, and rotating fan blades, meaning that at times a kick in the right direction is all that is required for a gruesome end to your foes. Your core weapon choices might be slightly limited, but there's the option to charge your weapons to add a secondary, more powerful effect.
For every kill you'll receive a set number of skill points, which vary depending on how attainable the skill shot you've executed is and whether you've unlocked it before. This is by far where we had the most fun with Bulletstorm, working our way through the wacky list of skill shots gave combat a new purpose and made progression that much more entertaining.The skillshot system encourages creativity and forces you to move away from sticking to one particular weapon or strategy. Drinking bottles of whisky, smashing news bots to pieces, and reacting swiftly to key events will also grant you additional points. Once you've gathered enough precious skill points you can invest them in upgrading your clip capacity, unlocking new abilities and charges, and purchasing new weapons.
While gunplay does feel snappy and responsive, the control scheme is majorly bogged down by a few questionable choices. Holding the Y button (on Xbox) presents the weapon wheel, but by tapping Y it also works to alternate your current weapon, which can be awfully slippery at times. There's also no option to jump, which limits your flexibility during combat and the only way to move over objects is to approach them and wait for a prompt to appear. Sure it may not majorly detract from the fun, but if People Can Fly were striving for a truly definitive version then they should have given the controls a second look.
Rather than simply splashing over a fresh coat of paint, the remaster has completely reshaped the original title and its improvements can be seen in every pore, from its more detailed character models to its now wondrously beautiful locales. People Can Fly have worked to polish the title in every aspect, which is admirable as they could have opted for simply porting the title to newer consoles. Bulletstorm may start to show its age in places, but it's hard to believe that the original title celebrated its sixth birthday just a few short months ago.
Outside of the main campaign is a score-driven Echoes mode, where you'll visit some familiar-looking locations and work to pull off as many unique skill shots possible (there's even a handful of new maps included). Here you can compete against friends and others in the community to gain the highest leaderboard score, but only time will tell if this will become fiercely competitive. There's also Anarchy mode, which is similar to horde modes as seen in Saints Row 3 and Gears of War, as you'll fight alongside friends to survive as many waves of enemies as possible. Both modes allow you to embrace Bulletstorm's maximum carnage without having to trudge through elements of the story. What is disappointing, however, is that it still lacks the option to play through the campaign in coop, which is something that worked so well in the Gears of War titles, and would have likely done so here too.
While Bulletstorm undoubtedly offers a great experience regardless of whether you've played previously or not, there's no overlooking the fact that the remaster is absent of any additional content. True, both DLC packs - Gun Sonata and Blood Symphony - are included and there is the new option to play through as Duke Nukem as well as sample some new maps in the Echoes mode, but returning fans should have been offered more of an incentive to make a comeback. The Duke Nukem Tour is pretty impressive, complete with the original voice actor and a reworked script to better suit the iconic character, but as it stands it's currently only a pre-order bonus. For a six-year-old title that's arriving at near-full retail price, we felt something more substantial should have been added to warrant the price tag.
Returning as action-packed and as bloody as ever, Bulletstorm has survived the test of time and still delivers as a thoroughly enjoyable first-person shooter experience. The Full Clip Edition has delivered a major visual overhaul and, while there's no new content or cooperative option for the campaign, it's still worth a second look. With a sequel currently hanging in the balance we can only hope that Bulletstorm is able to attract a more formidable following this time around, but only time will tell if this forgotten classic will be given yet another chance to shine.
Loading next content