Falling way back in 2011, Bulletstorm sadly struggled to stand tall among a crowd of established first-person shooters. Much like Homefront, which was released just a month after, Bulletstorm dared to be different, and despite receiving glowing reviews at launch, it failed to draw little more than a cult following. Developer People Can Fly has now resurrected their overlooked points-based shooter in hopes of giving it a new lease of life and a second chance of scoring a spot in the limelight. Recently, we got the opportunity to play the first hour of the game at an exclusive preview event hosted by publisher Gearbox Software, and we were pretty impressed with how things were shaping up.
Bulletstorm offers a similar experience to Borderlands in the sense that combat is adrenaline-fueled and there are many hilarious ways to tear your opponents apart. We found it difficult not to break into laughter during moments that had us kicking enemies into rotating blades and lassoing them straight into the path of a spikey cactus, for instance. Weapons feel unique and work to keep combat fresh - among our personal favourites are a sniper rifle, where you can control the trajectory of its shot, and the penetrator gun, which fires shredding blades at your foes. Further fueling your thirst for carnage is a list of executable skillshots, which requires you to kill your enemies in a range of creative ways for score-based rewards.
From a gameplay perspective, nothing has been drastically altered but you are able to tear through the entire adventure as Duke Nukem as a pre-order incentive, however. Instead, much time and care has been dedicated to enhancing the sound design and visuals, and, as a result, the Full Clip Edition convincingly appears as a title plucked from the current generation. Long gone are the blocky character models and grainy undertones of the original, and there are now some wondrously detailed environments that we found ourselves often pausing to fully embrace. Instead of settling for a slapdash copy and paste port of the original, People Can Fly have made a tremendous effort to help transport the six-year-old title into the modern age.
There's a competitive edge to its score-based carnage, and Gearbox seems confident that its appeal is likely to snowball, given the popularity of streaming. Speaking with us at the preview event they said that the devs "came to us and we thought it was a great idea, especially with how the gaming landscape is now. With streaming especially, you can find a stream of anything on Twitch, but it seems like a lot of the really popular ones are skill-based or over-the-top, and Bulletstorm seems to fit into that really well." Acknowledging Bulletstorm's lost potential, they additionally mentioned that it "was unique and kind of slipped under the radar and there hasn't been another game since Bulletstorm that has had its style of skills-based shooting - so we thought it would be a great time to try again."
Bulletstorm feels scripted like a B-list action movie, with protagonist Grayson Hunt reeling off many crude one-liners against the backdrop of explosions and bullet fire. When released, the title was slated due its clunky narrative and offbeat vulgar humour, but in hindsight we feel that its absurd tone ties in well with the over-the-top action and only lends to its charm. If we could draw up any complaints, it would be that there isn't the option to bring your friends along for the ride during the main campaign. Anarchy mode may offer four-player coop, but the real bulk of the fun offered here is through the main campaign.
It's been confirmed that the Full Clip Edition will revive the multiplayer component of the original release, giving you a second chance to delve into the two primary modes. Anarchy mode is a survival style mode where you and up to three other friends can team up to rack up points and pull off some insane team skillshots against progressively more difficult waves of enemies. Echo mode differs slightly, as it lends directly from the campaign and sees you fight in familiar territory to gain the highest score and attempt to dominate community leaderboards.
Its frantic action and satisfying gunplay hasn't aged a day and we're pleased to see the unexpected return of one of the last generation's most overlooked gems. As the last release wasn't a major commercial success, it shows that People Can Fly really have faith in the quality of the IP, dedicating the last 12 months to transforming it into a more polished product in hopes of connecting with a new audience. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition seems like a way for the studio to test the waters to see if the desired interest is there to warrant a sequel, and after seeing how much care and attention the studio has poured into just this remaster, it's hard not to crave for more after this has been released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on April 7.