Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Review – Cult Classic Chaos

Gearbox /

As one of the more unexpected titles to arrive in remastered form, does Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition make a good case for its return?

Developer: People Can Fly

Publisher: Gearbox Publishing

Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version Reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Release Date: April 7, 2017

“Shoot an enemy in the balls and kick or shoot his head off.”

This is just one of the many challenges listed in Bulletstorm’s “skillshots” menu, which players are encouraged to perform in order to earn more points in People Can Fly’s wildly inventive first-person shooter. Like a Quentin Tarantino film high on the whims of absurdism, Bulletstorm is a game which is at once both gloriously self-indulgent in style yet refreshingly intelligent in design.

When it first arrived on the scene in 2011, the game made for a breath of fresh air to the po-faced military shooters which otherwise dominated the market, as an experience which instead appealed to unadulterated hilarity over any notions of faux realism. Six years later, and Bulletstorm’s crass creativity still holds lessons for the genre today, with gratuitous gunplay that holds up remarkably well as an interactive circus of guilty pleasures.

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Bulletstorm’s mission statement is to prevent the player from ever killing an enemy just by shooting them. The still impressive skill points system, as enjoyable to play around with as it was six years ago, encourages players to test the limits of the game’s physics-based combat. Send enemies flying with your energy leash, sever limbs and cause immense collateral damage with your arsenal of abnormal weaponry, or just kick your hapless foes into all manner of environmental hazards and watch the fireworks of carnage play out.

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These methods of dispatch aren’t just an end in themselves, but ingredients in dastardly recipes for creating player-driven set-pieces of pure mayhem. For example, why not try leashing an enemy towards you, strapping him with a timed explosive, and kicking him back out towards his friends for an explosive multi-kill? If a deviously creative idea for taking out an adversary pops into your head, the chances are that Bulletstorm is already one step ahead, and can’t wait for you to turn your thoughts into action. While the incessant action does get a tad repetitive during the campaign’s later stages, it’s almost impossible not to have fun in Bulletstorm.

The vibrancy and vigour of the combat is enough to sustain the quality of Bulletstorm’s campaign already, but People Can Fly demonstrate an aptitude for careful craftsmanship through the game’s mission design too. One minute you’ll be controlling a giant mechanical dinosaur, the next you’ll be guiding sniper bullets into brains across a beach resort. It also helps that the environments are lush and often quite beautiful, with the main planet Stygia acting as home to a healthy variety of attractions, from abandoned theme parks to coastal metropolises.

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By all measurable accounts, Bulletstorm’s bellicose, hyper-hetero tone shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. Granted, the abundance of dick jokes and boorish slapstick isn’t to everyone’s tastes, and not all of the comedic punchlines have aged terribly well, but there’s some genuinely good writing that permeates Bulletstorm’s surprisingly good story, particularly through the way in which the campaign pokes fun at various shooter tropes. It is both impressive and rather tragic that this satire still hits the mark today, so many years after Bulletstorm’s original release.

Bulletstorm has always been a good looking game, but the brighter colours really pop on the screen with the added visual enhancements…

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition comes equipped with a full makeover, dressed up by improved textures, lighting effects, a healthier frame-rate, and even a 4K resolution option for PC and PS4 Pro owners. Bulletstorm has always been a good looking game, but the brighter colours really pop on the screen with the added visual enhancements, and some of the set-pieces still hold up incredibly well, confidently matching the spectacle of those found in contemporary shooters released today.

Considering the pace at which the gunplay operates, it’s important that Bulletstorm runs smoothly, and the improved frame-rate has only accentuated its ferocity and speed. The only downside is the game’s weird control scheme when playing with a pad, in which sprinting is mapped to one of the main buttons and crouching requires pushing in the left analog stick. The limited button configuration options are something that should have been reconsidered and subsequently overhauled for the remaster, but it’s more of an inconvenience rather than a deal breaker.

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The game’s arcade-like “Echoes” mode and cooperative multiplayer horde mode returns to the Full Clip Edition too but, even with all the previously released DLC, they fail to offer any lasting entertainment as a post-campaign bonus. Bulletstorm’s online content felt like a missed opportunity back in 2011, and I was hoping People Can Fly might use the re-release as a chance to add competitive multiplayer or a co-op campaign. Instead, that same sense of missed opportunity persists in the Full Clip Edition, and while both modes provide a few hours of entertainment beyond the story, there’s not a whole lot to dig your teeth into in the end.

If you’ve preordered Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, or are willing to pay up an extra five dollars for some day one DLC, you can also play as Duke Nukem for the entire campaign; an addition which I have mixed feelings about. Firstly, the randomness of this cross-brand promotion between Gearbox and People Can Fly suggests that this was merely a way for the former studio to capitalize on a character that they otherwise don’t know what to do with, and cordoning off this major new addition behind a pre-order paywall reeks of an anti-consumer philosophy.

Gearbox /

That said, Duke Nukem and the world of Bulletstorm really are a match made in heaven, and The King himself – fully voiced by Jon St. Jon – is depicted authentically throughout the campaign, with an entirely new script that suggests this clearly wasn’t a shoehorned afterthought. Duke’s presence doesn’t change the experience dramatically and comes across as an odd business decision more than anything, though, so his presence is certainly not worth paying more money for.

If you missed Bulletstorm the first time round, The Full Clip Edition leaves no excuses to impoverish yourself of this cult classic any longer. While there’s not a whole lot of compelling additions to the remaster, the ever gratifying pulpiness of Bulletstorm’s inventive and versatile gunplay – juiced up by a healthy assortment of technical improvements – justifies a return to the maniacal playgrounds of Stygia, even if some of the game’s more outdated components remain in need of a revision.. People Can Fly. . Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition. 8

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.