E3 Hands-On: Bulletstorm is Everything Duke Nukem Forever Should Have Been

Nathan Grayson

Videogames have come a long way over the past decade. Nowadays, they can evoke all kinds of subtle, nuanced emotions and convey powerful experiences that have the potential to change the ways we think and feel. They can reveal shocking truths about the world around us, and maybe – just maybe – teach us a little something about ourselves along the way.

Or they can shoot a bunch of burly dudes in slow-mo before coming to the aid of a nearby, nearly dead ally and screaming, “You nearly scared the dick off me!” right in his face. They can definitely do that too.

Yes, Bulletstorm is loud, rude, and proud of it. Everything’s best in moderation, you say? Try telling that to Bulletstorm. It’ll yank you 20 feet into the air and then proceed to juggle you with a series of shotgun blasts, kicks, and unnecessary profanities before letting its good ol’ pal gravity impale you on a nearby cactus. It’s over-the-top. It’s gruesome. It’s ridiculous. It’s far and away one of the best things we saw at E3.

Read the rest after the break!

Have you ever played a game called Painkiller? If so, you’ll be right at home with Bulletstorm. It’s the latest wild child of Painkiller-creator People Can Fly, and it seems improbably primed to make its shuriken-and-lightning-gun-wielding predecessor seem tame by comparison. See, Painkiller was a shooter’s shooter. You had guns the size of trucks and enemies the size of truck factories. You pulled the trigger and bad guys went away. And that was pretty much it. No unneeded frills, no cover systems – none of that. The game didn’t cut corners; instead, it merely trimmed away unnecessary fat.

Bulletstorm, though, subscribes to the idea that it’s not the destination that counts. It’s the journey -- the painfully prolonged journey between life and death, that is. So let’s say you’ve encountered one of Bulletstorm’s big, bulky baddies. You could, of course, shoot him right between the eyes and be done with it. But where’s the fun in that? Through its “skillshot” system, Bulletstorm encourages you to get creative with your killing sprees. That headshot, then? It’s worth maybe ten points. So why not pepper the poor sap’s nether regions first, and then – while he’s still reeling – pop him in the noggin? That’s an easy 100 points.

And that’s only the beginning. Basically, Bulletstorm is the Burnout of first-person shooters. It rewards you for going out of your way to look as cool as possible – which inevitably means putting yourself in harm’s way to do so. Save your silly practicality for Boring Gray War Shooter 26. Bulletstorm is completely insane and it’s well aware of that.
So much so, in fact, that many of its weapons don’t even bother trying to make sense. For instance, you’ve got a whip. When you use it to lasso enemies and yank them toward you, they soar through the air in slow motion, while you and the rest of the world continue to zip along at normal speed. Why have the laws of time and gravity suddenly abandoned this poor man in his time of utmost need? No idea. But it looks completely awesome in action.

However, unlike co-developer Epic’s flagship Gears of War series – which blends chainsaw guns and cartoony over-the-top violence with a morose, trying-way-too-hard-to-be-“mature” storyline – Bulletstorm prefers to be laughed with, not at. That’s where the Duke Nukem comparison comes in. Bulletstorm’s main character Grayson Hunt will warm the cockles of the portion of your heart that went cold the second Duke Nukem 3D came to an end. This year’s E3 was defined by a lot of things, but the big three were motion control, 3D, and the near-universal laughter elicited by Hunt’s “You nearly scared the dick off me” line. Like Duke Nukem, Bulletstorm is fully aware of what it is, and Hunt’s purposefully awful one-liners are the icing atop an already delicious cake.

The Bottom Line:
Even with almost a year to go before its release, Bulletstorm already plays like a dream. It’s wild, over-the-top, and – most of all – fun, providing a plethora of options and rewarding you for wracking your brain to come up with new ways to splatter your enemies’. Better still, it’s absolutely hilarious, perfecting the style of videogame humor that Duke Nukem pioneered years upon years ago. It takes a very special brand of game to really hook us – to leave us scratching at our skin like addicts waiting for another hit. Bulletstorm had us feeling that way after one 15 minute play session. Yeah, this is definitely one to watch.

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