If ever a game deserved a second chance, it’s Bulletstorm. Though the original debuted just six years ago, the game went largely unnoticed at the time. So now, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is bringing it back to life by revamping the visuals and adding new content.On its face, Bulletstorm is an outrageously macho first-person shooter that careens through a gauntlet of linear corridors and over-the-top set pieces in a testosterone-induced frenzy. But beneath this bro-y veneer, it quietly shapeshifts into a clever, challenging puzzle game thanks to the addition of skillshots.
Rather than simply shooting everyone to death, Bulletstorm challenges you to off your enemies in increasingly imaginative and elaborate ways: kick them into fountains full of flesh-eating fish, lasso them into overgrown cacti, flatten them by bringing elevator cars down on their heads, and so on. There are well over 100 unique options in total, many of which indeed require serious skill to pull off.
Skilled players can even check the skillshot menu and deliberately attempt to tick every box on the list, a challenge that transforms the entire game. Enemies are no longer threats as much as they are opportunities–each one could be the canvas for another skillshot masterwork. It’s an incredibly novel and gratifying hook, one that fundamentally elevates the standard shooter formula to something transcendently arcadey.
And this is all in addition to the fact that Bulletstorm stands as a strong shooter even without its point system. The core aiming and movement feel tight, and added mechanics like the “instinct leash”–which allows crass hero Grayson Hunt to grab enemies across great distances and yank them in closer–along with the Titanfall-esque slide-and-shoot maneuver keep the action feeling fast and dynamic.
You also encounter new enemy types as you barrel through the campaign–some charge at you wielding explosives, others evade your leash with unexpected agility, but all offer some slight variation that helps keep the action from feeling too predictable. And of course, with every new environment come new hazards; it’s always fun figuring out that yes, you can kick enemies into that nearby turbine/chasm/hotdog cart.
Some elements of Bulletstorm’s campaign do feel stale, however. You’ll periodically encounter quick-time events, scripted set pieces, and on-rails shooter sections, and while none of these moments are bad, per se, they are design hallmarks of a game some years out of date. The campaign’s final chapters also become a bit of a predictable slog, diminishing your ability to be creative by hurling more and more obstacles at you.
Even with these highs and lows, the campaign holds up well–after all, its inventive skillshot system is a timeless idea. The story, on the other hand, remains an acquired taste. The script–which was almost certainly written entirely in all-caps–contains torrents of gratuitous swearing and some of the most painfully sophomoric humor ever to appear in a game. You may think you have an unlimited tolerance for dick jokes, but the only way to truly be sure is to play Bulletstorm.
What’s especially weird about all the cartoonish machismo is the fact that it comes wrapped in a relatively serious storyline about war crimes, personal responsibility, and moving beyond self-loathing in order to help those you care about. That juxtaposition is jarring, but in a weird way, it works. It’s a bit like The Fast and the Furious: if you’re willing to turn off your brain and accept the fact that you’ve signed up for a spectacularly stupid thrillride, you might just enjoy yourself (even if you cringe a few times along the way).
While the contents of the story and campaign have not changed since the original release, the multiplayer and visuals have both been updated. Even in 2011, Bulletstorm was a good-looking game awash in color, each area soaked in brilliant hues, perhaps as a reaction to Epic’s notoriously brown shooter, Gears of War. It’s no surprise, then, that Full Clip Edition also looks excellent.
Though it can’t compete with the splendor of current-gen titles like Horizon Zero Dawn, it by no means looks out of place on modern hardware. The colors are as vibrant as ever, textures appear crisp and detailed (until you zoom the camera all the way in on an object, at least), draw distances prove impressive, and the frame rate holds solid on both PC and PS4. I encountered a small handful of glitches–mainly dead bodies ragdolling through walls–but overall, this is a technically sound update. PS4 Pro and PC players can even enjoy the game in 4K.
The updates to multiplayer are less impressive. Full Clip Edition adds six brand new maps to the solo, score-driven Echoes mode and also includes the four additional Echoes maps, three cooperative Anarchy mode maps, and an objective-driven version of Echoes called Ultimate Echoes that were added as DLC following Bulletstorm’s original release.
Echoes mode in general isn’t all that exciting since each map is just an isolated snippet of the campaign–your score can earn you a spot on a leaderboard, but the gameplay, down the very last enemy, remains identical to how the section played out in the campaign. Consequently, the mode provides a convenient option for those who want a streamlined experience, but it doesn’t add much to the overall package. Full Clip Edition’s six new maps don’t change that.
The cooperative horde mode Anarchy is a far more engaging option, especially since each round forces you to exceed a preset score threshold. Often the only way to achieve the requisite score in later rounds is to successfully perform team-based skillshots, a mechanic that sets Bulletstorm’s horde mode apart from the rest of the…er, horde. Maps prove especially important in Anarchy since unique environmental hazards frequently provide the highest score boosts, so Full Clip’s inclusion of the old DLC maps was a smart move.
Finally, Full Clip adds two major pieces of fan service: first a “new game plus” option called Overkill Mode, which enables all weapons and skillshots from the beginning of the campaign. Annoyingly, you must beat the campaign before unlocking Overkill–a move that will surely irk returning fans looking to dive right in–but it’s a welcome addition nonetheless.
But the rest of the content, including the other character’s reactions and responses, remains unchanged. Your AI companion Ishi even uses Hunt’s name on several occasions. It is, of course, kind of hilarious to see and hear Duke in this new context, but his presence doesn’t meaningfully impact the story, let alone the gameplay.
For longtime fans, Full Clip Edition doesn’t offer much to be excited about. Additions like Overkill Mode and the upgraded visuals are certainly welcome, but fundamentally, this is the same game they already played in 2011. That said, the experience absolutely holds up: the skillshot system remains wildly fun and inventive, the weapons are still a gruesome joy, and the writing…well, it’s as distinctive as ever. If you missed Bulletstorm when it originally released–and based on sales numbers, you probably did–now’s the time to treat yourself to a clever if cringe-worthy blockbuster.
This is a six-year-old game and very much of its time, and it isn’t hard to see its vintage in the scenery and character design. However, Bulletstorm was one of the best-looking shooters of 2011, its vibrant alien planet setting always looked fantastic and the remastering team at Gearbox has done a fabulous job of upscaling textures and enhancing the effects and lighting.
The end result is a game that doesn’t look at all shabby by modern standards; not quite up there with The Coalition’s sterling work on Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, but really not far off.
Having said that, there’s one enhancement we could have done without. The Duke Nukem Bulletstorm World Tour pre-order bonus shoehorns the Duke into Bulletstorm’s storyline, complete with (slightly) revised cut-scenes and voicework from the iconic Jon St. John. Sadly, it’s pretty woeful stuff: badly written and unfunny, and stretched to the limits when it comes to working with the existing material.
It actually manages something miraculous: it leaves you feeling even worse about 3D Realms’ classic hero than you did already. Do yourself a favour and keep the option turned off.
While it isn’t quite the neglected classic some claim, Bulletstorm was always a fantastic, hugely entertaining FPS.Nothing about that has changed: this remaster does a good job of bringing the visuals more up to date, and if you’re an FPS lover and haven’t played it, you really should.