Video Game Review: 'Bulletstorm'

Filed under: Video Games

Rated Not for Kids

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know "Bulletstorm" is an extremely violent video game featuring gratuitous amounts of carnage. The core gameplay mechanic of this first-person shooter is a "skillshot" system that challenges players to be creative in his or her kills. For example, you can use your whip to pull an enemy toward you, kick him up into the air, and finish him off with a headshot. Bonus points are awarded for these moves. Enemies can also be beheaded, impaled, or blown to chunky bits. Blood spews everywhere. The game is also laced with very strong profanity, sexual references, alcohol consumption, and supports open communication in online play. Without question, this game is not for players under 17 years of age or those faint of heart.

The good stuff

  • Ease of play: "Bulletstorm" is quite easy to pick up and play, especially if you've played other first-person shooters in the past. Movement is tied to the left analog stick; the left trigger is to aim and the right trigger is to shoot. Other moves can be learned, such as sliding, whipping, and kicking.
  • Educational value: Meant to entertain rather than educate.

What to watch out for

  • Online interaction: The game is playable online for all three versions of the game: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Up to four players can play at the same time over the Internet in a number of multiplayer modes. A headset microphone is supported, which means players can talk to each other while fighting online. That means players may be exposed to foul language and inappropriate topics of conversation, and that they can share personal information.
  • Messages: The game offers no positive messages. The objective is to kill as many enemies as possible to get off of a planet, and players are rewarded for doing this in a creative fashion. There are plenty of sexual and alcohol references, and strong profanity.
  • Role models: You play as a space pirate, Grayson Hunt, who steals and kills for a living. At the start of the game, we learn he was tricked by his employer into killing innocent people when he was told they were serial killers, mass murderers, and gun runners, and he seems upset by this realization. However, Hunt and his cyborg partner Ishi spend the game killing mutants and creatures in creative ways and seem to enjoy the gory action.
  • Violence: Extremely violent, bloody and gory, Bulletstorm is all about "killing with skill" (as it says on the back of the box). From a first-person perspective, you'll shoot, whip, and kick human enemies and creatures. This includes blowing their head off (resulting in an explosion of flesh and blood), impaling them onto sharp objects, and kicking them into the air and filling them with lead. These sequences are slowed down for dramatic effect. Players are rewarded for creative kills.
  • Sex: The game contains many sexual references, including having sex with someone's mother (to insult them), contracting venereal diseases, and extreme profanity that refers to sexual acts or body parts ("c--ksucker," "mother f--ker," "d--kless," "shake that sweet little can of yours" and "son of a whore"). You can also shoot at the exposed buttocks of some enemies for bonus points.
  • Language: "Bulletstorm" contains extreme profanity, some of which is outlined in the "Sex" section. Other examples of its frequent and strong language includes "what the f--k?," "f--ked up," "I will f--k up your life," "shut the f--k up," "a--holes, "s--thead," "pile of s--t," "dogs--t," "a--maggot," "holy piss s--t," "hell," "damn," and many others.
  • Consumerism: Material in the box advertises other "Mature"-rated EA games, including "Gears of War 3," "Dead Space 2," and "Dragon Age II."
  • Drinking, drugs, & smoking: The main character can consume alcohol from a bottle, causing his vision to become blurred. If he kills under this effect he receives an "Intoxicated Skillshot" bonus. Dialogue includes phrases such as "you're drunk again," and "any booze left on this ship?"
What's the Story?

If the name "Bulletstorm" doesn't give it away, this is an extremely violent, futuristic shooter. It tells of a space pirate, Grayson Hunt, and his cyborg sidekick, Ishi Sato, who crash-land on the planet Stygia. Problem is, this once-peaceful vacation spot in the galaxy is now overrun by mutated criminals, flesh-eating plants, and larger-than-life boss characters. While trying to escape and exact revenge on their previous boss, the protagonists have to battle their way through hordes of enemies and navigate through dangerous environments. Played from a first-person perspective, the action is fast, gory, and over-the-top in presentation and gameplay.

Is It Any Good?

"Bulletstorm" can be fun, but only for those who enjoy violent and irreverent first-person shooters (think "Duke Nukem" and "Serious Sam"). At the heart of the action is a "skillshot" system that rewards players for performing kills in a creative function. By stringing your moves together -- kicking, shooting, whipping, sliding, and running -- you can create unique skillshots for bonus points. You can even pause the game to see which skillshots you've performed and which ones haven't been attempted yet. Along with the single-player campaign, the game has online modes and downloadable content. While not likely to win any "Best of the Year" game awards, this shooter will appeal to those looking for exaggerated action with gory visuals.

Publisher's Details

Developer: Electronic Arts
Released on: 2/22/2011, Price: $59.99, online enabled
ESRB Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol

This review of "Bulletstorm" was written by Marc Saltzman.

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