I have a very distinct memory of the base game that Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition was remastered from. I fondly remember downloading the demo for Xbox 360 in very early 2011 over my winter break for sophomore year of college. My high school-aged brother and I crowded around a CRT monitor after hearing about the swear-heavy, ultra-gory first person shooter around his school.
At the time we had our own FPS obsessions — he was deep in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 hole and I was very late to the game on the original Borderlands. Playing through the first few story beats of the game, I was enthralled by the gameplay — entirely different from the standard FPS fare, developer People Can Fly made a game that felt completely uncommon. Lassoing enemies, throwing them in the air, and kicking them (as well as the enemies behind them) into heavily-spiked cacti was a rush, and the cursing that tagged along with it just seemed to click with the vibe.
Then, after the demo wrapped up, I walked away from the game, hearing very little from my friends by way of impressions or how they liked it. I was actually pretty shocked to hear down the road that not only was Bulletstorm not profitable, but it had a cancelled sequel. Whether it got lukewarm reviews or the market was just saturated with first person shooters, Bulletstorm was easily an underappreciated cult classic back then.
More than half-a-decade later, Bulletstorm is making a triumphant return onto modern day home consoles and PC. Dubbed the Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, the game (published by Gearbox Publishing) sports 4K on PC and PlayStation 4 Pro, 60 FPS action on all platforms and a handful of new modes. But how does the game fare on its return to gaming’s forefront?
The outcome is more or less a mixed bag — Bulletstorm was revolutionary at its original release thanks to its refreshing brand of first-person, over the top action. Thankfully, all of that still holds up with no exception. Unfortunately, a lot of the previous generation’s worst issues also manifest itself, leading to one of the most disappointing ending chapters I’ve experienced in any game — but more on that later.
The basics: Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition follows Grayson Hunt, the brolic leader of a machismo band of space rebels vying to stick it to General Sarrano — a foul mouthed military leader who is corrupt, loud, obnoxious, and literally the worst. As you may imagine Gray is a raging alcoholic, testosterone heavy figure with a complicated backstory and heart of gold.
Also joining the cast of characters is Gray’s Japanese partner, Ishi Sato (lovingly referred to as “sushi dick” — yes, really) who is battling a computer implant actively trying to dominate his brain. Also joining in later is a soldier, Trishka, who far too often feels like the token combat-oriented female you see in any given action movie.
The point I am trying to illustrate is that none of this is by any means new — if I were telling you I was describing the next round of characters in Borderlands 3, I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised in the latest. The plot line is a serviceable revenge story that fluctuates between trying to provide a meaningful narrative and spitting out lines like: “Big tittied blowjob models with yellow fever! The fuck do I know?”
The result is a narrative that is remarkably unbalanced, and whole-heartedly uncomfortable. While I appreciate an onslaught of curse words like no other person on this planet, they were said so frequently and with such little impact that it became white noise — I frankly stopped paying attention to either story beats or anything else. Games like Borderlands 2 or South Park: The Stick of Truth have both managed to be far funnier with much less “try harding.”
Besides the cursing being barely funny, it seriously ruined whatever dynamic was building in the story. I would suffer a full body cringe whenever I got to sections revolving around General Sarrano who is in my top five most hated video game characters of all time. Without hesitation he could ruin a scene with obscene — racial slurs and bad acting draws you quickly out of the more serious tones the game is trying to flaunt.
Luckily, in Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition the narrative is hardly as important as the gameplay mechanics, which are a blast — literally. With an “echo leash,” players are able to grab enemies from 100 feet away, pulling them in with slow motion to line up destruction and mayhem across the map. The game gives you hundreds of skill shots to aim for — things as mundane as getting a headshot to as bizarre as launching three people on fire with a modified flare gun and shooting them all down before they die from the flames.
Players are further incentivized to make these creative skill shots as well. While you can easily shoot a person down with your standard gun for 10 points, you can attach a timed bomb to an explosive hot dog cart, kick it, and blow up tens of baddies, easily nabbing you 1000 points. And when points are the currency by which you are grabbing guns and upgrades, you want to chase after those high scores.
I rarely, if ever, got bored of messing around with the guns. With a diverse range of enemies and weapons that could easily rival Ratchet & Clank with their ingenuity, I was always slowly unlocking new upgrades and items until the very end. The different stages I ran through in Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition had various environmental traps and hazards to make planning my murder sprees a joy.
Bosses and minibosses, which there are a few, throw in a powerful blend of nuance to the formula. At one juncture I found myself living out Godzilla-like fantasies, at other times I was dodging tentacles from a multi-staged plant fight. Almost every boss was a dynamic, epic encounter that felt ripped out of a Michael Bay movie. That is, except the last few moments of the game.
Now, I have no intention of spoiling the story for a six year old game. That said, the last chapter of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition falls fate to the three Cerberus heads of last generation’s worst endings: bullet sponges, quick time events, and cliche endings with cliffhangers.
the last chapter of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition falls fate to the three Cerberus heads of last generation’s worst endings: bullet sponges, quick time events, and cliche endings with cliffhangers
Without going into story details, the last few moments of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition have you pitted against swarms of minibosses and fast moving tactical enemies who are a joyless punishment to fight against. The ending chapter will force you to rely on more cover-based shooting and standard gameplay — a far cry from the dynamic, crazy action that the game seems all about.
Following in that fashion, the final boss in the game is an extended quick time event with no satisfying conclusion. After seven hours of amazing, fast-paced, creative gunplay, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition chooses to lean heavily on quick time prompts, making the ending a chore.
Finally, the ending — clearly intended to lead to a sequel — is the milquetoast pandering that I was hoping the game industry had grown out of. While I hoped to see a satisfying resolution after an hour of monotonous gameplay, I was rewarded with a groan-inducing conclusion.
Moving from the problems of the base game, Full Clip Edition has obviously benefitted from the next-gen jump. Playing on my PlayStation 4 Pro, the landscapes and graphics are stunning, colors are vibrant and Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition normally runs silky smooth. While there were occasional texture and framerate hiccups, especially at asset-heavy sections, I was rarely brought out of the experience. Along with all of that, load times were nearly instantaneous — whenever I went from section to section I never waited more than 10 seconds.
Other new additions include an Overkill mode (think modified new game plus) where all weapons are unlocked and available to use at any point. On top of that, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition brings all the DLC and new Echoes (score attack sessions) and multiplayer which is already bereft of other people playing.
Notably there is a Duke Nukem Tour campaign option, that allows you to play through Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition‘s campaign as the King himself. While the execution sounds great, it is disappointing on two ends — the mode is a pre-order bonus or an extra $5 as DLC, and is entirely underwhelming compared to the packed in story. If you are missing out on this mode, I wouldn’t find yourself too concerned.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a blast from the past in some amazing and awful ways.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a blast from the past in some amazing and awful ways. Despite a horrific ending sequence, the gunplay, graphics and frame rates are enthralling even compared to current FPS games — an easy recommendation for those who missed out the first time. You will just find yourself wishing People Can Fly polished up some more archaic points of the game that drag down the experience.