Badassery. Gory shoot-outs. Foul-mouthed scoundrels in space. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition has it all. And more…
Disclaimer: this review is based on the experiences of one reviewer on one machine.
In an effort to milk the cow and give games an extended longevity on multiple platforms, developers and publishers often choose to ‘upgrade’ their games to next-gen gaming machines. Most of the time, this is done by improving the graphics of a game, and perhaps collecting all of the DLC that was previously released. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a special case, though, because rarely do we see a switch in publisher when releasing a game that is not that old yet. In this case, Electronic Arts was replaced by Gearbox Publishing (to enable including DLC that centers around a sexist, racist, misogynist cigar-smoking sunuvvabitch. At 45,99 euros (around 49 dollars) on Steam, this can be considered a rather expensive upgraded game. But is it worth it?
Bulletstorm centers around a group of elite mercenaries called Dead Echo, led by Grayson Hunt (an alcoholic foul-mouthed, hot-triggered, suicidal ex-black ops soldier). The story can best be described as a science-fiction hard-boiled 80s action-fest (I think I’m about to run out of adjectives here). Think Arnie in the 26th century. Don’t expect intricate plot-twists and subtle boundaries between good and evil. Hell, the synopsis for this game even sounds like one of those corny action movies, if you added Seagal and Vandamme: a group of black ops soldiers go rogue after finding out they have been assassinating innocent people for the last couple of years. As in any good script, their once-respected commander quickly turns into the main antagonist. Star General Sarrano is vigorously chasing them, eager to silence their voices. What follows is an action-packed adventure that has one main mission: kill Sarrano before he kills you.
In the Full Clip Edition, the level of 80-ness is drastically raised by adding the Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour DLC, in which you play as the Duke instead of Hunt. This means alternative scenes, dialogues, and even small changes in the plot. It is still to be seen as a gimmick, however, as this DLC just turns the ‘awesomeness’ dial far beyond the highest echelons of decency. It’s a fun addition for gamers who want to replay the entire game without focusing on the story. The Duke turns any game into a respectable B-game.
The Full Clip Edition also adds all of the DLC that was previously released (a couple of maps for cooperative online gameplay, some extra missions, some achievements and trophies) and an Overkill Campaign Mode, enabling the player to start the game with all abilities and weapons unlocked, thereby completely removing any challenge whatsoever. Mindless gaming alla Serious Sam and Duke Nukem. For those who like such things.
Graphics-wise, People Can Fly and Gearbox Publishing deliver what they promised: updated graphics and 4k-support. Sadly, this is simply a thin-layered veneer on an otherwise faulty engine. My gaming laptop (bought in 2015) can’t seem to agree with the engine (base 2011). Strange. Frame rates drop, visuals and audio start to stutter, and tinkering with the settings does not seem to work. A game that costs about 50 bucks should run on the general configurations, right? RIGHT!? On other platforms, the game looks good, so why not spend some extra effort into balancing this for PC?
Truth be told, this isn’t the first time that there are problems with the PC version of Bulletstorm. Their original release on PC was hampered by the poor choice of turning it into a (now discontinued) Games for Windows Live platform exclusive, meaning the majority of PC gamers were not able or simply didn’t want to play the game. Talk about limiting your market. Ouch. Sales were low, really LOW, and not just for PC. Critics were raving about it, though. In general, the game failed to make a profit for Epic Games and EA (calling it a “cult classic” is lying, you know), and it is indeed strange that Gearbox Publishing hasn’t learned from the mistakes of others. It is still the same game, with added content some deem ‘unnecessary’ or ‘simple sugar coating’. It’s like adding freshly whipped cream to a stale cake.
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition is a pricey ‘graphics update’ to the original game. Its extra game modes and added DLC can’t sugar-coat a PC version which is not optimized for the majority of systems. Only for those who don’t own the original game or for those who don’t mind digging a bit deeper into their wallets. My advice: wait for updates and Steam sales.