(Image credit: EA)
Developer: People Can Fly
Bulletstorm is a powerful work of speculative fiction that interrogates the golden age sci-fi notion of the “pleasure planet”, deconstructing the idea of entire worlds being transformed into resorts for a wealthy elite and—nope, sorry, I can’t keep this up for an entire paragraph. Bulletstorm is a game about shooting people in the dick. It was crass even before they added Duke Nukem as DLC.
But it is actually set on a pleasure planet, a luxury tourist theme park world that’s been taken over by gangs of mutants and bandits right out of Mad Max. At one point you have to fight them in a nightclub devoted to classical music from Earth, which in the distant future of Bulletstorm means disco. Later, you find a miniature model city where guests were allowed to control robotic dinosaurs, tearing up a city center with Mechaton, the 26th century’s version of Mechagodzilla.
This is The Worst Family Fun Vacation Ever, a level that begins with you feeling like a giant as you take cover behind fake skyscrapers that are only a little bigger than you, then emerge to open fire on the Skulls gang who are ready for you to, as mentioned, shoot them in the dick. Or kick them into arcs of electricity, or use your flare gun to blast them into orbit, or any of the other creative ways Bulletstorm encourages you to murder people.
Before you and your cyborg pal Ishi enter there’s a moment of foreshadowing where you notice one of the remote-controlled cybernetic dinosaurs is missing from its cage. If you don’t know where this is going, I have a Jurassic Park to sell you.
Sure enough, the laser-eyed monster shows up and attacks, and since it’s indestructible you have to flee, fighting your way through the understructure of the Terror Dome. Eventually you’re cornered with nowhere to hide, but there’s also nowhere for the Skull who has been controlling Mechaton all this time to hide and—one quick-time event later—he’s lost both his head and his remote control. Armed with this 3D hologram dino on a plate, you get to take Party Grimlock on a rampage of your own.
Beyond the model city there’s a suburb of palazzos and villas and other fancy Euro words for houses, and Mechaton smashes up the lot of it. As well as laser eyes he’s got a stomp attack and there are plenty of Skulls for you to try it out on. They’re helicoptering more bad dudes in just so you’ve got more targets to shoot out of the sky. It’s a riot.
Unfortunately, this off-model Mechagodzilla can’t come with you the rest of the way through Bulletstorm and he eventually reaches a sad end, complete with somber military music.
Bulletstorm has plenty of spectacle moments, from fighting a giant wheel while on the back of a train to walking down the side of a building in gravity boots, but it does run out of ideas before it runs out of levels. This is the peak of its nonsense, the moment when Bulletstorm is most on its bullshit, and it’s a blast. It’s called The Worst Family Fun Vacation Ever, but really it’s the best.