Bulletstorm Review

If you ever find yourself defending the artistic and intelligent nature of modern video games, hope those debating against you have never seen Bulletstorm in action...

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If you ever find yourself defending the artistic and intelligent nature of modern video games, hope those debating against you have never seen Bulletstorm in action. The newest shooter from the Epic Games-owned developer People Can Fly, is an over-the-top title that revels in its childishness rather than hide from it. Bulletstorm's story and characters are crass and juvenile. They take their cue from the action. It sets the tone by rewarding players for shooting enemies in the anus, for example, and spewing off more mentions of "dick" than a Nixon documentary. It's the sort of thing that, as a guy approaching his 30s, I should turn off and walk away from in disgust for wasting my time. But I didn't because the entire experience was so damn fun. But Bulletstorm takes its time getting to the fun. The game begins as a standard first-person shooter (FPS) affair, where it does very little to shine as anything more than mundane. As Grayson Hunt, leader of an "in hiding" ex-military squad that seeks revenge against the general that sent them on dirty missions, players are armed with a standard assault rifle and a pair of hefty boots before the current story for Hunt and his team unfolds. Once the stage was set, though, Bulletstorm showed off its creative side. There are a lot of elements that make Bulletstorm stand out: the ability to slide into enemies and kick them into the air; roping enemies your way via a powerful energy leash (both previous examples suspending enemies in midair for a limited time); and the aforementioned big boot, for example. But the main attraction is the game's "Skillshot" grading system. With Skillshot, killing enemies gives you points. The more creative you are in dispatching enemies; the more points you gain. These points act as the game's currency to upgrade Hunt's arsenal. With over 130 possible combinations, the Skillshot injects a leaderboard and Achievement mentality to the core shooter experience. The action transforms, in a sense, into a puzzle-strategy game. Bulletstorm eventually ramps things up with bigger baddies (mini-bosses and main bosses), but terrorizing the endless stream of peons ended up being the most fun. With his energy leash and an arsenal of creative and immensely entertaining weaponry, Hunt might seem overpowered against the mostly run-and-gun style A.I. However, the game isn't so much a challenge of difficulty as it is a challenge to see how far you can push the envelope just before you fall. When considering this gameplay system of "comboing" enemies, Bulletstorm reveals itself as a secretly intelligent game wrapped in a childish shell. Actually, I should amend that: an intentionally childish shell. Not only does Bulletstorm not take itself seriously, it makes fun of itself on countless occasions. Had this game sported the same serious undertone as Epic's Gears of War franchise, the end result would have been comical for other reasons. Bulletstorm's script--which the game credits to comic book writer Rick Remender--is the sort of thing I imagine was jotted down on multiple cocktail napkins between shots of tequila. That isn't a shot at Remender or People Can Fly, but the entire thing is a gag to help push gamers toward the next bullet-craving anus (a phrase I'm as disgusted to write as you are to read). It's not deep or thoughtful, but the the story pushes along nicely. I was surprised that by the end of the foul-mouthed experience, Grayson Hunt evolved from a moronic, drunken pirate to someone who is on the cusp of learning valuable life lessons. Yes, all this from a game with a special skill called "Gang Bang." Personal taste is going to dictate how much you can take from the characters throughout the ten hour single-player campaign. For the first few hours I shook my head at the game's writing in favor of having fun with its mechanics, but soon I started to get into it. Beyond the campaign, Bulletstorm includes a single-player, score-based mode called Echoes. This mode takes pieces from the game's levels and grades players based on completion time and Skillshot points. It's a nice addition that gives players the ability to rank themselves versus their friends list. There is also a wave-based survival mode called Anarchy for up to four-players. The draw here is that players can combine for team Skillshots.

Bulletstorm is like an R-Rated buddy cop movie, fueled by a limitless financial and creative budget.

PC gamers will be disappointed that the game lacks field of view options and locks the framerate and mouse smoothing. The only solution to change these settings is by editing the game's .ini files. Though the game supports NVIDIA's 3D Vision, the best results I could get were when the 3D effects were adjusted to the lowest possible setting. It did, however, add a nice flair to the action. In a lot of ways, Bulletstorm is what I assume the Duke Nukem universe would have eventually evolved into if the series hadn't stalled. There's a constant wink to everything as though the developer is telling the player, "Yeah, we know this is wacky as hell." At the same time the game bathes itself in its insanity and challenges players to forget what they expect from a shooter. But what players should expect is a wild and fun ride from start to finish.
[This review is based on a final version of Bulletstorm for the PC, provided by Electronic Arts.]
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From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 28, 2011 12:30 PM

    Comment on Bulletstorm Review, by Xav de Matos.

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 12:35 PM

      Summary: It's a review. For Bulletstorm. I'm not sure what else I could tell you at this point. It's good?

      • reply
        February 28, 2011 12:45 PM

        Yup, good read, might pick it up based on this...

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        February 28, 2011 12:47 PM

        PC gamers: please see second to last paragraph.

        That's all I would add to your wonderful summary.

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          February 28, 2011 12:49 PM

          PC Part: PC gamers will be disappointed that the game lacks field of view options and locks the framerate and mouse smoothing. The only solution to change these settings is by editing the game's .ini files. Though the game supports NVIDIA's 3D Vision, the best results I could get were when the 3D effects were adjusted to the lowest possible setting. It did, however, add a nice flair to the action

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            March 3, 2011 7:08 PM

            I guess that if this game dosnt run or play properly on some PC's that YES you may need to edit those INI files but on a high spec System like mine this Game ran 100%, never stalled or anything ,Graphics are awesome and the gameplay is pretty dam fast to ,lots of action ,specially when Godzilla pops up,lol.I was verry impress'd with the huge graphics unlike other games .Cant wait fo Part 2 if they ever consider it doing ...............
            Ciao

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        February 28, 2011 12:51 PM

        I read somewhere that the PC version was shit? is this true?

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          February 28, 2011 12:53 PM

          I played it on PC. Other than the customization issues, which you could modify yourself, I didn't find it to be a bad experience at all.

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            February 28, 2011 2:05 PM

            Thanks, I may have to go get this now and give it a shot.

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          February 28, 2011 12:56 PM

          It was shitty when you play it out of the box, but there are several articles that help you edit the ini files (including the ini editor) allowing you to change the FOV, turning off mouse smoothing, etc (even 'cheat' by modifying the AI values).

          I played around with these for less than 30 minutes, and after that I had no problems whatsoever playing the game. It is actually quite stable (never had any crash except for when I quit haha), and the graphic is pretty nice. So far I havent seen any delayed texture loading as well...Seems to be good 25 bux spent (yea, i got it from another channel, legit though)

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            February 28, 2011 2:08 PM

            you have any links threads already available for these specific tweaks? FOV and Mouse smoothing are something I would change right away

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          February 28, 2011 12:58 PM

          it's fine, depending on how particular you are with settings. if you're cool with the built-in, you're golden

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          February 28, 2011 12:58 PM

          the only thing I changed was turning mouse acceleration off

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          February 28, 2011 1:00 PM

          I had some hitches that seemed to be related to level loading, which sucks. It didn't ruin the game for me but it might for some. There are some ini tweaks I'm trying to see if I can fix that.

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          February 28, 2011 1:10 PM

          just finished the pc version. can not confirm this. ran very well and I did not bother with editing any ini files or such. also: tons of fun!!!

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          February 28, 2011 1:26 PM

          No toggle-aim down sight which fucking blows, some of the menus have literally no mouse navigation., the game itself if tons of fun though.

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            February 28, 2011 2:06 PM

            have you tried glovepie for the ADS script?

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              February 28, 2011 2:17 PM

              I second the use of GlovePIE, that program kicks ass and has saved me from so many games that wont let you edit certain keyboard commands.

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          February 28, 2011 1:45 PM

          PC version was great! the graphics are incredible, and with a little tweaking it plays like a PC game and not a console shooter

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        February 28, 2011 1:20 PM

        Nice, agree, buy the game NOW(if you have not), PC version rules once you unlock the config stuff FOV etc.

        "In a lot of ways, Bulletstorm is what I assume the Duke Nukem universe would have eventually evolved into if the series hadn't stalled. There's a constant wink to everything as though the developer is telling the player, "Yeah, we know this is wacky as hell." At the same time the game bathes itself in its insanity and challenges players to forget what they expect from a shooter. But what players should expect is a wild and fun ride from start to finish."

        Yup ^^^^^^

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          February 28, 2011 1:25 PM

          Bulletstorm is a FPS masterpiece that goes beyond your cookie cutter FPS and blows it up to the next level and adds progression while not sacrificing fun.

          My thoughts in one sentence above \m/ you can not loose, this is not a sloppy spawn bot aka a Shake and Bake FPS.

          Bulletstorm = Win

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            February 28, 2011 4:20 PM

            I disagree. I feel the complete opposite and I feel that Bulletstorm is exactly the next cookie cutter game.
            Its pretty much like they took UT and removed the jump button, then added a bunch of 9yr old dick jokes.
            I haven't cracked even a hint at a smile the whole time I've played so far...

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              February 28, 2011 9:15 PM

              Hate to break it to you "9yr old dick jokes" this was only in the trailer the real game is not like that at all, did you even play the game?

              As far as being UT I don't know what your talking about, maybe you could say it like Gears with out the jump but UT thats a freaking Death match game dude. And the whole killing system nothing has this system.

              So the fact that the game has:

              - new slide gameplay
              - rpg lite weapon upgrades
              - the whole killing skill system and unlocks
              - a upgrade store and progression
              - the whip
              - slow mode
              - its fun
              - etc

              I don't understand the game has a real good story and you also actually care about shooting and how you kill the mobs for it matters thats a massive part and system of the game.

              You make it sound that BS has no story, is shallow, the gameplay is just mindless killing and actually less than UT3. Its not.

              No point to go on, either you did not play the game or you totally missed everything and are playing it like a mindless killer(which you can't) for like 5 minutes and rage quit.

              I just don't get it...

              • reply
                February 28, 2011 10:22 PM

                I've beat the game. I stand by my assessment. The dick jokes don't stop, either.
                The end of the game is a lot better then the beginning. It's alright.

                It not ground breaking like you're shouting about though.

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 12:36 PM

      Wow, this game wasn't on my radar at all, it kind of looks amazing.

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      February 28, 2011 12:41 PM

      Really nice graphics. I want to get this now. Nice review

      • reply
        February 28, 2011 12:46 PM

        The game does look great. It's also a ton of ridiculous fun.

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 12:48 PM

      The 360 demo is a terrible representation of the full game. It had me convinced to pass on it, but was swayed after really positive reviews and giant bombs quick look.

      I loved every second of it. Really awesome stupid fun game.

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        February 28, 2011 12:54 PM

        The demo was one level of the game's "Echoes" mode... which, yes, does not do the game justice.

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          February 28, 2011 1:10 PM

          The demo really put me off the game. I might pick it up one day, but with Killzone 3 out and Dragon Age 2 looming, I don't think I'll have time.

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      February 28, 2011 12:48 PM

      I haven't had so much fun playing an FPS in a LONG time.

      The pace of the game reminds me of Gears, high and low points in the right places with plenty of variation in gameplay.

      I haven't even finished it yet but I already know I'll be playing the SP multiple times.

      Anarchy Mode is SOOO fun when you have ppl with mics. Even without mics, with the right ppl everyone is on the same page of knowing you have to work together.

      See someone wrapped up? You know someone flailed them and is waiting for you to kick or shoot them into something. See some guys thumped in the air? You know they're waiting for you to trap shoot them.

      Too.Much.Fun

      • reply
        February 28, 2011 12:50 PM

        I've been getting really frustrated playing this game online so far (PC). not many people are using mics, and there isnt any apparent text chat. I cant even count how many waves are blown because people dont communicate to do the team skill shots :/

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          February 28, 2011 12:59 PM

          Yea I experienced that at first; I'm on 360

          I found some ppl with mics to play with.

          There are those ppl who just know what to do and don't use mics (got through all 20 waves on Deadrock and no one else had a mic), then of course there are those who just do a bunch of shit.

          Try to find ppl who have mics or even just understand how Anarchy works

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 12:58 PM

      How are the controls?

      Can you rebind keys? Is there a console? Can you rebind multiple keys to a single action?

      • reply
        February 28, 2011 12:59 PM

        great, yes, no, yes

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        February 28, 2011 5:13 PM

        You can remap all the keys yeah, its not that restricted! ha

        Its clearly a port but its a good one. Looks georgious maxed out on PC

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 1:03 PM

      This game is sick. EOT.

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 1:05 PM

      It'll be hard to enjoy Duke Nukem Forever after playing this. Gearbox may nail Duke's persona, but combat will be nothing like this gem.

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      February 28, 2011 1:06 PM

      what is the framerate locked to? 30fps?

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        February 28, 2011 1:10 PM

        62 fps, so not really a problem and easy to cancel with the ini-editor.

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          February 28, 2011 2:39 PM

          Not really a problem for today. But 120 fps LCD's already exist and will become increasingly more common as time goes on.

          How forget people are of the fact that what is not necessary today may be well necessary in the future. Or perhaps we don't need mice now because we haven't ALWAYS needed them? ;)

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 1:17 PM

      I've learned something from this game. I played through it on PC and I now know why PC games are seen as whiny. The game works great on PC. The problems are only a problem if you make them a problem.

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      February 28, 2011 2:09 PM

      I hear that mouse acceleration is on, and you need a special program to view/edit the ini files?

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        February 28, 2011 2:18 PM

        The .ini files are encrypted, yes.

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          February 28, 2011 2:55 PM

          Easly decriptable ? , WTF would they encript INI Files , that's BS.

        • reply
          February 28, 2011 5:33 PM

          that is some silliness

        • reply
          February 28, 2011 7:54 PM

          Locked FOV, encrypted ini files. Yay for PC gaming.

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 2:24 PM

      I'll admit, I had absolutely no interest in this game until today and thought it looked stupid as fuck. but that video posted in the other thread and this review have me seriously considering it. I could use a fun mindless shooter to play.

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 2:25 PM

      Hey any PC users want to post their GFWL ids? I've gotten a few people to play online so far.

      id: dosethemost

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      February 28, 2011 2:29 PM

      Loved how much of a port the game was. "Press V to accept changes". Seriously? The V key to accept changes? Not Enter, Space, Esc.,...no the V key. To use your site you have to hold down the right mouse button, there is no toggle. The gameplay overall wasn't to bad really.

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      February 28, 2011 3:00 PM

      i completely agree with your review of the game. one thing though, the single player campaign is definitely not 10 hours. i took my time playing the game, routinely checked the skillshot database and tried to get every skillshot (ended up with a little over 100) and the campaign only took around 6 hours.

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        February 28, 2011 3:05 PM

        According to Steam's tracker, after I finished the game, my time came in at a little under 10 hours.

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          February 28, 2011 3:06 PM

          As with any game, time will vary.

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          February 28, 2011 3:17 PM

          does that include the time spent playing echoes mode? either way, you're right, time will vary

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            February 28, 2011 3:39 PM

            Mine was 9 hours w/o any Echoes or MP. Did you play it on Easy?

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              February 28, 2011 3:58 PM

              I played it on Normal, spread out over 4 or 5 days

          • reply
            February 28, 2011 5:11 PM

            No, it doesn't. Single-player only.

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          March 1, 2011 1:56 AM

          Well i guess ur a noob then! Noob!

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        February 28, 2011 3:11 PM

        it took me about 7 hours on normal. I plan on playing it again though

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 3:26 PM

      If you like the writing in this, I'm sure Rick Remender would appreciate your picking up a few dozen issues of his comic, Fear Agent.
      (I haven't played the game or demo - have read the comic.)

    • reply
      February 28, 2011 5:42 PM

      Just bought it tonight. Hopefully, I shall enjoy it.

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      February 28, 2011 7:11 PM

      Bulletstorm is a real throwback to the time when FPS games where played for fun, and not for "reality". Bulletstorm is a real "game" not a "simulator". I miss playing games. That is why I am having so much fun with this one.

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        February 28, 2011 7:21 PM

        I agree. I miss secret areas and crazy powerups.

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          March 1, 2011 2:08 AM

          There's NEVER an ammo crate under the stairs anymore. WTF, that shit was practically law!

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          March 1, 2011 2:17 AM

          See that lil' health pellet all by its lonesome in the middle of that large open field? Touch it... You know you want it...

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        February 28, 2011 7:35 PM

        Where are these simulator games? I want to play these games.

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          February 28, 2011 11:33 PM

          arma2 = almost sim

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            February 28, 2011 11:54 PM

            That's the only simulator out there. Operation Flashpoint 2 failed big time.

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        March 1, 2011 12:01 AM

        Yeah, I'm enjoying it for exactly this reason.

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      February 28, 2011 7:39 PM

      I'm so happy for People Can Fly! they're overdue for having a big-name game with the marketing and backing to sell a lot of copies. Painkiller developed a following, but it must've been hard for a Polish studio to really get attention beyond the hardcore.

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      February 28, 2011 11:40 PM

      hmmmmmmm now in intrigued

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      February 28, 2011 11:59 PM

      what's the easiest way to get points? like whats a decent paying skillshot that's easy to do alot

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        March 1, 2011 12:02 AM

        they all degrade with reuse, so you are encouraged to try different stuff and mix them together.

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      March 1, 2011 12:48 AM

      Okay took a while to get everything setup but went in expecting/knowing nothing and the first level already impressed me - its like a 90s kickass FPS!

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      March 1, 2011 12:53 AM

      It's a shame that Duke has to follow up to this. The over the top setpieces, the way the environments get destroyed, the over the top action, the crass humor, this is all stuff that Duke Nukem Forever needs to live up to now.

      Honestly, change Bulletstorm's story a little, place it in Vegas and the surrounding desert instead of an alien world (also with a desert and gaudy "vacation" city), replace the hero with Duke, and everyone here would be calling it GOTY. The framework and pretty much everything else for a great Duke game is right here.

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        March 1, 2011 3:47 PM

        I'm enjoying Bulletstorm, but I think Duke Nukem Forever will still be better. Because there is one major aspect that everyone is missing here: Interactivity.

        In DNF you can interact with a lot more objects and get humourous results. Bulletstorm has fun ways to despatch opponents, but the environments themselves are pretty linear and there is no sense of interactivity besides, "Kick this" or "Press X to pull switch".

        When you can take a piss in a toilet, see a floater then pick up the turd, for no apparent reason... then you have some interactive humour!

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          March 2, 2011 1:22 AM

          Yeah the more i play the more "on the rails" it seems. Invisible walls and linear levels etc but the writing is so over the top you still keep playing

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      March 1, 2011 1:18 AM

      "This game aint gonna preorder itself. Whooa! Hahaha!"

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      March 2, 2011 9:17 AM

      Yes, the reason PC gaming is in decline is because of pirating.

      Not terrible ports of games, that constantly lag spikes no matter how you tweak the settings. I thought the devs were making fun of the whole regain health system... it is a main component in this game. Little skill is involved.

      I ran out of ammo, quit the game and doubt I will ever start it up again. Contemplating uninstalling it. Happy I didn't buy it.

      They can try to ride on Duke's sagging nuts but it just isn't happening. I'm buying Duke day one, no question in my mind that the game will function and be fun.

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      March 3, 2011 6:59 PM

      Bulletstorm is the prefect Game ,finally some action in a game ,i loved every second of it ,i can only recommend it .I give it 10 / 10
      i do not recomend this for tripple screen players ,i had to turn that of to only play it at 1920x1200 .Awesome game Awesome action ,when are they starting to make Part 2 ? LoL.