Bulletstorm is a colorful game. Most of those hues come from gushes of blood and blue bursts of profanity, both of which serve the futuristic first-person shooter well. Players kick, whip, and blast through an army of gang-bangers, mutants, and super-soldiers. Bulletstorm’s lore never explicitly states that human civilization will eventually coalesce around the philosophies of Full Metal Jacket’s R. Lee Ermey. But there’s no better explanation for a culture that communicates almost exclusively in newly-coined compound curses.
Bulletstorm’s primary pottymouth is Grayson Hunt, a government assassin on a rogue revenge kick. His mission to kill the general who tricked him into snuffing civilians leads him to Stygia—a vacation planet turned deathtrap by those gangs and mutants, plus local wildlife. General Sarranno, the game’s Alpha Ermey, was using Stygia as a secret training ground, hence the game’s system for celebrating creative sadism: Fox News made a stink around the fact that Bulletstorm rewards players in neon for shooting an enemy in the balls. But the allure of high scores and gruesome kills aren’t the game’s greatest innovation. The game’s smartest move is a clever sidestep around the game-breaking problems of bullet time.
Slow-motion can be fun and empowering in a single-player campaign, but just doesn’t work when there’s more than one shooter. Bulletstorm’s solution involves enveloping an enemy in a tight field of slow time. The stinging touch of Hunt’s energy whip and the sole of his boot can send enemies reeling in a lazy tumble. That’s when you have your way with the target—propelling them into spikes, drilling them into walls, or filling their privates with lead. Best of all, these mechanics translate nicely to Anarchy, an online multiplayer mode where squads of four tag-team waves of hapless enemies.
Online play, with its reliance on synchronized kills, seems particularly sensitive to lag. But the moment-to-moment rewards of Bulletstorm’s communal murder are great. Few gaming experiences are more satisfying than using an energy whip to slam-dunk a bullet-riddled patsy whom a teammate has alley-ooped into the air. That’s more than enough motivation to make sure your maggot friends have FiOS.