It feels like it’s been a long wait to secure a genuinely great FPS experience on Nintendo Switch. Whilst one could argue that whilst Doom 2016 certainly is the King of that particular genre, its lack of competition from the likes of the rather uninspiring Wolfenstein ports perhap made it look all the better. Then out of nowhere you get a glorious reminder that Bulletstorm exists, and this excellent port is just the competition it needed.
Bulletstorm is a game that’s been around for a long time now. Originally released in early 2011 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, People Can Fly’s off-the-wall shooter gained a rather cult audience thanks to its superbly archaic mechanics and ridiculous sense of humour. It was certainly a surprise in the Finger Guns HQ when it was announced to be remastered for today’s systems and yet to this day there’s still nothing quite like it, even if Rage 2 tried and failed to take its crown. Bulletstorm holds a special place in my heart, alongside the shockingly underrated Neverdead as games that went to the effort of actually taking some risks. It’s not surprising, given how stale the FPS genre became in the previous generation.
So People Can Fly turned the genre on its head and decreed the best way to have fun again in FPS games is to offer up as many different ways you can kill a motherfucker as you can possibly imagine. One hundred and thirty-one ways, in fact and you’ll get more points the more original you can make your murdering. From throwing/kicking them into spiked walls and cactuses to slicing them in half, leashing them straight to you so you can blast a hundred bullets into their skulls and watch it explode and kicking them off bridges and cliffs and watching them fall to the ground into a million pieces. You can even combo a variety of these options for maximum pointage.
The game simply wants you to mess with the formula and utterly decimate every single enemy in the most original ways possible. There’s very little fun to be had by simply just pointing and shooting, Bulletstorm isn’t about that life. It’s about using the environment to your advantage, leashing your enemy and then drop kicking a son of a bitch into an electrical fence. Eight years later, Bulletstorm just doesn’t get old. It’s so dumb. It’s so satisfying.
And thank goodness, because this Switch port is nothing short of a miracle worker. On offer is the 2017 Remastered version which features the visual overhaul along with the Duke Nukem campaign mode (you may have guessed from the title) which drops everyone’s favourite American ass-kicker into the mad world of Bulletstorm with a fully re-written script to include his rather cringe-inducing but ultimately nostalgia-baiting dialogue. You can play through the entire campaign as Duke and it’s a glorious addition which makes the barbaric world mechanics all the more absurd.
When docked the game runs at a solid 1080p and looks fantastic. Fair to say one of the best looking games on the Switch so far for my eyes. Of course in handheld the game drops to 720p but doesn’t really lose anything thanks to the screen dimensions. It’s a spectacular job well done, and runs as smooth as Duke’s one-liners.
Are you new to Bulletstorm? Well, allow me to introduce you to its ridiculous world.
You play as Grayson Hunt, the leader of Dead Echo, a collective ragtag of ragamuffins stranded on the planet Stygia. It’s fair to say the locals aren’t particularly pleased to see them and go about destroying your face and body parts as quick as possible across seven inventive and hugely entertaining levels.
The next thing you need to know about Bulletstorm is, well, it’s dumb as hell. It’s corny and childish, it’s The Grand Tour if Clarkson was handed a machine gun. There’s dick-jokes aplenty and throughout there’s more than enough eye-rolling jokes that you can’t help but enjoy because everything else around the dialogue is so damn entertaining. It’s main draw, the aforementioned ‘kill everyone in the coolest way you can’ mechanic is the Skillshot system, and as the game progresses you’ll be unlocking vast amounts of ways to dead your enemies through new ridiculous weaponry (from ‘Bonedusters’, ‘Flailguns’, ‘Screamers’ and so many more) and level design ready made for the most fun you can possibly create whilst being shot at by the wretched locals. Wanna drop kick a dude into a giant fan? Check. What about shooting up a dudes chest as he moves further and further into a bottomless pit? Giant walls covered in spikes? It’s all here, the wildly inventive level design keeps you coming back and it never stops being completely hilarious and immensely satisfying when you discover a new Skillshot and your XP just keeps totalling up over and over.
It’s a shame then that the much-lauded multiplayer mode isn’t included in the Switch edition. It makes sense, when you think about it, but there’s very little that compares to the madcap world of Bulletstorm in multiplayer, and decimating your mates into tiny little pieces as they fall helplessly into a giant fan whilst getting a ton of bullets to the face is about as delightful as video games have ever been and whilst it’s never been the most popular multiplayer mode (though we can’t think why), the Duke of Switch edition is purely single player and it’s unfortunate. What’s on offer is genuinely superb, so it’s hardly a complaint. The meal is fantastic, it just would have been a complete package with the side dish.
Still, Bulletstorm lives and dies on its campaign and the Switch version has absolutely smashed it out of the park. It’s a crying shame the planned sequel was cancelled due to the poor sales of the original release possibly in relation to launching so close to Gears of War which was considerably more successful. The madness of this game warrants a second outing, the tremendous Skillshot system still unrivalled to this day.
Bullestorm is ludicrously brilliant and now you can take it wherever you go.
Hail to the King, baby.
Bullestorm; Duke of Switch Edition is out now on Nintendo Switch
Developer: People Can Fly
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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