Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: People Can Fly

Published By: Gearbox Publishing

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to Gearbox Publishing for providing a review code

Bulletstorm was released way back during the days of the Xbox 360 and PS3. It was dubbed as an “in your face”, weird and wild FPS that could provide some real frantic entertainment. That was back then, but now Bulletstorm has been brought back to all three next gen consoles. Its final destination is the Nintendo Switch with the Duke of Switch Edition. Is Bulletstorm worth picking up on everyone’s favorite hybrid console? Let’s find out

Story

The story takes place in the 26th century and sees you playing as Grayson the head of an assassination team called Dead Echo. Dead Echo works for the Confederation of Planets which is the group that rules the universe. One day while carrying out an assassination the team learns that their target was a reporter that was covering the deaths of civilians by the Confederation of Planets. It’s only then when you realize, that you’ve been lied to by your general the entire time. Your team flees the scene and abandons their jobs essentially becoming space pirates (criminals of the confederation)

10 years later Grayson comes across General Sarrano’s ship and attacks it, in an attempt to exact his revenge. The plan goes haywire however, after your ship is almost destroyed and your crew member Ishi is critically injured. Ishi is healed back together by using robotic parts to turn him into a half human half Terminator hybrid. The rest of your crew is killed in the attack and it’s only you and Ishi left on an unfamiliar planet. Will you make it home? Or will the confederation take you down?

Much like you’d expect out of a game that’s deemed as an “in your face” FPS Bulletstorm’s narrative is over the top. It’s crude and unusual and at times can be quite funny. However, I don’t find the game as comedic as it feels it was intended to be. Besides the comedic moments, the story feels too over the top and the characters feel like they don’t have enough personality. For fans of bizarre stories, you’ll still get your fix here, but don’t expect any sort of deeper narrative.

Gameplay

Bulletstorm is a 3D FPS with sci-fi elements. The entire game takes place over seven chapters with multiple acts connected to each one. Each act will have you doing anything from shooting down mutants, to blowing up enemies, and even kicking a few people off tall places.

You’ll begin the game with nothing, but an assault rifle and one helluva kick. Kicking in Bulletstorm causes an enemy to enter a state of slowed down time so that you can take them out in a fury of bullets (or kick them off the map). It’s a lot of fun and I expect nothing less from a wacky game like this.

As you progress more and more weapons will become available. Finding new weapons from enemies will unlock the ability to purchase said weapon. Will talk a bit more about this later.

While I won’t go in depth explaining how Bulletstorm plays since you’re most likely familiar with the FPS genre, I’ll talk about a few things that makes Bulletstorm unique. The first mechanic is your laser whip which I can only say, you probably haven’t seen in another FPS game. Towards the beginning of the game you’ll gain access to an attachment called the laser whip. As the name implies, this is a whip that can be sent out to clear debris or move objects to create a path. However, what’s exciting about the whip is its abilities in combat.

During combat you can use the whip to grab a hold of far away enemies and bring them closer. When the whip connects with an enemy, they’re sent flailing through the air towards you in a slowed down state. Yes, the whip actually slows down time and allows you a few moments to unleash havoc on your enemy. It’s honestly one of the most genuinely interesting mechanics I’ve ever seen in an FPS.

Besides your laser whip, Bullestorm also offers its own unique rewards system known as the Skillshots system. This system allows you to earn points, which is the game’s currency based on how you kill opponents. Every type of weapon has its own Skillshots to try and unlock as do performing certain actions with environments. For example, throwing an enemy off a cliff and killing them is called “Vertigo” and shooting an enemy in the balls with a sniper rifle is called the “Nutcracker”. There are over 100 different skill shots to unlock and it adds a ton of replayability to the game. The campaign lasts about 5-8 hours, but you most likely will want to come back to try and find more skill shots.

All points that you accumulate from performing Skillshots can be used at “Dropspots” found around the map. Here you can unlock weapons and buy ammunition for each one. Each weapon also has two available upgrades. You can purchase upgrades to increase a weapons maximum capacity or to unlock/increase the maximum capacity of a weapon’s “charge”. A charge is a weapons special ammunition that when purchased unleashes a powerful shot. The assault rifles charge acts as a blast from an entire clip at once, while the sniper rifle’s is a bullet that’s explosive. Charge’s are important to learn to use for encounters against tougher foes.

There’s also an upgrade available for your whip called a “Thumper”. The Thumper is the whip’s version of a charge and upon charging the whip it will stun everyone in a huge radius.

Bulletstorm does change up its gameplay every now and then by adding some unique combat segments. For example, sometimes you will have to control the machine gun on a truck or a helicopter to finish a certain portion of one of the acts. I also had the pleasure of controlling a huge Mecha-Godzilla and unleashing havoc upon a group of unsuspecting enemies. These more unconventional combat events add even more to Bulletstorm’s identity and help it stand out amongst other FPS titles.

With all that being said Bullestorm plays like any FPS would. Enemies range from being fast with low health to being slow bullet sponges. There’s tons of different enemies and the game’s bosses and mini-bosses are interesting as well. Mini-bosses are frequent and after a while become less menacing than they once were. The few bosses that the game has on the other hand are absolutely insane. They’re not overly difficult, but boy are they weird.

Besides the story being too over the top at times, I really enjoyed what Bullestorm has to offer. It’s too bad that it didn’t perform well during its original release, but I’m glad it was able to be brought back to next generation consoles. The combat mechanics are fun and enthralling, there’s a nice variety of weapons at your disposal and everything manages to mix together very well.

Extras

Included in Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition is the ability to play as none other than the Duke himself. Yes, you’re given the option to play the campaign as Duke Nukem himself. Those who have missed the Duke Nukem franchise will find comfort in being able to play this outrageous game as the king of outrage himself. The campaign mode to play as Duke Nukem doesn’t change the campaign itself, but instead adds him in as Grayson. This makes for some hilarious cutscenes at the Duke Nukem is fully voiced and has different dialogue then what Grayson would have had. Expect some third wall breaking in this campaign.

There are also a few collectables you can try and hunt down as you’re mutilating mutants. Small robots called Newsbots and swarms of flies can be killed to gain extra XP. These act as little sidequests to add to your list of things to do.

Usually in the extras I would talk about the ability to use gyro controls, but unfortunately they weren’t included. The online co-op mode that Bulletstorm used to have is also not available with the Duke of Switch Edition. It’s unfortunate as these are two additions that would have really made the package feel complete, if they had been included.

Presentation

Bulletstorm’s visual design is a mix of futuristic and post apocalyptic visual designs. Many of the buildings and environments look like they come from the future, but the destruction that’s found in each area brings out a very post apocalyptic feel to it.

The enemies are very well designed and resemble what I would consider the exact definition of mutants. There are some great designs with the environments and they blend perfectly with the gameplay design. If you’re not a fan of the presentation at first give it some time, because I think you’ll most likely come around.

Technical Issues

I’m happy to let you know that Bulletstorm’s transition to Nintendo Switch is one of the smoothest we’ve seen yet. The resolution holds up well in both handheld and docked mode. The game looks and feels great with absolutely no issues with the frame rate during combat. I experienced a few minor issues with the frame rate during cutscenes, but that was it. This is an overall very well-done conversion.

Summary

I didn’t expect to enjoy Bulletstorm as much as I did, but it’s truly a charming FPS even if it’s crude and boorish. The gameplay provides an immense amount of enjoyment with different mechanics scattered about to constantly bring something interesting to the table. The Skillshot system is one of the greatest additions to an FPS I’ve ever seen and made me want to try and experiment with ways to kill enemies. For some the story may be a bit too over the top and lack enough personality to interest you. The lack of gyro controls and online multiplayer may also put off some players from trying Bulletstorm. However, I have to say that if you’ve been craving a new FPS to take on the go, this one is definitely worth checking out.

8/10

Pros

  • Crazy & Wild Gameplay
  • Skillshot System & Laser Whip Are Both Excellent Unique Mechanics
  • Interesting Combat Segments
  • One of the Best Ports to Date
  • Nice Futuristic, Post Apocalyptic Visual Design
  • Duke Nukem’s Included

Cons

  • The Story May be Too Over The Top For Some
  • Lack of Gyro Controls & Online Multiplayer
  • Minor Frame Rate Issues During Cutscenes

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