Bulletstorm is a critically acclaimed first-person shooter that never got the mainstream success it deserved.

Now the developer Gearbox remastered it as Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition for Xbox One and PC, making a great game even better. Will those enhancements (and the addition of Duke Nukem) be enough to win over gamers?

Dark future

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

Bulletstorm takes place in the far future, with mankind traveling between planets and solar systems via massive starships. Protagonist Grayson Hunt (who goes by Gray) is the leader of Dead Echo, a small black-ops squad that's been performing covert assassinations for Star General Serrano.

During one of these missions, they discover that Serrano has tricked them into murdering numerous civilians rather than military targets and criminals. Flashing forward several years, Gray and his team encounter Serrano's flagship in the far reaches of space. Gray drunkenly insists on attacking the enormous ship, a decision which will cost his crew greatly.

Soon, Gray and one of his teammates awaken on a hostile desert planet somewhat reminiscent of Borderlands' Pandora. This partner has been forcibly turned into a cyborg, RoboCop-style, after losing nearly half his body in an explosion. The operation leaves him in a constant state of pain and forces him to battle an aggressive AI for control of his mind. Still, our cyborg sidekick must work with his former commander if he's ever to find peace.

As you can tell, the narrative here is darker than your average shooter. Gray is an extremely flawed protagonist (somewhat artificially voiced by Steve Blum), one with much to atone for by the end of the game.

Expletive deleted

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

As serious as Bulletstorm's story can be, it's even more laden with profanity. Virtually every character drops multiple expletives during every conversation, as does Gray during gameplay. Even in multiplayer, players will endure an announcer who refers to them as "blowjobs" and other gratuitous euphemisms during the action.

The florid language can be funny in its daringness, not unlike the effect South Park had during its early days. Still, the copious crassness wears thin at times, especially if you (like me) generally try to keep your language clean. Thankfully, profanity can be disabled in the options, so you can always tone it down once it wears out its welcome.

Run, gun, and grab

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

Bulletstorm is a first-person shooter that shares stylistic similarities to Gears of War, which makes sense since Epic Games codeveloped the original game along with Polish studio People Can Fly (which ported the original Gears of War to PC back in 2007). Still, the gameplay deviates from Microsoft's Gears series in several ways.

The big gameplay innovation here is the energy leash, a grappling weapon Gray acquires during the prologue. You can use the leash to grab and move environmental obstacles, but that's only part of the fun. The rest comes from pulling enemies to any number of deaths, sticking them to spikes and cacti, throwing them off of ledges, into fire or electricity, and much more.

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

Gray can kick or slide-kick enemies into things, as well. All of these mechanics cause time to briefly slow down, which is all the better to chain kicks and grabs as you set up devastating kills. Most such kills qualify as Skillshots, Bulletstorm's other unique gameplay wrinkle.

Skillshots reward players for creative kills. Killing enemies in mid-air, using a weapon's unique Charge abilities, environmental kills, headshots and more, all qualify as Skillshots and award points to spend on weapon upgrades. You can pause and check the Skillshot list to see which ones you haven't done yet; these award the most points. Skillshots help keep the moment-to-moment gameplay fresh, since you're always encouraged to try new things.

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One Skillshots

Less impressively, Bulletstorm has no proper cover system. You can duck to avoid fire by clicking in the analog stick, but that's a far cry from the sublime sticky cover mechanics of Gears. The lack of sticky cover (or even a way to jump or roll) makes Bulletstorm's gameplay feel a tad dated, but the energy leash and Skillshot systems mostly make up for it.

Multiplayer

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

The single biggest mistake during Bulletstorm's development is that the campaign has no co-op multiplayer support. Given the general similarities to Gears of War, shared staff between both games, and the story pairing Gray with a partner, it would have made so much sense to allow two players to team up to take the game on. No such luck here, unfortunately.

Still, Bulletstorm does have an online cooperative mode called Anarchy (split-screen is not supported). Up to four players can team up in 12 different Anarchy maps with the goal of surviving 20 waves of enemies. Between waves, you can spend points earned on upgrades, a welcome addition to the standard Horde-mode formula.

Just wiping out the enemies isn't enough to win in Anarchy mode. You've got to do it with style. Each wave has a score target that can only be reached by performing Skillshots and the occasional co-op Skillshots. Fail to reach the target, and the team must replay the wave. These targets are mostly doable – my team only failed a few times on the way to Wave 20.

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One Multiplayer

Anarchy mode can be fun, but it feels archaic compared to more robust Horde modes in games like Gears of War 4 and Sniper Elite 4. Bulletstorm never got to improve Anarchy mode in sequels, so that makes sense. But the small arenas and a general lack of variety during individual co-op games limit Anarchy's long-term potential.

As if that wasn't enough, matchmaking leaves a lot to be desired. You can't just create a public lobby and sit in it until someone joins (like you could with most games). Instead, one must search for Quick Match and hope that others are searching at the same time. After a few minutes, the search times out and you have to search again. I spent numerous attempts searching in vain before finally getting matched up with another player. I suspect many gamers will fail their first search and never try again.

Duke Nukem's Bulletstorm Tour

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One Duke Nukem

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition includes little new content, other than a few forgettable single-player Echo (challenge) maps. Mostly, you just get the original game with much improved graphics and all of its downloadable content in one package.

Still, Gearbox and team produced one new paid DLC (which was free for preorders) called Duke Nukem's Bulletstorm Tour. As the name implies, this DLC brings the once-popular first person shooter (FPS) hero Duke Nukem into the world of Bulletstorm.

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One Duke Nukem Prologue

The Duke DLC doesn't add a new game mode or levels like you might expect. Instead, it simply lets you play as Duke Nukem instead of Grayson Hunt in the main campaign. Duke speaks newly recorded lines and shows up in cinematics, but everything else stays the same. The other characters even refer to him as Gray, which is bizarre. Duke frequently corrects them and says plenty of other goofy things, adding some nice humor to the normally serious narrative.

The Duke Nukem's Bulletstorm Tour DLC sells for $5. That's just the right price for what it offers – a silly new way to experience the game. If you don't care about Duke, you can easily skip the DLC without losing out on anything important.

Achievements

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

The Xbox One version of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition has 60 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. These include all of the Achievements from the original Xbox 360 game and its two DLCs, which are included by default here. The Duke Nukem DLC does not have its own Achievements.

Goals include beating the game on the highest difficulty, finding two different types of collectibles, reaching level 30 in Anarchy multiplayer (I got to level 18 in one complete game), and numerous Achievements tied to specific levels and Skillshots. Levels can be replayed at will, so nothing is missable. But with 60 Achievements and so many Skillshots to go after, it will take a fair number of hours to get them all.

Overall Impression

Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition Xbox One

Bulletstorm was a great game for its time, but mismanagement by original publisher EA kept it from finding an audience. Maybe the world wasn't ready for an ultra potty-mouthed shooter set in a dark science fiction future. Things looked a lot brighter back then, and we were all so innocent.

If any game from a previous generation deserved a second chance, it's Bulletstorm. And that's just what Gearbox has given it with the Full Clip Edition. They fully remastered the visuals in Unreal Engine 4, bringing high-resolution textures and models to Xbox One with a (generally) 60 FPS frame rate. You get all of the original DLC, too, and that's pretty much it. Oh, and the Xbox One version currently costs $59.99.

Pros:

  • Looks as good as any current-gen game thanks to fully remastered graphics.
  • A thrilling campaign with lots of variety and spectacular set pieces.
  • The energy leash weapon and Skillshots keep the moment-to-moment gameplay fresh.

Cons:

  • No campaign co-op in a game that cries out for it.
  • Anarchy multiplayer is limited and suffers from poor matchmaking.
  • Would benefit from a proper cover system.

Great

4/5

It's a shame the developers didn't fix up Anarchy mode or add something brand new for players who've already experienced the game. But since so many gamers (including me) missed out on Bulletstorm the first time around, the Full Clip Edition still makes for a fairly compelling package. Let's hope this version sells well enough to justify a sequel. A Bulletstorm 2 with modern gameplay refinements and improved multiplayer would be truly epic.

Xbox One review code provided by the publisher.