Bulletstorm is a multiplatform First-Person Shooter from People Can Fly, the creators of the Cult Classic shooter Painkiller, and Epic Games, also developers of the Gears of War and Unreal series, using Epic's own Unreal Engine 3.The game's story, written by Rick Remender, comes straight from a pulp sci-fi serial, starring two former black ops soldiers/assassins, Grayson Hunt and Ishi Sato, members of wetworks unit Dead Echo. After they discover that their superior, General Sarrano, has had them killing innocent people through their entire carreer, Grayson and his team go rogue, Gray swearing revenge for the atrocities Sarrano used Dead Echo to commit. We join Grayson some time later when he and his crew, now Space Pirates on the run from the law, encounter Sarrano's flagship in orbit around the former tropical paradise resort planet Stygia, and Gray's subsequent (alcohol-inspired) kamikaze-attack results in both ships crashing on a planet teeming with mutated psychopathic ferals and all kinds of flora and fauna thirsting for blood. Having been injured in the crash, Ishi's new robotic implants are gnawing away at his mind, and it's up to Grayson to find the fastest way off of Stygia to get Ishi some real medical attention. Unfortunately, the only way to do so is to find Sarrano and hitch a ride on his evac cruiser.A major feature of gameplay is the 'Skillshots' system, which rewards the player with points for finding gruesome and creative ways to kill enemies. These points can then be spent upgrading your weapons and buying ammunition, fuelling even more extreme ways to dismember or disintegrate the freaks that attack you at every turn. There's an online co-op score-attack mode.
Abnormal Ammo: One gun fires rockets with drills on the end. Another fires timed or remote mines attached to a chain. That doesn't even touch on how the sniper rifle can fire directable rounds (or how enemies can react so well to them).
The "Thumper" upgrade for the leash. Capable of launching hordes of enemies into the air and suspending them for several seconds. Handy for setting up large skillshot combos or simply gaining some breathing room during a particularly difficult firefight. Effective even in indoor scenarios where thumping enemies can result in kills from impacting ("Flyswatter") or being impaled on ("Voodoo Doll") the environment.
The Flail Gun is helpful not only for the amount of Skillshots it permits, but also as multi-functional tactical utility.
"There is no reason to panic. Ignore the rumors. There is no gamma radiation. You are perfectly safe!"
Bloody Hilarious: The game and Sarrano actively encourage this. Bigger and better skillshots and more Comedic Sociopathy mean better weaponry and more ammo, which means you live longer to get more... while playing it like a traditional shooter will net you less and less.
Book Ends: The prologue flashback features Grayson diving in front of Ishi to take a bullet for him. During the final battle, Ishi dives in front of Grayson in the exact same manner to take a bullet for him. With Trishka hiding nearby... Remember the little girl in Novak's office during the prologue?
Boom, Headshot: Your Head A Splode. The normal variety gives you a measly 25 points, but doing a Groin Attack then shooting/kicking them in the head causes this, but gives you "Mercy" for 100 points. Also, getting a headshot with certain weapons, like the Flail Gun, gets you more points.
Booze-Based Buff: You get an "Intoxicated" skillshot out of your kills while drunk. There's a second version, called ''Toxic Love", which happens whenever you're exposed to green rage-inducing gas (either from plants, or headshotting green-skinned enemies). The gas creates a different intoxication which makes the player dizzy, but also highlights enemies. And you get points for killing people in this mode.
Boring, but Practical: The Peacmaker Carbine. It may not have the flashy functions and skillshots of other weapons, but it still has pretty good damage and accuracy. Also, ammo for it is plentiful, since it's used by most enemies.
Boss Room: Subverted for laughs in the second Muta-Burnout encounter. The room is a large circular arrangement dominated by a huge vat of acid, indicated to be a classic boss arena... he promptly stumbles while walking in and accidentally tosses himself into a vat of acid.
Bottomless Pit: The demo alone features this, since you're inside a collapsed skyscraper dangling over the side of a cliff about a mile down. And yes, kicking enemies into it is yet another skillshot: "Vertigo."
Bullet Time: Kicking or yanking enemies into the air with your tether slows them so you can line up the perfect shot.
The game's Sniper Rifle also plays with the trope by drastically slowing down for the last few feet of every bullet's path, allowing the player to control its trajectory, while still being an Instant Death Bullet. It looks like this trope, but any allies visible at this point will move at more or less normal speed, and the enemies try to dodge out of the way.
Chekhov's Gun / Chekhov's Boomerang: Remember when you drop the train on the Hekaton shortly after Last Train From Explosion Town? That is why it has the sore later on!
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Ishi has the issue of a murderous, psychopathic AI screwing with his head. Trishka is, understandably, not thrilled to be working with a drunken space pirate and said murderous AI who killed the soldiers she was comrades with, and was told were extrreme war criminals.
Cluster F-Bomb: Or rather various bombing with various letters; let's just say everyone in this game does it.
Coop Multiplayer: "Anarchy" Mode, where up to four players control members of the Final Echo team and battle waves of enemies. Much like the Single Player, the only way to succeed is to get creative with your kills. But doing this alone isn't even enough! You must work with your teammates to get cooperative skillshots, which are worth huge amounts of skill points. If the team gets enough points, they'll progress to the next wave.
Crapsack World: The wider Bulletstorm universe is a beautiful place full of super-science and colorful people, yet dominated by a corrupt fascist kleptocracy and presided upon by nebulous amoral corporations. The focal point of the game, Stygia, used to be a luxurious resort planet. Now it's an irradiated dump.
Cruel and Unusual Death and The Joys Of Torturing Mooks in game form. Bulletstorm is entirely about this, forcing you to be creative with your kills each time you see an enemy. Points are required for buying fresh ammo and recharging weapons, and simply shooting enemies to death the standard way will not get you back the cost. Flinging them into the sky, shooting them with a flare to trigger a "Fireworks" skillshot, however, earns you significantly more. This is also encouraged in multiplayer, where you only progress if your entire team works together to finish off enemies as creatively as possible. The in-story explanation: Anarchy Mode. The competent ones with Leashes get resupplied. The bad ones don't.
Cruelty Is the Only Option: Just painlessly headshotting a guy nets you 25 points. Leash the guy, kick him, then shoot him up his ass, and you get considerably more. If you manage an especially impressive skillshot combo in the middle of a gun fight, everyone stops shooting, looks over, and goes "Daaaaaaaaaaaamn..." That's right, you can cause atemporary ceasefirejust by being unbelievably cruel to an enemy.
At the opposite end of the cruelty spectrum, there is a Trophy/Achievement available for completing an Echo round in the manner of a typical First-Person Shooter, without any unnecessary violence. It's surprisingly difficult.
Deconstruction/Metagame/Take That: It's possible to read this game as a struggle between modern military shooters and older shooters where realism wasn't a factor.
The main villains (Representing the military shooter) are completely serious, faceless military men who are in a sterile monochromatic environment, all use the same gun, and their leader is an over-exaggerated Psychopathic Manchild stereotype of immature 12-year-old Call of Duty players.
You, on the other hand, play as a character who is clearly enjoying himself creating the most Cruel and Unusual Death possible, in a colorful, zany and chaotic environment against hordes of bizarre monsters... which easily represents unrealistic over-the-top shooters such as Borderlands or Doom.
The Take That comes in that Epic and People Can Fly do not paint the enemies in a sympathetic light, and... well, they created Sarrano. That's really all there is to say on the matter.
Deadly Rotary Fan: There's a skillshot called "Sucker" for killing an enemy by knocking them into a fan.
Death World: Stygia used to be a beautiful resort town but a combination of horrible toxic waste, radioactive electrical storms, dangerous local wildlife and some twenty eight thousand escaped convicts turned it into the hellhole it now is. It's a beautiful hellhole though: those skylines are still amazing.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: There are skillshots for practically every single way to kill a mook, short of simply shooting them. Kicking them into a paste against the wall? "Graffiti". Knocking a hot dog stand into their face? "Fast Food". Blow the stand up instead? "Sausage Fest". Shooting them in the butt? "Rear Entry". Wrapping a mook with the Flail Gun and pulling another towards him before he explodes? "Smart Mine". Wrapping a mook with the Flail Gun and kicking him towards another enemy? "Homie Missile". Shoot an enemy in the throat and make him vomit blood? "Gag Reflex". The list goes on and on.
Managing to leash and subsequently kill a Flare Gunner mook (which is only achievable by making him airborne through other means) nets you the "Gotcha" skillshot. Epic Games is clearly aware how frustrating the agile enemies are. Alternately, you can shoot him in the leg, leash him, and finish him before he hits the ground.
Grayson: (after failing to leash an agile enemy) It ain't happenin!
Disintegrator Ray: The standard assault rifle isn't so hot as a weapon on its own but its charged shot is guaranteed to vaporize enemies, leaving behind a glowing skeleton. The skillshot for shooting someone in the head this way is "Overkill," while shooting someone as soon as you see them considers them "Boned." The best way to rack up points fast, however, is shooting through a group of enemies all at once with one shot for "X-Ray" which greatly multiplies how many points you get in one go.
Door To Before: Parodied. One of the few times you encounter this, it leads you right back to the room you were trying to escape from. Only now it's on fire.
Double Entendre: One of the loading screen tips: "Reload often. No one likes getting down to business half-cocked."
80-90% of the skillshot names include double entendre.
Elite Mooks: In the last level you fight Heavy Echo shock-troopers, General Sarrano's personal soldiers. These Gas Mask Mooks wear heavy armor and can survive almost twice as many bullets compared to the standard enemy types previously faced (they're still vulnerable to heavy weapons and skill kills, though). They also can fire a powerful charged shot that takes you from full health to almost dead with one hit.
Final Echo special forces would also count, only you never fight them in the game. Other than Triska, only one Final Echo operative appears in the game, near the beginning, and he gets killed in a cutscene shortly after you find him.
Enemy Civil War: There are at least three factions of enemies on Stygia: The mostly-human Skulls, the orange-skinned, agile Creeps, and late in the game Burnouts. They're all trying to kill each other (and you!) for food, since none of them are inclined towards agriculture.
Epic Flail: Greyson says this when he kills a mook with the Flail Gun.
Escape from the Crazy Place: Pretty much the entire point of the game, but without the amnesia element usually involved in the trope, as Grayson's entire initial goal is to get Ishi and himself off the planet.
Exploding Barrels: And exploding hot dog stands and exploding barbecues. The developers tried varying them by making the barrels green, but realized that playtesters simply weren't shooting them at all because "red=explosive" in gamers' minds, and in the frantic firefights you need to be able to quickly identify something like that.
Expy: The Burnouts are expys of the Mindless Ones from Nextwave. They don't shoot lasers from their faces, but they're big, nearly featureless, covered in black hard stuff, and they bleed orange goop. Oh yeah, and they explode and die instantly whenever you light them on fire. Your life has new meaning now.
Fire-Forged Friends: Grayson, Ishi, and Trishka start off with enough flaming vitrol between them to lift a blimp, but as the game progresses and they save each others' lives repeatedly, the boiling hatred starts to simmer down enough that the foul-mouthed insults are actually partially playful and friendly.
In the final scene Trishka explicitly says that she is genuinely sorry for deceased Ishi (who tried to killed her at least twice) and that Grayson is her true friend.
Five-Man Band: Okay so they didn't really operate as whole at any point, but the roles are there, clear as day.
Gatling Good: You can pick up mounted miniguns and carry them around for a while. Their internal power supply fails after about a minute, though, plus they overheat if you shoot them continuously, and last but not least, you don't get a lot of points for killing many guys with it as compared to varying your technique. That said, it is still pretty cool.
Giant Mook: The Minibosses / Brutes. They're armed with huge cannons and heavy armor, and can only be killed with special moves.
Gorn: Since the aim of the game is to make extreme violence as light-hearted and stylish as possible, this is par for the course. You can blow off enemy heads, incinerate the skin off their bones, kick them into electric generators, and impale them on various elements around the world. Deliver a boot to your target's face and watch as he flies off limply; aiming down the irons lets you slow the action down and pick your shots on their helpless body to maximize your brutality.
Groin Attack: Shooting an enemy between the legs causes them to writhe on the ground, screaming. Killing them nets you the skillshot "Mercy". Guiding a Head Hunter bullet into the enemy's crotch will net you the "Nutcracker" skillshot.
Half the Man He Used to Be: The Flail Gun is a grenade launcher that fires two grenades bound by a chain. Although normally they simply wrap around whoever they hit, its secondary fire heats the chain to the point where they slice through whoever they hit, getting you the "Chain Reaction" skillshot. There's also Meat Slicer, what happens when you fire the Flail Gun and one end catches on something solid, and the other end swings into an enemy, cutting him in half. This is a great way of dealing with gatling gun enemies, as it will wrap around the gun, and chop the person running it in half. And even if it doesn't, you can detonate the bob and kill the enemy that way.
Alternatively, you could just use the shotgun at point blank. There's two skillshots to be earned this way, and which one you get is dependent on which half is left behind. Legless for if the torso stays, Topless if the legs do.
Heel Realization: The Dead Echo members realize they've been killing innocent people when they log onto the computer of their last victim.
Helicopter Blender: The helicopter has crashed and is therefore stationary in this case, with the blades preventing you from progressing. Punting an enemy into it earns you the Sucker skillshot, and Minced Meat for the miniboss; see Ring Out Boss further down.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The names of most of the chapters (if not all of them) are dialogue excerpts from the chapters themselves, leading to names such as "I See We're All a Bit Upset...." and "That Thing Is Leaving Without Us"
I'm a Humanitarian: There are no farms on Stygia, but lots of humans (or once-humans). Thus, most of the terrible gangs survive by eating each other.
Newsbot: "The food supply is gone. Dr. Phylis (message glitches) suggests cannibalism. With odds of survival this low, who can blame you? Tastes just like (message glitches)
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The last weapon to be unlocked is the mighty drill-launching Penetrator, which can impale most enemies on walls, the ceiling, or each other.
The "Voodoo Doll" and "Pricked" skillshots require you to kick an enemy into exposed rebar/barbed wire and a giant cactus, respectively.
Immune to Bullets: Several mooks, so long as they're wearing helmets. Grayson's boot apparently does more damage than a bullet since the easiest way to kill them is to hit them with a slide kick first, then shoot them.
Burnouts play this even more straight, as they can't be killed simply by shooting them; you either have to shoot them in their glowing weak spots, or kill them with explosives or environmental hazards.
Improbable Age: Trishka is, officially◊, 18. Yet she already holds the rank of Commodore/Squadron Commander and is the leader of what is supposed to be the galaxy's most elite spec ops unit. Then again, her entire character is based on Bellisario's Maxim, so it's not particularly egregious.
Kicked Across The Room: Aside of Grayson, the Anarchy Mode's Final Echo goons are also graduates of the Duke Nukem school of [ putting your foot through things. Not only does it send enemies flying, it sends them into slow motion and does a fair bit of damage besides. More importantly, it's key to setting up many skillshots.
Kill It with Fire: The Screamer's Charge Attack is ostensibly a signal flare which not only launches the mooks it hits back ten feet then explode violently, but also causes everyone else in its detonation proximity to burst into flames. This affects practically anyone in the game (Even mini-bosses!) and makes them vulnerable as kittens AND sets the player up for the Afterburner skillshot on all its secondary victims.
By far the best solution for Burnouts. It's also the most fun.
Getting hit with this by the mooks who originally wield it blinds you, and if you can kill something while blinded, you get the skillshot "Blind fire" for 100 points.
Mama Bear: Mess with the Hekaton's eggs and she'll hunt you down.
Man-Eating Plant: Lashing a guy into the range of a giant venus flytrap is yet another skillshot. There's also a giant version that serves as a boss.
Meaningful Name: The Hekaton, almost certainly named after the Hekatonkheires, giants from ancient greek mythology that were said to have strength and fury surpassing that of the Titans. The Hekaton might not have a hundred hands and fifty heads, but it's certainly strong, and it's very, very angry.
Stygia is derived from Styx, the river of the dead in the Greek underworld. Doubles as Non-Indicative Name; although it sums up the planet's current state perfectly, it's not what you'd expect a paradise to be named.
Mexican Standoff: After arriving at the hotel, Trishka and Grayson have their guns trained on an unarmed Sarrano. It's a standoff because Ishi has sided with the general, as he's still hell-bent on getting off world and needs the general alive.
More Dakka: The Peace Maker Carbine's charged shot is explained, in universe, as the gun simultaneously firing 100 bullets at the same time, allowing more dakka in a split-second than most games would allow in one minute.
Mundane Utility: One of your moves sends you sliding along the ground. You can use it to evade enemy fire, get up close and personal quickly, send enemies flying... or move through crawlspaces quickly.
But damned if that isn't the coolest way to move through crawlspaces.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Virtually everything that happens in this game is a direct result of Grayson's actions coming back to bite him in the ass, starting with assaulting the Ulysses, suicide-attacking it, disturbing the Hekaton's nest, and last but not least, activating the DNA bomb for Sarrano.
One-Hit Kill: If you manage to score a headshot with the Screamer without hitting them anywhere else, you get awarded the "One Hit Wonder" skillshot. And if you do it with a charged shot, it's called Enlightenment. The charge shots on all your weapons function this way.
Overheating: Miniguns can easily overheat if you go full auto for a sustained period of time - which is odd, as the entire point of six barrels is to avoid overheating. Evidently, on Stygia, more barrels just means More Dakka.
Personal Space Invader: Once you're comfortable with the game's Skill Shot system, it starts throwing these at you to keep you from sitting back and picking off enemies with a long ranged weapon, and they come in three flavors: Knife-wielding, bomb-wielding, and superpowered mutant. The knife-wielders are never much more than an irritation. The bomb-wielders can strap a bomb around you which means you can't shoot for several seconds and will kill you on higher difficulty settings or if you're already injured. And the Burnouts are a regenerating pain in the ass that need to be killed with dismembering or otherwise immobilizing SkillShots.
Plot-Induced Stupidity: It's painfully obvious that Sarrano is setting up a trap for the player when he takes you to the bomb. The activation code is literally "URADUMBTIT". Unfortunately, you have to believe it for the game to continue.
Precision F-Strike: Shockingly enough, in a game this liberal with the cursing, Ishi still manages to deliver one when he talks about what they'll do to Sarrano once they get off the planet. This is because he swears maybe two times before it, neither of which were insults.
Press X to Not Die: The game is riddled with quick-time events, but they are far more forgiving of mistakes. It's based more on reward than punishment, mostly giving you extra skillpoints for faster reactions, and slowing the game down further and further the longer you take to push the correct button. A more conventional versions appears with the Venus Flytraps. Don't mash Y quick enough? You die.
Ring Out Boss: One battle has you stunning a large enemy so you can kick him in the face and send him back. One of the few ways to kill him is to finally knock him into the helicopter blades at the other end of the walkway. Another one includes Shotgun blasts. Not as much as a kick, but they can stun him too. It's possible to kick it into the blades before your allies have finished their exposition.
Rule of Cool: Not only employed (liberally) but is an actual gameplay element: the more complex, outlandish, and extreme your kills are, the larger the point bonus awarded.
Spikes Of Doom: Yanking or kicking a bad guy into rebar or similarly sharp, pointy objects nets you the "Voodoo Doll" skillshot. Hurling them into a cactus, meanwhile, gets you "Pricked". And unlike some attacks, it still retains a high point reward for doing it repeatedly (most skillshots drop to fifty or lower after your first use. Voodoo Doll and other Kick into the scenery attacks give 100 points every time).
Sticky Bomb: The Flail Gun. It shoots out two explosives attached by a chain that sticks to virtually anything then detonated remotely, allowing it to function as either a traditional mine gun or as a means to restrain enemies for use as living bombs.
Stuck Items: You can't ever un-equip the assault rifle, which means you only really have a choice of two other weapons besides it.
Stripped to the Bone: The Charge Shots of the Peacemaker and Boneduster inflict this on enemies. The Boneduster's even goes through walls.
The Carbine's charged attack is a one hit kill on its own, but you can get a headshot with it to net "Overkill".
Title Drop: Minigun Minibosses often exclaim "Bullet storm!" before opening up. Also, in several missions Gray will quote the title of the chapter, such as "Last Train out of Explosion Town" and "Worst Family Fun Vacation Ever".
This Is a Drill: The final weapon you get in the game is a weapon that shoots drill missiles. It's an instant kill for any enemy other than minibosses or regular bosses, and if it pins a mook to the wall, you can watch as the enemy spins on the wall from the drill stuck in him, tearing off limbs as it goes, until it's just a torso.
Alternate Fire mode lets you spin the drill while you slide into enemies, killing them. Very useful in a packed corridor situation.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Not only is it entirely possible to wrap a pair of chain-bound grenades around an enemy's head and detonate them, sending other bad guys flying into space, you get rewarded for it.
Video Game Demake: DoomStorm, a Doom modification that takes the weapons (complete with charge functions!), leash and kick from this game, and applies them to any "vanilla" Doom WAD. Considering that we're talking about a game that's almost twenty years old now, that's no mean feat.
We Hardly Knew Ye: The rest of Gray's crew besides Ishi in the prologue and first chapter. Parodied with Waggleton P. Tallylicker's death, complete with requisite "fallen soldier" music.
You Bastard: Mocked with Serrano, who constantly attempts guilt tripping Grayson and Ishi for killing soldiers with families and victims of an apocalypse who used to be mothers and children. Serrano likes tossing them in with childish insults and psychopathic threats, so they don't hold much water.
Your Head Asplode: The result of many head shots, but this game's sniper rifle comes with a charged attack that allows you to detonate the bullet after it hits, making this trope a tad more literal than usual.