As you guys know, Iím not super-excited for Bulletstorm. I never planned on talking about it this much, exactly, because I typically try to avoid focusing on things that I donít find super-fascinating. However, the amount of rabble-rousing I accomplished with my now semi-infamous ďCliffy B rantĒ has led to me being that guy who hates Bulletstorm with a furious passion, thinks violent games are for antisocial man-children, and feels that all games should be more like Stars Over Half-Moon Bay.
This is not the case. I love mindless virtual killing and childish antics in a video game. In my life, Iíve probably completed about six missions in all of the Grand Theft Auto series, because I spend the majority of my time in those games punching old women and blowing up cars. I can appreciate innovative gameplay and the importance of a good story, too, but I think itís funny to shoot dudes in the face.
I also appreciate humor in games. I think itís one of the big elements thatís been left out. You ask people about games that are known for their comedy, theyíll probably say Conkerís Bad Fur Day or Portal. Try and name ten games that youíd say are, without hesitation, funny games. Itís kinda tricky.
Bulletstorm is being played up as a ridiculous, over-the-top shooter that encourages creative gunplay and doesnít take itself too seriously. Itís a game where you can shoot a man in the crotch, get bonus points for that, and then use an electric whip to punt him into a giant venus fly trap.
Why wouldnít I be excited for it? Well, aside from the fact that I donít like Cliffy Bís haircut -- I know it's not his game, but he's the one plugging it. That's the downside of having a hype-man, people tend to associate him with the cause he's promoting. Dude, you're getting a Dell! -- Anyway, Bulletstorm seems muddled. To call it over-ambitious isnít quite right, but it seems like a game thatís attempting too many different things at once. Hereís the premise, according to Wikipedia:
ďBulletstorm takes place in a futuristic paradise setting where a confederation is being protected by an elite band of epic mercenaries known as Dead Echo. When Dead Echo member Grayson Hunt, voiced by Steve Blum, and Ishi Sato discover that they had been working on the wrong side, they betray their squad commander and end up being exiled to the edges of the galaxy.Ē
Okay, so. Itís about space guys in a universe thatís totally new to us. Weíve got a new hero named Grayson Hunt. This could all be very promising science fiction. Oh, but wait. Nevermind that. The reason Iím supposed to be excited for the game is the crazy shit you can do with your guns and laser-lasso and giant boots.
Dude, you're wearing more straps and zippers than an entire ska band.
Why bother making up characters and a plot if the main focus of Bulletstorm is the insane gameplay?
Back in the early days of the first person shooter, you didnít play as a character. Remember the heroes of Doom, Wolfenstein, and Quake? Exactly. And how about Epic Gamesí first big hit, Unreal? Your character didnít have a name, and that franchise didnít really blow up up until Unreal Tournament came out. And the plot of UT was pretty straightforward: Shoot dudes.
Playing a game with barely any plot is fine with me, assuming the game is fun. And if youíre letting me play with super-cool weapons, I really donít care what character Iím supposed to be controlling. Just donít half-ass it. Unreal Tournament was fun as shit because it wasnít being served with a side of terrible story. A gun that shoots ricochetting circular sawblades is a fine substitute for story.
On the subject of Gears of War, a gun with a chainsaw on it is fucking awesome. It is, also, totally ridiculous. From what I can tell, that series is not supposed to be funny, and I therefore laugh AT it, not WITH it.
Now, letís talk about Duke Nukem Forever, and why Iím excited for it, in spite of my apparent distaste for all things fun and stupid.
I like video games that look like something you'd see airbrushed on the side of a van
The character Duke Nukem first appeared as the hero of a self-titled 1991 platformer, which was about as adult-oriented and violent as Kid Chameleon. You were a musclebound guy in a red shirt boots with a gun who ran around picking up cans of soda and footballs. In 1996, Duke Nukem 3D came out. You were still the same character, really, except now you swore a lot, used steroids, and threw twenty dollar bills at strippers. Also, the game was a gory first-person-shooter. But you still played as Duke Nukem.
According to his creators, Duke Nukem is a cross between John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The majority of his one-liners are stolen from John Carpenter movies or the Evil Dead trilogy. Heís established as a world-renowned womanizer, he loves beer, and he kicks ass. All these complex facets of his multifaceted character are established in Duke Nukem 3D with three ending cinematics, a handful of title cards, and grainy in-game dialogue. At the time, the game was quite heavy on character and plot for an FPS.
If you havenít picked up on it by now, Iím a fan of Duke Nukem, and Iíve been one since I was ten years old. Iím biased, duh. However, there are some glaringly obvious differences between Duke Nukem Forever and Bulletstorm, and when people say ďDude, theyíre both stupid/fun shooters, whatís the problem?Ē it makes me facepalm so hard and curse at you through my computer screen.
Bulletstorm takes place on a distant planet covered with weird plants, and it makes no attempt to connect with my boring life on earth. Itís just wacky science fiction.
"We've gotta defeat the evil Plantazoids and rescue Queen Chrysanthemum!"
Duke Nukem, however, takes place in the not-too-distant future of America. There are still strip clubs, beer, and football games on TV, but there are also shrink rays, aliens, and flying cars. Itís relateable.
"Those alien bastards can fuck up outer space all they want, but when they mess with America... It's WAR."
This is just a manner of personal taste, so you donít have to agree with me, but hopefully you can see how glaringly different it makes the two games.
I donít insist all fiction be grounded in earthly reality, because that would be boring, but sometimes I really just donít care about space shit. Bulletstorm is one of these times. Because it's such a fun, silly game, I really don't know why it looks the way it does. Instead of a bunch of space-assholes with high tech weapons fighting mutants and plants on another planet, it couldíve taken place on earth. In modern day. The bad guys could still be mutant aliens, and the crazy weapons could have been made by a wacky inventor.
To say Bulletstorm is unimaginative would be incorrect. It's just imaginative in a way that I'm not interested in. Instead of outer space, it coulda taken place in Victorian London, and everything would've been steampunk. Still wouldíve been a crazy and ridiculous game, but it wouldnít have completely blended in with the nine billion other games that take place on planets that I donít care about. Name me one good Steampunk first person shooter. And donít say Bioshock, because that shit took place in 1960 and there weren't any zeppelins.
I will give Bulletstorm credit for being colorful. Too many games these days mistake ďrealisticĒ for ďeverything is covered in mud and dirt.Ē Other than that,though, I donít think the art direction showed any innovation. In ten years, will Bulletstorm look cool, or will it look like what people thought was cool in 2011?
The look of Duke Nukem Forever reminds me of Idiocracy. Itís a satirical caricature of American Culture. It's like if the whole world was a Kid Rock video.
All hail President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho Graphics aside, the appearance of Duke Nukem 3D is as relevant as when it was released. Dukeís character has never been cool, heís just a generic action hero, and no oneís tried to give him a hip new makeover since his creation. I applaud this. He's always been a hackneyed pile of cliches.
As a character, whose design looks more dated: Mario or Crash Bandicoot? Mario looks like a cartoon plumber, because thatís what he is. Crash Bandicoot looks like the lead singer of the fucking Offspring, because thatís what was cool when someone was designing him.
Oh, go fucking hang yourself, you x-treme alternative shit.
It seriously comes down to pretentious art-faggy nitpicking, and how Iím just not a fan of how a lot of games look these days. The fact that Duke Nukem Forever hasnít been redesigned as something hip and relevant pleases me. It just looks like the logical progression of the style Duke Nukem 3D had thirteen years ago.
After all the fussin and a-feudiní Iíve been involved in over Bulletstorm, I am actually kinda curious about it, so I'll probably play around with the demo soon. Duke Nukem Forever, however, is gonna be tits. Like, for realz.