When it first launched in 2011, Bulletstorm earned mostly positive reviews from critics, yet failed to meet sales expectations. Despite this, developer People Can Fly hasn’t given up on Bulletstorm, releasing the remastered Full Clip Edition in 2017 and partnering with Incuvo to make the newly-released virtual reality version of the game, Bulletstorm VR. Unfortunately, Bulletstorm VR is a complete misfire and by far the worst way to play the game.
Bulletstorm VR is an aggressively ugly game, with visuals that look worse than its 2011 counterpart. Textures are often muddy when they bother to load in, with the game clearly failing to take advantage of the PlayStation VR2’s graphical capabilities. However, it’s easy to look past bad graphics if the gameplay can make up for it, but Bulletstorm VR‘s gameplay does not.
Bulletstorm VR gameplay works like one might expect. Its basics are largely the same as the original, but with added interactivity to take advantage of the VR hardware, which means reloading, climbing, and pulling switches all require players to physically perform these actions. Combat is as basic as it comes at first, but things open up significantly once players get their hands on the “leash,” which is a plasma whip-like tool that lets players yank enemies out of cover, leaving them suspended in the air and susceptible to gunfire.
At its core, Bulletstorm VR‘s combat is fun. Blasting enemies to pieces with the ridiculous four-barreled shotgun never gets old, and the game’s scoring system encourages experimentation. Like in the original, Bulletstorm VR challenges players to kill enemies in flashy ways in exchange for points that can be used to upgrade one’s arsenal and buy charges that let players utilize each weapon’s unique ability. These abilities include things like the magnum’s flare that digs into enemies and shoots them into the air like a firework, and the assault rifle’s overload shot that vaporizes anyone unlucky enough to be hit by it.
Bulletstorm VR offers some unique combat opportunities that take good advantage of the hardware, with players able to dual-wield weapons and do things like guide their sniper bullets by tilting their actual head. When it works, Bulletstorm VR offers action-packed FPS encounters that are plenty entertaining, but the problem is, guns often don’t work as intended.
Bulletstorm VR is a complete misfire and by far the worst way to play the game.
Guns in Bulletstorm VR can be unwieldy, to say the least. It’s easy to get them stuck on the environment when trying to quickly swap between them, and sometimes they even get stuck on thin air. It’s incredibly frustrating to be bombarded with enemies only to find it completely impossible to hold the gun properly. The guns also like to fly out of control, with one of the most annoying sections in the game being a train ride that has players using a mini-gun to shoot enemies out of the sky. Bulletstorm VR‘s mini-gun is impossible to use accurately or effectively, so all players can do is keep their fingers crossed that their shots land.
Shooting is the most important thing for an FPS game to get right, so Bulletstorm VR‘s issues in this department make the game a complete bust. The rest of the game doesn’t work terribly well either. Sliding doesn’t translate well to VR, and it’s really easy to accidentally kick when trying to rotate the camera.
One of VR’s greatest advantages is how it can immerse players in games in ways that traditional games can’t, but Bulletstorm VR fails to get players immersed in its world. The bad graphics are a big part of that, but the general presentation and cutscenes are to blame as well. The game is cut up into short snippets where gameplay is interrupted by brief, but annoying black loading screens, and the cutscenes pull players completely out of the world to make them sit and watch screens like they’re in a movie theater. What’s worse is that these scenes look off, with one early cutscene looking bizarrely bright.
In its current state, it’s impossible to recommend Bulletstorm VR to anyone, even diehard fans of the original. That being said, the game does have some redeeming qualities. The combat is admittedly quite fun when everything works, and there is some new content in the VR version that puts players in the role of Trishka Novak. The new Trishka levels have players using the same arsenal utilized by protagonist Grayson Hunt, but with the added energy blade that can be used to slice through groups of enemies and cut ropes for some added environmental destruction.
Trishka is fun to play, and her energy blade is a perfect fit for VR. Even so, the new levels don’t add enough to make Bullestorm VR worth buying, even for the most dedicated Bulletstorm fans. In fact, hardcore Bulletstorm fans will likely be annoyed by how the VR version censors some of the game’s dialogue. Now, many found Bulletstorm‘s writing obnoxious, but there’s no denying that toning it down ensures that this VR port is simply not a proper representation of what Bulletstorm is. It’s yet another reason why this new VR version is the worst way to experience the game.
There is some hope that Bulletstorm VR will improve in time. People Can Fly and Incuvo have already indicated that updates are on the way, but the game will need some massive overhauls to even come close to being as good as the original. For now, anyone itching to replay Bulletstorm should stick with Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition.
- Combat can be fun when it works
- New levels starring Trishka
- Ugly graphics
- Shooting simply doesn’t work like it should a lot of the time
- Constantly breaks immersion with black screens and static cutscenes
- Censored dialogue
- Visual glitches and crashes
Bulletstorm VR is available for Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest 3, PlayStation VR2, and PC VR headsets. Game Rant was provided a code for the PlayStation VR2 version of the game.