Bulletstorm is a silly game. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's actually a bit of a parody of the FPS genre. It's full of over-the-top violence and F-bombs and campy humor. In that regard, it comes across the same way as the Grindhouse era work of Tarantino and Rodriguez. Which is to say, the game leans hard into the stereotypes of the genre, but is also totally in on the joke. An outsider might see it as a b-movie, rather than a knowing homage to b-movies.
Because of all this, I think the game was mostly overlooked at release. I mean, the title and the packaging are totally nondescript. You've got a super generic title. Bulletstorm might as well be Bonestorm. And that cover? Whoever was hired was obviously told "just make the most generic and macho action game cover you can," succeeded. But that comes at an expense. "Wow, look at that cover art! I MUST buy this game and see what it's all about," said nobody ever.
I assume that most anyone who did play this game did so because of word of mouth. I told a buddy about it and he said that he'd owned multiple copies of this game by accident. They had come in multiple game lots he'd picked up. He's sold Bulletstorm at least four times without ever having an interest in giving it a try.
Those of us who did try it were in for a bit of a treat. Now, please don't think I'm raving about this one like some long lost hidden gem. It's not. But it is good in a fun and somewhat shallow way. The same way I might enjoy putting on the Comet channel and watching an old unknown horror movie late on a Saturday night. Bulletstorm is full of dumb dialogue and insane action sequencese. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's fun as heck.
Speaking of heck - in a welcome addition you can actually turn off the the swearing and blood. So it's like you can make your own TV syndicated version of Machete. Y'know? I left those things in and played the full-fat R-rated version. But my buddy has some young teens that he'd rather play a PG-13 version of this one.
Okay, let me back up briefly. The plot is your usual kind of space marines stuff. There's a betrayal from the upper brass. Then there's a revenge mission. Oh, and a cyborg dude. Kind of imagine if The Asylum made a bootleg version of Halo or something.
But trust me, you're not here for the plot. The gameplay is what elevates this game up enough to keep you interested. The best way I can describe it is a fast paced arcade take on the FPS genre. If anything, this feels forward thinking in a pre-Doom (2016) world. Early on you'll receive a sort of grappling hook device, which you can use to grab enemies and bring them toward you. When you do this, things go into slow motion bullet-time and that's where things get interesting.
You see, using the grappling hook and slowing down time allows you to do some pretty interesting things. You can grab dudes and headshot them in the air. You can grab explosive barrels and blow them up as they're flying through a mob. You can slow-mo a dude and kick him off a tower to fall to his death. And so on. And the more creative your kills, the more points you earn towards upgrading your weapons and skills. It turns the game into a bit of a bloody ballet.
While a bulk of the settings feel uninspired - think generic space craft level; generic desert planet level; and so on - and while much of the maps feel like corridors your herded down until you reach the next checkpoint, there are some totally incredible maps as well. One map finds you inside a movie studio that's shooting a kaiju movie. Thus, you're walking on a set made up of a recreation of a metropolis that you tower over. Oh, and then instead of fighting a kaiju, you CONTROL it!
These are the kinds of curveballs that make the game worth checking out. It's a short game as well. A true popcorn flick FPS.
When the HD consoles first started to appear, I wasn't all that sold on them. Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 were big bulky behemoths that cost a lot of money, and were promoting games that looked too flashy to me. And so for a while there, I didn't think I really needed a new console. I was still content to dig through the bargain bins and explore forgotten gems of the so-called "last gen."
And then one fateful Saturday my wife and I were doing some Christmas shopping at the mall (remember malls?) and they had some Xbox 360's set up with Street Fighter IV running on them. At the time, I thought Street Fighter IV looked awful because the sprites of II and III had been replaced by ridiculously flashy HD art. But then I played the game, and I was hooked.
So yeah, Street Fighter IV sold me an entire generation of hardware. And when Marvel Vs Capcom 3 was announced, I picked up a copy day one. I even still have the promo t-shirt. While I never got any good at MvC3 back then, I can tell you that me and my friends were really big on fighting games around this time. In fact, there were a group of us who would meet up once a week online for a fight night. We dabbled with pretty much every fighting game released during this time, but Street Fighter IV and Marvel Vs Capcom 3 were two of the biggest.
Oddly, I think that those two games also became a bit of a sore subject at some point. Street Fighter IV in particular got so many updates and not everyone was willing to buy the new version. Meanwhile, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 graduated to "Ultimate" status less than a year after launch. In fact, Ultimate MvC3 is the one I'm playing now as well, though it was eventually ported to Xbox One proper.
Obviously this third iteration had some pretty big shoes to fill. Marvel Vs Capcom 2 is still to this day a bit of a gold standard within the genre. And I can understand why. If we're talking about best fighters from the late 90's/early 2000's, MvC2 isn't quite Street Fighter III or Garou: Mark Of The Wolves. But it's up there! And there's no doubt that it's iconic in a way that is difficult to replicate.
Replaying Marvel Vs Capcom 3 now over a decade later, I can really see this is a better game than I even remembered. It looks great, it plays great, it has excellent music and impressive roster. What's not to like, really?
A big point of derision upon release was the "dumbing down" of the controls. Instead of sticking with MvC2's control scheme, there's now basically a three-button system meant to be a bit more inclusive to newcomers to fighting games. I think this bothered purists, but now we've got the hindsight of the last decade where we've the seen the genre as a whole go in this direction. Heck, in a world where Smash is probably the biggest name in the genre, MvC3 may still seem complicated by comparison.
And for me, what I really enjoy here is the awesomeness of the roster. I'm always a fan of fighting games that make some interesting additions (or exclusions) to their rosters in sequels.
On the Marvel side there's the super obvious inclusions like Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wolverine. But it's the deep cuts that real grab my attention here. I mean, there's some genuinely nerdy additions considering the MCU would only finally assemble The Avengers in 2012. There's Deadpool who hadn't yet appeared in his own acclaimed movie. There's She-Hulk long before she had her own Disney+ show. There's X-23 before anyone had seen the noire majesty of Logan. And the Ultimate expansion adds more cult-favorites like Ghost Rider and Doctor Strange, but even cooler is Rocket Racoon way before Guardians Of The Galaxy even dropped a trailer.
The Capcom side is just as interesting. Obviously including the usual Street Fighter (Ryu, Chun-Li) and Darkstalkers (Morrigan, Felicia) mainstays is important. But how about Albert Wesker, Chris Redfield and Nemesis from Resident Evil? How about Arthur and Firebrand from Ghosts N Goblins? I mean Strider makes sense, but there's some true oddballs like Ace Attorney, Viewtiful Joe, and Zero. This is a gamers' game, no doubt.
Most importantly, MvC3 is fun. Its controls are really tight, and yet it has the verticality of the MvC series that has always been missing from Street Fighter. If anything, the MvC games feel more like Darkstalkers, and since we probably won't get another Darkstalkers game anytime soon, that's a good thing. I always remember loving Marvel Vs Capcom 3 back in 2011-2012, but I guess over the years I've wondered if maybe it wouldn't be as good if I replayed it now. It turns out I had nothing to fear. It's just as good as I remembered. In fact, I think it may actually be better than I remembered.