Published on February 24th, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

Bulletstorm VR Review

Bulletstorm VR Review Gareth Newnham

Summary: Bulletstorm is phenomenal game, I'm just not sure it works in VR.


Drunken Lullabies

Bulletstorm VR is a great idea but poorly executed. That is to say, the idea of taking a bonafide (cult) classic from gaming’s past and breathing new life into it in VR is a fantastic idea, but maybe Bulletstorm simply wasn’t quite the right vehicle for it.

It’s something that more studios should think of doing, especially now that the limitations of the hardware to translate more complex and visually appealing games into the medium are all but gone at this point.


The problem is that the VR version of People Can Fly’s anarchic classic doesn’t quite have the same impact, despite arguably being far more immersive.

Bulletstorm remains one of my favourite shooters of the 360 era; it was funny, inventive, and simply kicked all kinds of ass. When it got a second chance at life with an unlikely remaster for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, I was overjoyed.

When I saw there was a VR version in the works, well, sign me up. Any excuse to go on another trip through the surprisingly sharp satire of manly macho men and 80s sci-fi action movies, with the surprisingly charming Grayson Hunt and the Dead Echo team, and the thought of playing the game in VR was an incredibly tempting offer to boot.

At its core Bulletstorm has a great primary gameplay loop that crosses traditional FPS action with a points system akin to something like Tony Hawk.

Armed with a bevy of devastating weapons, your trusty energy leash, and your mighty boot, you’re amply rewarded for tearing apart your foes in the most over-the-top ways possible. The bigger and more varied a combo you can wrack up by gunning down or dropkicking a grunt into the nearest cactus, electric fence, or exploding barrel, the more Skillpoints you earn, and the quicker you can upgrade your equipment to perform, even more outlandish kills.

The problem is in VR, despite now having the ability to independently aim with each hand and shoot, kick and fling enemies around with reckless abandon. Though more immersive, the extra steps needed to accomplish most basic functions make it harder to enter the flow state needed to rack up points successfully.

Case in point is Shooting; with the default settings, you now need to grab a clip, toss it in the chamber and cock your gun before you can fire (though thankfully, this can be changed to a single button press in the options) You also need to remember to keep a tight grip on your gun at all times, or Hunt will simply drop it (remember to toggle that off in the options too), and any machine gun you’re carrying is going to require you to hold it with both hands if you want to hit your target with any degree of accuracy.

The energy leash fairs a lot better, though, with you aiming it independently either by moving your head or with your left hand and then literally yanking the buggers towards you before flicking the right analogue stick to kick them away. A manoeuvre that never fails to be a ton of fun, especially when it ends with the unfortunate sod you’ve just punted landing in a meat grinder.

The main problem, though, is that the combo system rewards diving about the place like a lunatic. This includes dashing, sliding, booting, and shooting baddies into all manner of contraptions and traps for bonus points. All well and good when you’re playing on the TV with a normal pad, but with the helmet on, it doesn’t take long for all the ducking and diving to make you feel more than a little queasy. Sliding, in particular, made me feel nauseous in no time at all.

Outside of the main campaign, there are two extra missions starring Trisha Novak that see you slicing and diving through enemies with her energy blade. And that’s your lot, the coop and multiplayer modes of the previous versions arent included for now at least.

Although Bulletstorm VR still has all the explosive set pieces from the original, with the added benefit of now being more immersive than ever, thanks to the wonders of VR. The graphical polish of the game is all over the place. Sometimes, it looks like the PS4 remaster, and other times, it is worse than the 360 original.

It also inherits some issues through virtue of being a port of a 13-year-old game. Your AI partners are dumb as a box of rocks and will happily unload clips into walls near enemies and sometimes just ignore them entirely. Also there are a lot of cutscenes which breaks the immersion as you’ll be transported away from the action to a 2D theatre mode, there is the option to watch them in stereoscopic 3D but it doesn’t work as well as it could.

One thing that’s still fantastic is its irreverent sense of humour and top-tier voice cast, thanks mostly to protagonist Grayson Hunt being played by a drunken Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Wolverine), who is obviously having an absolute ball chewing the scenery.

Although there’s a wealth of different comfort options available, including all kinds of locomotion and turning tweaks, the game is one that runs along at a very fast pace regardless, which could cause a lot of discomfort for players who haven’t got their VR legs and some of the vehicle sections can be quite rough even if you do.

Final Thoughts

Bulletstorm is a fantastic game, but unfortunately, it just doesn’t translate all that well to VR. The fast-paced, combo-chasing gameplay is still as frantic as ever, but the more laboured controls make racking up combos a lot harder, and the speed of the action can be uncomfortable at times. That being said, it’s great to be immersed in the world, and seeing some of Bulletstom’s grander set pieces up close is an absolute treat and Steve Blum’s turn as Grayson Hunt remains incredibly entertaining; it’s just difficult to recommend it over the recent remaster.

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