It was surprising to see a shooter with plasma lassos, cannonball launchers and wang jokes sell so poorly. Being a collaborative title between People Can Fly and Epic Games, sales were not so hot for Bulletstorm, despite the copious amounts of praise. Some time later, Gearbox stepped into the picture and published a remastered version of the game back in 2017 with pimped up visuals, new content and the like. Recently, Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch appeared on the Nintendo eShop without warning. While it definitely feels like a shooter from almost a decade ago, this port is still packing heat.
In the 27th century, black ops super-soldier Grayson Hunt ends up being tricked into killing civilians by his former commanding officer General Sarrano. After a drunken attempt at revenge a decade later, Gray’s ship crash-lands on a mutant-infested holiday resort, killing most of his mates. Two things are on his mind now: escaping, and getting his revenge. As overly-serious as the plot is, there’s plenty of silly banter and crude jokes that make it all the more worthwhile. Plus, you can play the campaign as Duke Nukem, with new one-liners and fourth wall-breaking dialogue.
It’s apparent that Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch still holds onto those predictable tropes from those dark times when every game developer was trying to pound out Call of Duty and Halo-clones. It has regenerating health, frequent scripted sequences that slow the game down at times, uninteresting collectibles, mandatory quick time events, enemies who enjoy standing next to explosive barrels, an all-rounder assault rifle that you’ll be using for most of the game, and so on.
To call it a cookie-cutter shooter would be a colossal lie, however. You’ll be gradually fed a deadly arsenal of badass weapons. Weapons like a sniper rifle with remote-controlled bullets and a grenade launcher that fires bombs held together by chains are there for the taking. Alternate fire modes are also available, which can turn your assault rifle into a deadly charged-up cannon, or a pistol into a flare gun. It’s not a huge arsenal, but boy is it a great one. You’ll need to find drop kits scattered through each mission in order to get upgrades, ammo, and change your loadout. Thankfully, these are common.
The coolest weapon of the game, without a drip of a doubt, has to be the Energy Leash. This plasma-like whip can pull enemies close to you, leaving them floating in mid-air as if they were suspended in slow-motion. Even your melee attacks have the same effect on the enemies. There well over 160 different ways you can kill foes (known as ‘Skillshots’), all of which offer point payouts. You can kick them into something pointy, send them flying off a cliff, ignite them with a flare while in mid-air, and more. Essentially, you’re encouraged to kill in the most creative and gruesome ways possible for bigger rewards, in order to pay for the goodies that the drop kits have on offer. It’s when the combat and shooting truly does shine when the game decides to throw a battalion of baddies at you.
Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch is pretty streamlined with its level layouts, not helped by the aforementioned scripted events that end up padding out precious playtime that could be spent killing. Thankfully, there are plenty of memorable battles to take place, like on a dam falling apart at the seams ,a theme park featuring a controllable monster equipped with lasers a train being pursued by bandits and a gigantic cogwheel wheel. All of it still looks pretty damn good, thanks to some fairly colourful visuals and creative set pieces. In total, there’s around 5 to 6 hours of carnage to keep you amused.
The Switch port runs smoothly, whether docked or handheld, at a consistent 30 frames-per-second. Loading times barely take more than a few seconds, and being able to instantly drop in and out of the action thanks to the console’s capabilities is like sugar sprinkled on top. While there are a few slight niggles involving texture pop-up and your allies inexplicably floating mid-air, these are not particularly common and hardly sour the experience.
There’s a bit of grave news, though. The multiplayer component of Bulletstorm, those being the Anarchy (co-op) and Echo Challenge modes, are MIA from this port. The only additional mode that’s adding some extra meat to the pot is the unlockable Overkill mode, where you can replay the game with all of the guns unlocked. That being said, it’s a fair bit cheaper to buy compared to the other ports out there.
Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch packs in some seriously fun gunfights, satisfying weaponry, and sadistic ways to clock up the death toll for big rewards. The Duke Nukem DLC is a very nice addition, as his brash and smug personality perfectly fits the banterous and darkly humorous tone of the somewhat-serious plot. There’s little to fault regarding its visuals and performance; they all work really well here on the Switch. It may be stripped of its multiplayer and haunted by FPS tropes of the past, yet its addictive and rewarding combat makes this port a solid pick.
Game code supplied by Gearbox.