Gory Gaming: Bulletstorm Performance Analyzed

Although the game had significant performance issues when it was released, Bulletstorm now benefits from the latest graphics drivers and a patch from its developers. Now is the perfect time to see what kind of hardware this game requires for smooth play.

Bulletstorm is a title we were eager to try for a number of reasons. The viral marketing approach, with a Halo-mocking trailer and demo that pokes fun at the Call of Duty series, definitely provided a few laughs. The ultra-violent “Skillshot” system looked intriguing. We were also interested in testing the newest iteration of Epic’s Unreal 3 engine. All told, that was enough motivation for us to take an in-depth look at the game and its performance.

MSI provided a variety of graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia for our tests in order to demonstrate what kind of frame rates you can expect to get from Bulletstorm across a wide spectrum of hardware. We're looking at both single-card and SLI/CrossFire performance, too. But before digging into the data, let’s go over the game for folks who aren’t familiar with it.

Bulletstorm might be best described as shoot 'em up-style with a furious pace and a delinquent sense of humor. Most enemies are outclassed by such a large margin that you’re more concerned with the elegance of your kills than survival. Dispatching foes in a creative fashion may be recognized as a Skillshot. The rarer and more creative the Skillshot, the more points are awarded. These points can be traded for enhancements that often improve your ability to perform increasingly impressive Skillshots, and the cycle continues.

You unlock a number of weapons as the game progresses, but shooting is often less effective than kicking or yanking (with boots or a wrist-mounted leash, respectively), both of which create a temporary anti-gravity field that immobilizes your victim in the air for a short time.

The game might sound grim, but it's fully immersed in Duke Nukem-esque tongue-in-cheek flair and gruesome (but cartoony) violence. Your avatar is a tough mercenary named Grayson Hunt, whose dialogue could easily be read by Ash from Army Of Darkness. The language is vulgar and deserves the Mature rating, but if you’re in the mood for juvenile potty humor, it’ll steal a smirk from you once in a while. Just don’t expect anything in the way of puzzles or intellectual progression. The game is on obvious rails. There is no jump button, and you can’t fall off cliffs even if you try. Your biggest hurdle will be to figure out the next thing you’re supposed to shoot at.

A game that revels in juvenile laughs and nonstop action can be a guilty pleasure, but this particular approach also leads to annoying situations. For instance, if you’re too involved with a specific enemy you might not notice the prompt telling you to move on to another vital target, and if you’re a bit slow on the uptake, the game rewards you with a quick, scripted death sequence. The Dragon’s Lair-style, do-the-right-thing-immediately-or-die mechanism doesn’t appeal to me, but some people might appreciate the way it breaks up the missions.

Other than that, I don’t have a lot to complain about. If you crave an entertaining diversion with breakneck action, crude jokes, cartoon gore, and some very nice visuals, I’m not sure you’ll find anything that fits the bill better than Bulletstorm.

Now that you’re a little more familiar with the game, let’s take a closer look at the engine behind it and check out its performance.

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    Top Comments
  • yyrkoon
    JohnnyLuckyThe next time how about installing a game on a solid state drive and a hard disk drive so we can find out about any differences in game play.


    Where have you been for the last decade? It would only effect level loading.
    15
  • Other Comments
  • JohnnyLucky
    The next time how about installing a game on a solid state drive and a hard disk drive so we can find out about any differences in game play.
    -12
  • shubham1401
    mayankleoboy1i enjoy the game and i am not embarrassed to admit it on my 3.33ghz core 2 duo and gtx580, it stutters a lot during some areas and level loading. even a slight CPU use by another processes make this game unplayable.


    Didn't happen with me. I have a 2.66Ghz C2D and 9800GT. And I played the whole game with ~45Fps at 1600X900 medium settings.
    :)
    -6
  • yyrkoon
    JohnnyLuckyThe next time how about installing a game on a solid state drive and a hard disk drive so we can find out about any differences in game play.


    Where have you been for the last decade? It would only effect level loading.
    15
  • haplo602
    why are the pictures and descriptions on the cards backwards ? I mean firs the image than the description ? since we are scrolling DOWN normaly, it's the wrong way around.
    -7
  • Maziar
    Thanks for the review :)
    The good thing about Unreal engine is that the PC game powered by it are almost always optimized and that's what's lacking in most of todays' PC games.
    0
  • kevith
    Why this commercial disguised as an article?
    -11
  • hannibal
    The thing that "Epic is serious about multithreading" is good thing to see! We have had so long time 4 to 6 core CPUs, that it has been a shame that those cores had not been supported in games so far. This is very promising indeed!
    5
  • nevertell
    You definitely have to do these more often.
    5
  • Formata
    I love this sort of article. Would be nice to see that same sort of comparison done with Witcher 2
    6
  • joshyboy82
    I had no interest in buying this game, but I read the review to see if it my change my mind. Sadly it won't. I already am into too many games and I just can't seem to beat CS:S, so when I've run out of Witcher sequels and Portals, I'll only have Battlefields and Diablos to conquer, before I become a full time farmer (as a in-game career) in Skyrim. Sorry about your luck.
    -1
  • iam2thecrowe
    shubham1401Didn't happen with me. I have a 2.66Ghz C2D and 9800GT. And I played the whole game with ~45Fps at 1600X900 medium settings.

    i think the key there is "medium settings". Draw distance, objects on screen and physics detail have a fair impact on the CPU performance.
    1
  • dimitri
    mayankleoboy1i enjoy the game and i am not embarrassed to admit it on my 3.33ghz core 2 duo and gtx580, it stutters a lot during some areas and level loading. even a slight CPU use by another processes make this game unplayable.

    I had exactly the same problem; You need to edit some configuration file and set bSmoothFrameRate and bEnableMouseSmoothing to "false.". You can find more specific instructions online.
    1
  • scook9
    Needs all the CPU power it can get and minimal graphics.....another successful console port!

    I say that, but I have generally really enjoyed all the UE3 games I have played so far and play UT3 more than anything else online haha
    2
  • tommysch
    mayankleoboy1i enjoy the game and i am not embarrassed to admit it on my 3.33ghz core 2 duo and gtx580, it stutters a lot during some areas and level loading. even a slight CPU use by another processes make this game unplayable.


    Your GPU must be so badly choked... I had a Q6600 and it wasnt enough to run a GTX 470 at full speed. Do you have a GPU monitor to see the core % usage? It is probably stuck under 80% if not lower.
    -3
  • tommysch
    You cant disable V sync in that shitty game or what?
    -7
  • Anonymous
    Kevith's right - it sits somewhere between an ad for MSI and an ad for Bulletstorm. Journalism at its (less then) finest.
    -6
  • rootheday
    how about trying the game on Intel HD 3000 for comparison with the low end cards?
    -1
  • Onus
    Here's a FPS I might actually enjoy; it looks not all that difficult, and should run maxed on my primary system.

    Question about CPU performance: How does a hyperthreaded dual core (e.g. an i5/650) compare to a true quad?
    4
  • gokanis
    Works fine on my Q6600 and MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II OC. I did notice a rare stutter every now and again but it wasn't enough that it bothered gameplay.

    I may go back and see what settings I had and try an experiment or two, I know I had at least 1680x1050 and I always set everything to high, not sure if I had 4xAA on or not, most likely did.

    The stutters were probably because I was crunching WCG cancer units in the background. The CPU is OC'd to 3GHz. I did like the game, it made me laugh pretty hard at times. The creative kills is what made me finish the game to the end.
    0
  • clonazepam
    I wish I had it to test on my q6600 and 570. I didn't care much for the demo so that influenced my choice not to purchase.

    Does that 1680x1050 (most common resolution) glitch and encrypted config files a part of anti-piracy attempts that hurt everyone?

    I wish I had purchased the MSI 570 instead of the PNY card, but I had to get what I got on BB credit =/
    0