So far my foray’s into virtual reality gaming have been frequently amazing, from the brain teasing of Red Matter to the gunplay of Borderlands 2, a 6-year-old game reborn in VR. But Guns ‘N Stories: Bulletproof is my first negative experience, a wave-shooter that left me bored. It’s not the kind of game I can even rip apart, though, because it does most of what it sets out to do competently. So let’s review this western and see where it goes wrong.
- Review code provided free of charge by the publisher
- Platforms: PS VR, Oculus Rift, Vive
- Reviewed On: PS VR
- Developer: Mirowin
- Publisher: Mirowin
Now, I should say that wave-based shooters are not the problem. Hell, in my review of Gun Club for the PS VR I pointed out that they’re a natural fit for virtual reality. The problem is there’s a lot of them on the market so any new game needs to be pretty good in order to stand out from the crowd and Guns ‘N’ Stories: Bulletproof just isn’t.
The premise has some potential with the game kicking off as an old man regales his grandson with stories of his cowboy antics, telling him high-tales of shoot-outs and unlikely situations. I like how Guns ‘N’ Stories plays with the unreliable narrator trope by having the grandpa change details on the fly while clearly inflating the amount of bad guys he guns down. At one point the grandson calls out his grandpa for his revolvers being able to shoot so fast, so the grandpa quickly amends that he was actually holding machine guns at the time. Later on entire buildings pop up as grandpa sketches the story out at his grandson’s prompting. As stories go there isn’t much to sink your teeth into, but there”s a fun, light-hearted feel to it that works while providing a solid reason for why things are so bonkers. Historically accurate it is not.
The cutscenes never do the fun premise justice. They’re not made for VR, so each time one appears you get booted to a black void with a few cinema seats where you can watch the static cartoon drawings play out on a giant flat screen. I do like the fact that you get a bucket of popcorn to much while you watch, though.
Once you get into the gameplay Guns ‘N’ Stories: Bulletproof struggles to offer anything particularly engaging. Waves of cowboys, drones or other baddies will come charging into the level, either cowering behind cover while they take potshots or just trying to smack you in the face. At your disposal you have a small selection of weapons ranging from revolvers to two-handed machine guns capable of firing off grenades as well. Ammo is unlimited and typically you don’t even have to reload.
That’s really the issue with Guns ‘N’ Stories: Bulletproof; each level involves holding the triggers down until you win and that’s it. There’s a few twists here and there such as enemy bullets being big, white and slow so that you can shoot ’em down or even deflect them with your gun, but it becomes dull very quickly.
Each stage tends to overstay its welcome, too. Five or ten minutes may not sound like much but when it’s composed entirely of the same few enemy types running out of the same places and standing in the same spots it becomes tiresome quickly.
It doesn’t help that the weapons you get all sound weedy, like little pop guns firing off pellets rather than sounding like big machine guns that can decimate foes. Considering the cartoony style of Guns ‘N’ Stories (you even get a steampunk styled laser gun) there isn’t much in the way of inventive weapons of destruction, either. They’re all just bog-standard guns parading around in different costumes, hoping that no one will notice.
Unfortunately I did encounter a game breaking bug. The first boss battle, which involves a massive fat bloke called Joe on a segue, contained a glitch where after whittling down the first health bar Joe would suddenly become invincible and move in slow motion. His terrifying stomach would bounce as he jogged in slow motion, like some sort of giant jelly monster coming to absorb me. What is actually mean’t to happen is that Joe should fall off his segue before summoning up some drones that must be destroyed before Joe himself can be defeated.
I’ve dropped a message to the developers informing them of the issue and hopefully it will be sorted out soon. Eventually I managed to sort the problem out by deleting the game’s save data and restarting. Thankfully since it was just the first boss battle it didn’t take long to get back to where I was.
Playing through the whole campaign will take somewhere in the region of 2-3 hours. As you blast away at hapless goons a gruff narrator will yell out, “TRIPLE KILL!” and other helpful stuff and by the end of the level you’ll be given a score. It’s a fun idea but one that doesn’t make much sense since there are no online leaderboards, a truly missed opportunity.
You can replay through the various stages in Arcade mode where you can choose which weapons you want to use. There doesn’t appear to be any variation in enemy positions or even their spawn patterns, though, so replaying levels isn’t very appealing. Again, the lack of leaderboards feels like a strange design decision.
Graphically, some of the art design is rather nice but it falls apart on the technical front. The PS VR doesn’t offer the best resolution for a VR headset so fuzzy images are to be expected, but Guns ‘N’ Stories: Bulletproof seems worse than normal and there’s a lot of jagged edges. There are moments where the game looks alright, but for the most part it’s not visually appealing, at least to me.
At this point I’m struggling to find much to say. It’s a simple game. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you create something so basic in terms of gameplay that gameplay has to excel. Big, complex games can hide their rough edges or mediocre mechanics under layers of stuff. Games like Guns ‘n Stories: Bulletproof don’t have that luxury. There’s nothing to distract players from the core gameplay and how well executed it is. You have all the time in the world to think about Guns ‘N’ Stories and its shooting, and how middle-of-the-road it is.
Ultimately there isn’t anything terrible about Guns ‘N’ Stories: Bulletproof, nothing that I can point to and declare to be poorly done, as such. It simply just isn’t a very exciting game, and amidst the legions of wave shooters on the market that’s about the worst thing you can be. Unless you’re desperately looking for something to play in VR there are plenty of other games on the market worth buying.
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