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Guns 'n' Stories: Bulletproof VR

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: MiroWin Studio
Release Date: Dec. 11, 2018


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PS4 VR Review - 'Guns 'n' Stories: Bulletproof VR'

by Cody Medellin on June 3, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Guns 'n' Stories: Bulletproof is a dynamic VR western shooter that fully immerses players into the ambiance of a weird Wild West.

There's nothing wrong with having a VR shooting gallery game. After all, the concept of pointing and shooting at things is easy enough for anyone to grasp, and even though VR has been around for a few years, this kind of game can still be exciting enough for those who have yet to don the headset. When you come across a game like Guns 'n' Stories: Bulletproof VR, though, you have to worry. Right off the bat, the title looks like it's a mash-up of words used in action titles, and the mangling of English in the PlayStation Store's description and trailer isn't encouraging. Once you start up the game, you'll see that all your fears were proven right.

Guns 'n' Stories starts off with your character, an old gunslinger, sleeping in his rocking chair when he's awoken by his grandson. The child, who found your old revolver hidden away somewhere, wants you to tell him where you got it from. After a little convincing, you tell him the long, sordid tale of how you defeated a gang of bandits to rescue the love of your life, Charlotte.

The story is fine, but you're not going to care much for the characters. The grandfather cracks jokes that have no real punchline, and your grandson is annoying and spouts lines that no child would ever say. The only saving grace is that your character can't keep his story straight, resulting in some oddities in the story, like characters riding Segways and structures suddenly growing in size in the middle of a fight.

As alluded to earlier, this is a shooting gallery in VR. After choosing one of nine different campaign levels or six bonus levels, you're placed in a typical Western backdrop, such as an enemy encampment, a fort, or a classic small town. From here, enemies start to file in from all sides. Thanks to the protagonist's wild imagination, the enemies range from masked men, dynamite throwers, and flying drones. You start each level firmly rooted in place, and while you can't duck or dodge incoming bullets, you can shoot them out of the sky or swat away incoming projectiles with your gun. You start with a pair of revolvers that have unlimited ammo and need no reloading, but depending on how the story goes, that is quickly replaced with more outrageous fare, like Tommy guns, Tesla guns, grenade launchers and even a shotgun that can transform into a railgun. No matter which gun you have or which level you're in, your main objective is to rid the stage of all enemies or drain the boss of his energy.

The basic blueprint and outrageous guns make Guns 'n' Stories sound like some mindless fun, especially with VR being a fresh take on a game type we don't see often. Unfortunately, the game seems to do everything in its power to drain the fun from the experience. For starters, just about every enemy can absorb way too many bullets before going down. Unless you can score some headshots, it can take upwards of two barrels of bullets to take down an enemy without armor — and even more if they're wearing a helmet. The bullet sponge nature of each foe makes the guns worthless, as only the explosive weapons seem capable of taking down foes with one hit. Gun accuracy is another thing you have to fight, as the game often loses the location of your hands, placing the guns in awkward on-screen positions until you snap your head back to the front of the screen to recalibrate.

Guns 'n' Stories also makes the mistake of placing too many enemies on opposite sides and failing to provide an indication that you've been hit. You'll often face your extreme right just as enemies are approaching your extreme left. You won't realize this is occurring until your screen goes red and you start looking around to see who's shooting. On higher difficulty levels, where enemies are even sturdier and you're more susceptible to dying from lead, the lack of indicators and the enemy flow feel cheap.

Perhaps the biggest sin committed by the game is that the levels are way too long. Every level has a percentage counter visible, so you know how far you are from completing the level, but that counter goes up very, very slowly. By the time you finish a stage, you'll have killed 100-200 enemies. That sounds on par with other light gun shooters, but those had the benefit of you constantly shifting around an environment to keep things fresh. Here, standing in one spot to kill everyone soon grows tiresome, so the longer levels are a detriment rather than a benefit.

With the gameplay issues, including some terrible translations in the menus and the same hint screens clogging up each stage, the presentation fares only a little better. Graphically, there are some decent lighting effects, and the environments are good enough. The character models are stylized to be a bit exaggerated in terms of lanky characters versus bulky ones, but their animations activate the ragdoll effect way too early. Shoot one of them in the body, and you'll notice their arms wind up wildly while they're still running at you. At least the weapons sport a tremendous amount of detail, despite things like the revolver bullet chamber not moving when you pull the trigger. Sound-wise, the music is fine if you can stand the faster country twang expected from a Western in an arcade setting. The sound effects are harsh, and the voices fail to be endearing, whether you're talking about the deranged grandpa or his grandson.

Guns 'n' Stories: Bulletproof VR is a disappointment. The guns feel worthless due to the "bullet sponge" nature of even the most common enemies. The game does a poor job of letting you know where enemies are, and getting through stages is difficult due to the fact that the game doles out foes in all directions at the same time without any indicators. The levels are also long enough that you'll grow tired of the shooting if you don't have an automatic weapon. Even with a decent but uninspiring presentation, there's not much reason to give this a look when other, better implemented VR shooting galleries exist on the platform.

Score: 4.0/10

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