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Simon Bull, content editor
Monday, October 10, 2011
Bodycount is a first-person shooter which pleases in places but ultimately fails to delivers the goods.
Over the past few years Codemasters has become the king of driving games, with titles such as DiRT, F1 and Race Driver: GRID.
With seemingly everyone churning out FPS games these days, it’s perhaps not surprising the Codies were tempted to briefly swap racing action for warefare in-between wowing with their four-wheeled treats.
The mission cannot be described as a great success and Bodycount becomes just another mediocre title in a vastly overstuffed genre.
The fatal mistake made by Bodycount is coming out of cover when the gunfire of Call of Duty: Black Ops, Killzone 3 and Crysis 2 has barely died down.
To stand out as officer material in such an illustrious crowd, it would need to be a remarkable game.
While it is certainly better than some, such as the bland Socom: Special Forces and the generally dismal Duke Nukem Forever, Bodycount is no competition to the best shooters out there.
It does contain some enjoyable moments, but remarkable it is not. In most keys areas, such as visuals and plot, it’s a couple of levels below the leaders in its field.
With Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 coming soon to swell the FPS category even more, Bodycount is likely to drop further down the rankings.
In Bodycount you play as a lone soldier, or an asset, fighting on behalf of an organisation known only as the Network. For some unexplained reason you’re sent alone into war zones in Africa, China and such like which the UN and governments either can’t or won’t deal with. Your job is to take down enemies known only as The Target.
If you think this set-up sounds generic and shallow, that’s because it is.
If you’re someone who needs strong character development and an engaging story to be able to enjoy a game, you’re set for a disappointment because Bodycount has neither.
Here the emphasis is firmly on action, and by action I mean over-the-top arcade-style shoot-outs - none of that gritty stuff you might find in other shooters that try and portray the real horrors of war.
Bodycount is all about grabbing a gun and letting rip, with little to no strategy, tactics or stealth anywhere in the game.
The focus is on all-out combat, the game revelling in mayhem, carnage and gratuitous killing of anything which gets in your way.
There is nothing subtle about the gunplay. In the absence of a proper cover system you can stand behind objects for limited protection, tilting left or right in a slightly odd and fiddly fashion in order to get your shots off.
The game encourages aggressive play, willing you on to be bold and indiscriminate with your firing. Run-n-gun types are in luck here.
Developer: Guildford Studio
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC (PS3 reviewed)
Verdict: 5 out of 10 – Wants to come across as a stylish modern shooter but comes across as a confused mess. Does have some fun action moments though.
It rewards such a do-or-die attitude by making most of the scenery in the game destructible.
The ‘shreddable’ environments disintegrate as bullets fly. Doors, walls and objects around the game world are expendable, leading to explosions and chaos aplenty.
There is virtually nowhere to hide. If an enemy appears to be trying to use something as a shield, you can get to him by blasting it to pieces. Obviously it works both ways, though.
There is a certain thrill and satisfaction from all this. Bodycount has some of the most intense, fast-paced and fierce fire-fights I’ve seen in a FPS.
The downside here is that Bodycount can at times get carried away, with too much going on at once. It can cause a sensory overload, and I’ve found myself firing furiously and randomly to quell the onslaught of enemies. It does at least live up to its promise of providing outrageous action.
Another negative of the game is the point scoring system, which is - well - pointless. It rewards skill kills such as carefully executed head shots but such is the chaotic nature of the game that these are hard to achieve.
When you’re spraying bullets around for survival against waves of attackers, thinking about the best way to take them down and chain kills together for maximum points doesn’t really come into it.
Bodycount is a confused game which doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind whether it wants players to go slow and deliberate or fast and furious.
Lack of freedom is another issue. It would be great if the game allowed you to be really creative and evil with your kills, along the lines of Just Cause 3, but it doesn’t. The big bangs hide the fact that there is very little variety in how you notch up those kills.
There are other areas where Bodycount is a let-down.
For example, the graphics are unrefined, unpolished and generally low-grade by PS3 standards - the game looking more like something from PS2 days.
Some of the explosions and destruction of the scenery are quite satisfying but these are about the only visual flair in the game. Bodycount does not have the same quality of lighting, texturing or attention to detail seen in other recent shooters.
Controls are adequate for the action served up by Bodycount but weapons lack the necessary punch for the most part, feeling too weak and ineffective. Downing one of the drone-like enemies which come your way can take several shots. Guns feel a little feeble and I’ve found myself lobbing grenades around for some much-needed impact. A small palette of special abilities does not really improve things.
Dumb as the enemies appear for the most part (aside from the powerful bosses), you’ll still probably find yourself frequently encountering death. Telling where fire is coming from is half the battle, the other half is the sheer amount of fire you’ll come under and it is hard to avoid it all. Luckily there are generous checkpoints and you’ll know what to expect on the next attempt thanks to the linear structure of the game
Bodycount’s single-player campaign can be clocked in about six hours. Yes, this is short but it’s not surprising given how developers and publishers are rarely capable or willing to make shooters last more than the length of a couple of movies these days.
What is more of a surprise is how the multiplayer options are very limited, with only the unimaginative selection of competitive deathmatches and two-player survival mode available.
Overall then Bodycount is a bit of a mess. It has some good ideas in it and some fun passages of play but these are marred by there being too many bad things in the game.
Ultimately it lacks direction and as a result it lacks purpose for existing. In most genres, being ‘just another game’ might be acceptable but in the shooter genre where the bar is constantly being raised higher and higher, there really is no point to a game which doesn’t have what it takes to be part of the elite team.