Reviews// Bodycount

Posted 1 Sep 2011 17:02 by
Games: Bodycount
It took a little while for me to know what to make of Bodycount. I came to it cold, aware of a general buzz around it but none of the specifics beyond 'first-person shooter from the brain of Stuart Black'. I didn't even get a box with some blurb on. That's not a lot to go on, especially seeing as Black left the project.

Coming at it with no preconceptions, I spent a bit too long trying to figure out how you're meant to play it. In retrospect, that probably says more about the rest of the games industry's output than it does about Bodycount. It may also, however, say something about whether Bodycount has anything distinctive to offer. Still, for better or for worse, you're thrown into the game with little hand-holding and little idea what the reason for its existence is.

I mean, why does Codemasters expect us to buy Bodycount over any of the bajillion or so other shooters littering your local retailer's shelves? Honestly, it's still not all that clear.

You're an agent for an organisation called 'The Network' in the near future, trying to combat a shadowy group that appears to be behind numerous outbreaks of violence across the planet. As plot goes, it's fairly throwaway stuff. Codies barely even bothers to illustrate it with cutscenes. This does, however, mean that the environments you shoot your way across alternate between 'realistic' areas and clinical high tech facilities.

The action takes an arcade-y direction. Scores of enemies are thrown at you and speed takes precedence over accuracy. It's all about shooting fast and making things explode. That's not a bad place to start, right?

But it certainly doesn't give you anything to set Bodycount apart from any number of other shooters, either.

One of the very few things the game draws your attention to is the destructibility of the landscape. It is pretty destructible, I'll give Codies that. If it's not made of metal, there's a good chance you can shoot holes in it. That also means that your enemies can shoot holes in it, so you need to be careful about where you take cover.

The cover system bucks the trend led by the likes of Gears of War of having a cover button that sticks you to the nearest spot of shelter. Instead, you just have to crouch, then push the left trigger right down and use the left stick to lean out. It's certainly different to the rest of the crop, so points to Codemasters for that, I guess. It's also more realistic than a sticky cover system. The problem is, realistic isn't necessarily better, especially in a game with an arcade ethic. Frankly, its a little fiddly and makes shooting from cover a bit of a pain in the arse.

The levels are substantial spaces that enable you to take any number of routes to your mission goal. This is the greatest strength of Bodycount. It took me a little while to figure it out, but unlike more linear shooters Bodycount is designed to enable (and encourage) you to shoot your own path to glory. You might need to take a number of different runs at an objective to find one that suits you, and you might need to change strategies while you're at it. In some instances your best bet might be to run and gun and throw as many grenades about as possible, while in others you might need to carefully mine points of entry for enemies and lurk stealthily behind cover.
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Games: Bodycount

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