This time out I am going to be reviewing the newest FPS to hit shop shelves. The game in question is none other than Bodycount, the spiritual successor to last gen smash hit Black. So, with its praised past will this new outing be as strong? Or with it be just another run of the mill shooter ?
Bodycount is developed by Guildford Studios, the same team that developed Black, and it is published by Codemasters for the Xbox360 and PS3. You play as Jackson, a former American soldier who is so good at his job that he is recruited by an enigmatic organisation called “The Network”. This organisation sort out the problems of the world that the UN and others do not want to get involved in, such as conflicts in Africa and in the Middle East.
The game starts with you being dropped into a war on the coast of Africa where you soon find out that things are not as they seem and that the rebel force you are fighting is getting support for an outside source. You soon find out that these wars are being caused by some mysterious individuals and what follows is a story with more twists and turns than most Hollywood thrillers. The main game clocks in at a fairly short five to six hours to complete.
Bodycount is powered by Codemasters’ Ego engine which was last used to make Grid and Colin McRae: DiRT 3 and is more than capable of bringing Bodycount to life. But the game’s biggest trick is that it features destructive environments, and not just as a superficial add on. Unlike games in the past, like Red Faction and Battlefield: Bad Company, that have this feature, Bodycount doesn’t just let you blow up a house, it lets you use it as a key part of the gameplay, letting you shoot enemies through cover. Windows, doors and walls, all can be smashed and blasted to get at enemies hiding on the other side. A good example of this is if there is a building with enemies inside, you can shoot them from outside before entering, so you never have to go into a situation without knowing who’s there.
The game also features over 20 different types of firearms, from pistols to SMGs, to sniper rifles and everything in-between. All of them pack a punch and in the vein of Black, where the guns were the stars, this is very much the same in Bodycount because with every shot you fire and every time you reload you get a feeling that the gun is a powerhouse.
Bodycount is an FPS and as such the gameplay is standard FPS fare, with a few twists. Some of the twists are good ideas, but some are very bad ideas which let the game down big time. On paper the game looks like a mix of the classic Black crossed with Sega’s The Club in which there is a score system running through the game. In order to get the highest score, you must pull off skill shots such as head shots and grenade kills. This is all well and good, but when you have a scoring system that isn’t the most accurate you’ll get sick of losing your multiplier after landing the perfect head shot for the hundredth time. Fundamentally, not all shots are counted accurately.
Add to this the lack of real iron sights because the game chooses to go for a BF: BC2 style side view when you pull the left trigger. This makes landing the skill shoot ten times harder. Then there is the fact that you can’t run when using the iron sights mode. All you can do in iron sights is lean left and right. So if you are in the open you might as well just jump up and down and shout at the enemies.
The game does have some fun tricks up its sleeve though to ease the pain. For a start you have four abilities which give you the upper hand in a fire fight. There are Adrenaline, which buys you seconds of invincibility, Explosive Bullets, which give every round an extra strong kick, Air Strike, which does what it says on the tin, and Pulse Wave, which highlights enemies with a blue glow making them easier targets. These abilities help to lift the pace of the game.
Bodycount isn’t just a single player affair, it has two player co-op as well as online competitive multiplayer. Co-op has you and a friend filling the boots of generic Network troopers or Target troopers and fighting waves of enemies in a horde style mode in levels lifted straight from the games’ campaign. The other side of online is the standard deathmatch or Team deathmatch where you fight it out to get the most kills. The online side of the game is fun, though you will find yourself sitting in lobbies half the time waiting for a game to start, which is a real let down as you need eight players to start a game most people will leave before the lobby is full.
On paper, Bodycount should be a great game, especially with its bloodline. But the reality is not so much. It tries hard to be something it isn’t. However, if you’re looking for some mindless shooting – easy for a weekend – then yes, Bodycount is for you. If you looking for something with more meat on its bones, it’s best to look elsewhere.