Bodycount carries itself as arcade-styled FPS that generically pits you against an enemy known only as ‘the Target’ in two major areas: a fictional country in West Africa and a city on the Chinese coast. Apparently, ‘the Target’ is supporting conflict throughout the world for some unknown reason and as a part of ‘the Network’, you are guided to stop them by a mysterious voice.
I never got the sense that the world is really in danger. After touring through Africa’s levels, I went on to China (or “East Asia”), and after mixing it up there, that’s all that there was shoot at. Anyone with any shooting skill can finish the campaign in less than four or five hours on normal difficulty.
The same moronic enemies will either stand around or charge heedlessly at you for most of the game. You can shoot through a lot of things, like wooden barricades, and can eventually select what weapons you can use through drop sites – you can’t pick up weapons from enemy troopers. Occasionally it throws a bigger ‘boss’ baddie into the mix, but he’s only a larger, beefier trooper with a bigger gun. There’s only one real boss in the game and that’s only at the very end. And it’s not that tough to beat.
The maps for the main campaign are relatively open allowing you to explore them but there’s no real reason to do so other than in finding more bad guys to kill. There are no extras to reveal, no secret areas to uncover – just a jumble of side streets, alleyways, and buildings to hunt enemies down as Pac Man with a gun. If you wanted to, you could try and run to the next objective point and ignore having to kill everyone – or anyone – if you really just want to get through certain stages.
Downed enemies drop glowing icons for ammunition and grenades along with ‘intel’ which are eventually pulled in by your own personal gravity when you come close enough. ‘Skill kills’, such as headshots, reward more ‘intel’ and chaining successive hits results in bigger bonuses which can also go towards your end-of-stage rank.
The ‘intel’ is also fuel for your Operative Support Button gauge which, over the course of the game, allows you to do things such as temporarily become indestructible or call in an air strike. It’s a decent system, though visually, the icons just look bizarre against the backdrop of semi-realistic warehouses, slums, and neighborhoods.
The graphics aren’t much to look at being an ugly mix of browns, greys, and jagged edges with the only exceptions being the guns themselves and the Target bunkers which are crammed with explosive panels and computers. The idea that they take place in different locales around the world is wasted, though, since they’re just there to act as bins for shallow enemies and the numbingly basic gameplay. After games such as Modern Warfare, F.E.A.R., and Borderlands, today’s FPS audience is looking for a bit more out of their experience and Bodycount’s shooting range is just that – a shooting range.
Shooting enemies through destructible cover is always a plus – yet for everything that Bodycount delivers to the table, many other games have done better even when it comes to the basics. For instance, there’s no explanation for why aiming down your sights doesn’t actually aim down through the iron sights on your current weapon (it just zooms in slightly), or why doing that plants you in one spot to dodge bullets from the waist up. It does allow you to lean around cover, yet sacrifices what most every other FPS shooter allows you to do by keeping you on the move. If the idea was to make it harder for the player to aim down their weapon (or at least pretend to), this wasn’t the best of solutions.
And that’s just it. There’s really nothing here, other than one or two levels where you could almost practice stealth, to set it apart other than for how boring the actual gameplay feels.
Then there’s the basically broken multiplayer, not that it would have been much fun given that there is only deathmatch, team deathmatch, and co-op to look forward to. I’m not even sure if there’s a ranking system online, or if it was something of an improvement over the single player, because I couldn’t even get into a game.
Every time I tried to get into one, and everyone would ready up, it simply wouldn’t start. We would just sit there and wait until people decided to leave, search for another game, and then come right back to the same game they left. It wasn’t hard to remember who they were given how there aren’t a whole lot of people out there to actually play with. Most just gave up and left entirely, presumably to play something else that had working multiplayer. I did after trying for half an hour one evening just trying to get into a game. In another session, I had waited so long for one to start that my 360 fell asleep.
So if you’re into simply running around and shooting things for no reason other than to exercise your trigger finger, Bodycount is for you. You can even replay all seventeen missions after finishing the single-player campaign in ‘Bodycount’ mode to improve your score, not that it will do anything other than update your statistics. For a game that asks for $60 of your hard earned money for so very little right at the start of the holiday games rush, it’s hard not to think about saving it for a title that is far more deserving.
Codemasters / Guildford Studio
Xbox 360 / PS3 (reviewed on Xbox 360)
Rated: M for Mature