Bodycount

Missed opportunity.

By Daavpuke, Posted 12 Sep 2011

Let’s drop right in here, don’t bother with knowing what the hell is going on; Bodycount doesn’t either. There’s this agency called The Network, which sends operatives to the deepest hellholes of the third world to clean up shop. Need more info? Let’s go to West Africa and stop a war between 2 factions, whom both hate Network guys. Oh, let’s also shove in a futuristic army of unknowns with prior history to The Network. Luckily, a trusted unknown voice serves as guidance towards objectives. No wait, she’s gone now. Well, let’s rid the world of everything on a whim anyway. In a nutshell, this is the premise and entire campaign story of Bodycount.

NoobFeed Review - Bodycount
So you think you can dance?

This first person shooter does not like explaining itself ever, so the non-descriptive protagonist is just some merc that likes killing, no motive needed. In the 6 to 8 hour campaign dropping players in Africa, China and some cyber-compounds, there is little reason to get engrossed with anything going on. Any objective, whether it is thwarting warlords or stopping a legion of robots, never gets situated properly, making the entire subpar B-movie feel detached.

The surface levels, while still as monochrome as most shooters, do offer a nice display of colors. Shanty towns patched together from scrap look exactly like the eclectic mess they are and the Chinese towns are bustling with lights and signs of all colors and shapes. It’s a bit of a shame that the Chinese act is minimal and the towns are drowned in a purple haze, but the lighting of this game makes up some grief. Additionally, the level design of these towns feel genuine, with tons of buildings, alleyways and stories, opening the world up to many approaches. Unfortunately, the compound levels don’t follow suit and revert to boring, clinical hallways and rooms. Some locations also repeat themselves, which is a good thing above ground, but a bad thing below.

NoobFeed Review - Bodycount
Michael Bay approves of this approach.

Another mixed bag in Bodycount, is how gameplay on one hand tries something new, but doesn’t always get the right idea. Naturally, there will be shooting and throwing grenades, but sadly with mostly generic weaponry. This game also uses destructive environments though. Combined with the open world mechanic, blasting through walls can add even more variety, at least above ground. Universally, Bodycount implements everything well for the top levels and then restricts itself below, lest it be repeated.

Additionally, killing enemies yields small circular icons containing either ammo or Intel. This Intel is mainly used as a way to fill the OSB bar, which is a device that grants specials. As missions progress more options get added to the OSB, ultimately unlocking 4 things, with an upgrade later on. Adrenaline shields and enhances, Explosive bullets do more damage, a radar points out targets and lastly a full bar can call in a freaking airstrike. Naturally, there are no planes in basements, but the radar upgrade will offer an alternative circle of death when in robot country. Some of these specials can come in handy, but rarely during the campaign do they feel vital, making it more of a gimmick.

NoobFeed Review - Bodycount
Regenerative health and tons of crap can make obstructing screenshots.

This leads us to skill shots, which reward players for offing foes with headshots, explosives, backstabs and the likes. Straight up borrowed from Bulletstorm and then watered down, there is little incentive to strive for skilled perfection with the lackluster variety included. Sure, it grants a better mission score, but just being good at killing folks is already plenty. The game doesn’t push the mechanic properly, making yet another gimmick.

Luckily, all these haphazard implementations don’t ruin the game as every one mixes some bad with some good. Unfortunately, this also gets applied to the control scheme, which feels awkward and takes a lot of getting used to. In particular, the lean mechanic, also used for cover and aiming is a large obstacle to overcome and will exacerbate many situations. In addition, response time on several things, but especially reloading, seems to get stuck often. Even when motionless, following one button with another might mean a lockdown on reloads for as many as 2 full seconds. It might not sound long, but in crossfire this means certain death. Especially since the enemies are very adaptive to situations and seek out cover or surround and outmaneuver, which is a good thing, it can get tricky to survive certain situations. Additionally, the game will use spawn points with absolute force; dropping players back straight in front of soldiers if applicable.

NoobFeed Review - Bodycount
More blue destruction than a Gargamel Smurfs party.

Following the lackluster campaign, players can choose to redo missions in Bodycount mode, to topple friend scores or get higher ratings, but only the hardcore will be enticed to do so. Naturally, there is also an online component, but this is sadly the worst part of Bodycount, where it should’ve been the savior element. The most barebones rendition of online play offers Deathmatch alone or in teams and Co-op play, which is nothing more than surviving bot waves with a friend. Add to that a minimal lobby and only 4 small maps and it’s hard to see anyone wasting their time, other than to prove a point.

It’s a dying shame that Bodycount tries to be a pretty game, but fails on every aspect of it, by either not going far enough or blocking its own path. With a few highs, but many manic lows, it’s as if the game was only halfway through its conception when developers starting racking the pieces together. A disappointing campaign with more holes than the destructible environment gets backed up by a vexing multiplayer option, resulting in a mediocre end product. Players in need of shooting will still find good times in this game, but it certainly isn’t winning any awards other than the missed opportunity one.

Gallery

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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  • When I first saw the trailer I thought it would be a good game but now it looks rather opposite.


    Posted Sep 16, 2011

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General Information

Bodycount

61/100

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher(s): Codemasters
Developer(s): Guildford Studio
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2011-08-30

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