Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
1 player campaign
2-12 players online
2 player co-op
HDTV support up to 1080p
Intense arcade firefights
A plain box with just a myriad of guns and the title Bodycount should have been my first clue as to what to expect. The second clue should have been the lack of any sort of description of what Bodycount is about on the back of the box as well as in the instruction manual. Codemasters’ most recent game, which has THQ’s corporate logo on the game box as well, has recently hit store shelves. The game really doesn’t make any claims to be anything but what the title says. As we approach the end of summer, does this recipe work or is Bodycount just another generic shooter?
Bodycount’s graphics are mediocre at best. The game performs well enough in terms of having a smooth framerate, but everything is decidedly average. Textures are bland and lack detail and the game does not do anything in the visual department particularly well. For a game that is all about shooting, the explosions and particle effects are far too thin looking and nothing really lingers around long enough after the fact to make the you say “wow”. Things just blow up and the after effects seem to disappear too quickly and that is somewhat disappointing! If I’m going to play a game that’s about nothing more than shooting stuff I want some destruction that lasts!!
The sound in Bodycount doesn’t fare much better than the graphics. The high point is probably the game’s soundtrack, which I didn’t find all that bad, if not a bit catchy. There’s a very oddly placed, Las Vegas themed sound when your ammo runs low. It’s a little out of place, but I didn’t mind it and thought it worth commenting about. With the amount of “intel” that you pick up after killing bad guys, this sort of sound would be better suited for something like that since I felt like I was play a slot machine. Unfortunately the rest of the game’s sounds fall short. In a game that’s all about shooting big guns, I would have hoped that the weapons would sound more impactful and carry some oomph, unfortunately all the guns all come up short here. That’s a real shame because it would have added some real bearing to the gameplay. Make things go boom better!!
As I played through the game I found that there was too much looped sound, especially with ambient voices coming from the environment. I understand that the dev-team is trying to create the sense of a war going on all around you, but I would keep hearing very loud voices I thought were coming after me only to realize it was simply part of this background sound. I guess that’s a point in favour of Bodycount’s use of surround sound, but it is also a knock against the overall execution in the audio area as a whole.
Created by the same team that developed the first person shooter Black during the Xbox and PS2 era of consoles, and perhaps trying to capitalize on the slow summer release season, Bodycount is exactly what you think it might be: a game about shooting absolutely everything in sight. There’s just enough narrative to pass for a plot but there is nothing ground breaking here. Come to think of it, as a whole, don’t expect anything at all as Bodycount is as generic as they come.
You play as an agent of the Network working to take down someone/something named the Target. Yes, it’s that generic. Creative this development team is not. The game moves at a pretty fast pace though, faster than Call of Duty but slower than the real twitchy shooters out there like Unreal. Fans of more tactical games need not apply here. Fortunately, the controls keep up to this pace for the most part. Aiming is relatively smooth and pretty precise. Things take a downward turn when aiming down the sights though. You often can’t move your aim as fast as enemies move, especially if you are at close to medium range. This can be frustrating, but I quickly learned that I really didn’t need to aim down the sights all that much. Why? There’s almost no recoil in this game at all so there’s often really no need to physically aim down the sight. I found that even when bad guys are at a distance you can simply aim the reticle over them, do the old spray and pray, and more often than not they’ll go down quickly.
Bodycount employs an interesting take on taking cover. It works through the L trigger. You don’t really attach to cover where it completely fixes your feet (read: you can’t move). Instead, you just lean with the one thumbstick while aiming with the other. So, if you’re crouched you can peek up and over the cover. If you simply run up to a box and press the L trigger, you can pull down to squat and take the cover. Same with left and right for corners. Overall the cover system works fine, but takes some getting used to. I also wanted to comment about moving while aiming down the gun sight. To do this you only pull the L trigger halfway down. If you’re a heavy handed gamer like myself, this is completely useless. I simply don’t have the finesse, or the patience to learn the finesse, to use this option at all. Just because it is a different take on aiming and cover doesn’t mean it’s a good one.
While you’re tasked with killing everything in sight in Bodycount you get extra points and combos for “skill” kills. These usually involve things like headshots, killing multiple enemies with a grenade, or killing bad guys with things like the old red exploding barrel. This offers some mild variety to the gameplay but it felt more opportunistic than a true gameplay element that you’re focused on achieving while playing. There doesn’t appear to be much penalty for not going after skill kills either.
After each level you are awarded a letter grade which appears to be based on how long it took you to complete the level, how many kills you got, how many skill kills and combos you achieved, and probably how many times you died. You do unlock new abilities such as temporary ammo upgrades, invulnerability, and airstrikes that can be further levelled up. The levels are incredibly short though. You’ll be through this game before you know it. Is there replayability here? Yes, if you want to go back through the game and try and better your score.
Speaking of the levels themselves, they are designed to make the player feel like they are in an open, go anywhere type of environment. There are definitely multiple paths to the mission objectives, but ultimately they all funnel back together somehow. Replaying the same level after being only four missions into the game felt awfully cheap.
There’s a smattering of multiplayer options with the game supporting up to 12 players in standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch game types. There is also a cooperative mode that allows you and an online friend to play a sort of Firefight/Horde type of game. This may be something diehards are looking for, but given that the big holiday releases are just around the corner, I wonder how long the online community will play this game.
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