Bodycount takes players into the shady world of corporate militaries and third world country civil wars, with an eye for skill shots and creative gun play.
- Decent presentation
- Solid feel to weapons
- Some expansive levels
- A short game that reuses levels
- Uninspired level design
- No personality
- Annoying cover system
There are some games that give off an eerie sense of simply being unfinished. Bodycount seems like it had, at one point, aspirations of greatness. There are some interesting elements that suggest a more expansive design which, for whatever reason, was left to the wayside by the time the game shipped. The end result is a full-priced shooter that feels very much like a budget development.
Let the Bodies Hit the Floor
That’s a shame, because Bodycount certainly had potential at one point. The game’s development was originally led by Stuart Black, who astute gamers will recall was the rather verbose fellow behind the modestly-named last-gen shooter, Black. Sadly, Bodycount isn’t a next-gen continuation of Black, which was a surprisingly intense, if mostly shallow shooter.
Bodycount is definitely shallow and some of the firefights are intense, but the limited levels feel more like bot matches thrown together with a threadbare story. Players take the role of, well, some guy. He’s an operative of the Network—a private security force that patrols the world trying to prevent outbreaks of war… by indiscriminately killing lots of people.
As it turns out, the Network is trying to track down “the Target”, who likes to incite war… by killing lots of people and building outrageously improbable bases that look like leftover sets from Halo. If all this sounds bland and generic, that’s because it is. The player’s character has no name, voice, or personality. He’s thrown into war zones with only a computer voice and faceless female intel agent to push objectives at him.
Skills Shots! Now With No Skill Needed!
Worse, the levels—which take place in Africa and East Asia—are recycled constantly. You’ll go through one African dump three times, with the only variation being your spawning point and that another, mostly identical section is now open. In Africa, the government army is fighting rebel fighters, which adds a nice sense that the conflict already exists, but the player is just there to kill everyone. Any time it hints that you might meet someone for intel, it’s always just to kill them, and the action is utterly mindless.
Bodycount touts the concept of skill shots, which immediately brings to mind the outrageously creative and hilarious gameplay of Bulletstorm. Unfortunately, these are mostly limited to head shots, head shots through cover (or from behind), and killing multiple enemies with a single explosive. There’s no fanfare or excitement placed in such precision targeting, and little reason to do anything but plow through the absurdly stupid AI.
The AI has one advantage—numbers. At times the game attempts to compensate for its lack of intelligence by mobbing the player with thugs, which is frustrating and annoying. The levels tend to be decently large, but there’s never any reason to explore. There are no side missions or secret things to find at all. The interface shows you where your next objective is and you just run there. Buildings and side passages are just cover, nothing more, giving the maps and the action a distinctly lifeless, by-the-numbers feel.
Duck and Cover
For a game named Bodycount, the violence is incredibly tame. There’s not much blood, bodies certainly don’t fly apart, and the body physics are reserved. The operative must rely on weapon drops in the level to switch guns and can’t pick up enemy weapons. Ammo is plentiful when mowing down bad guys, but the weapons themselves are all remarkably standard. Machine guns, assault rifles, pistols, grenades, mines… Nothing new here.
Bodycount isn’t bad looking and has nicely powerful audio at least. The multiplayer is straight-up free-for-all and team deathmatching for up to 12 players, which is, much like the single player game, very uninspired. Most of the controls work as expected, but the cover mechanic is downright bizarre. Holding the left shoulder button activates the zoomed-in aiming mode and locks the operative into cover mode. If the agent is actually behind cover, this works ok, allowing him to lean left and right to quickly tag an enemy and return to cover. Unfortunately, the operative behaves the same way even if he’s out in the open, so fine aiming completely kills your ability to actually move.
Schedule the Funeral
Incredibly uninspired is really the best way to describe Bodycount. A set-up for a cool shooter is in here somewhere, but drowned out by the mediocrity of the actual execution. Bodycount is playable and the gunplay can be mildly fun, but with so many AAA shooters just on the horizon, this game is doomed to be buried in the bargain bin in no time.