Bodycount E3 2011 Hands-On Preview -- The Joys of Shooting to ThrillBy Adam Rosenberg - Posted Jun 14, 2011
In Guildford Studios’ Bodycount, being published by Codemasters, there are no soldier classes to choose from. No perks or weapon attachments. Realism in general goes flying out the window. Really, Bodycount distills first-person shooting action down to one, simple idea: mow down everything in sight with as many bullets as you can muster. It’s built as an arcade game, and it doesn’t try to be anything more or less than that.
Of course, there is a story. You are a former American soldier who has been recruited into a shadowy organization known as The Network, which takes on all of the world-saving military jobs that proper governments can’t get involved with. Early on in the game, you come to learn of another organization, The Target, aka your real enemy. The story opens in Africa, eventually moving to Asia and, finally, The Target’s super-secure headquarters. Your goal is pretty much the same in every location: pile up that body count.
Codies had the game available to play at E3 last week, with two levels pulled from the early going that give a good feel for what to expect. It’s simple, really: follow the path from checkpoint to checkpoint, gunning down anything that gets in your way. Weapons are exceedingly powerful, at least in terms of the effect they can have on the world around you. Walls, barriers, and other cover points can be ripped to pieces under sustained fire, meaning no one location is safe for long. This works in reverse too, of course; train your weapon on a wall behind which an enemy is hiding and let loose until both wall and baddie have fallen.
The first of the two demo levels involved searching a Target stronghold for intel and then escaping while under pressure from a ticking timer. The other, set in an outdoor environment, involved planting explosives on a giant crane. The simple “kill everything between each checkpoint” setup might get old after awhile, but it was entertaining enough during our 15-minute play session.
While there’s some variety in the foes you’ll encounter, the basic troop types come in two flavors. Black armored Target stormtroopers are your standard, gun-toting soldiers, while those in white armor are medics, capable of bringing anyone you’ve gunned down back to the battlefield. There are also minigun-toting heavies, which are capable of soaking up a lot of damage. Downed enemies satisfyingly explode in a multi-colored array of pickups, for ammo, health and intel (the game’s currency).
The chief gameplay quirk in Bodycount is its cover mechanic. As with most FPS games, holding down the left trigger on your controller pops your view into iron sights aiming. The quirk in Bodycount is that you can no longer move when you’re aiming down the sights. The left trigger instead controls how you’re standing or leaning. Pull the stick down to crouch behind a low-lying wall or angle it left/right/up to lean out from behind cover. It’s a little unintuitive at first, especially since it’s a break from what we’ve come to expect from “standard” FPS controls, but it was easy enough to get used to over the course of 15 minutes. Whether it helps or hinders the overall gameplay remains to be seen.
Bodycount won’t be stepping up to compete with Call of Duty or Battlefield, but that’s not really the point. The aim here is to deliver fast-paced arcade shooting action, and based on what was shown at E3, it’s firing right on target in that regard.