Bodycount review
Counting cash


Developer: Guildford Studio
Publisher: Codemasters

Games like this annoy me. Not because they're bad, because technically, they're not broken or anything. No, the issue is just with the fact that they're so... mediocre. It's as if the developers had a shopping list of sorts and crossed each item off the list once implemented. To what extent doesn't really matter; so long as they're there, that's all they're concerned with. First person view? Check. Guns? Check. Enemies? Check. Regenerating health? Check. Underdeveloped elements? Check. Well, that's us done – now for the consumer to buy our game! Goddamn...

Bodycount begins with a civil war in Africa between two armies, and as you progress, you find out that mysterious individuals are starting wars... There's not much to it. You get told bits and pieces through the loading screen and at certain points during levels through a communicator, as to not disrupt gameplay in the middle of a level. There are a few cutscenes – more in the second half – and the story does try to include more depth than simply “kill shit”, but it simply introduces these plot points and that's about it. Suffice it to say, I was pissed. I wanted to know what the *bleep* was going on towards the end when the main boss... erm, actually, I'll keep it spoiler free.

In many ways, Bodycount is like a generic post-Modern Warfare first person shooter. The idea is to plough through gangs of enemy soldiers before they kill you. There isn't a whole lot more to it. Oh, okay, sometimes, you have to get up to some objects and press/hold square, and sometimes, you'll be required to defend something (well, not so much defend, as much as it is stay around that area and kill the onslaught of bad guys – which can get *bleep*ing frustrating as they tend to come in groups).

Most of the guns you'll get throughout the game (which, by the way, can only be accessed through machines set at the beginning of each level – no taking enemy guns) are machine guns... firing at slightly different speeds with slightly different ammo counts. You'll also have access to a shotgun (which, unfortunately, does not make them explode if you shoot them at close range), a pistol (useless... just *bleep*ing useless) and a plasma shooter whose bullets explode and manage to destroy a lot of things in a reasonably sized radius... yeah, that's what I'm talking about! But aside from those three, you're basically using different sorts of machine guns with little variations... oh, and you can use a melee attack, but it sucks. It's slow to start, and it only contacts the enemy like 50% of the time. Ugh. Just get out a gun and shoot them in the head.

Then there's the online multiplayer. That is, if you can actually get into a game... looks like hardly anybody's playing, although through careful analysis, I can see why. You'll either be killing each other (in a free for all setting or in teams), or working together to fight off waves of enemies, all of which had been featured in most other shooters from this generation, and Bodycount does nothing differently nor refreshing to make it worth playing over, say, Call Of Duty or Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

However, there are a few things that could've made the game interesting. First off is that the levels aren't all linear to the point of being on rails. Nope; these levels actually have alternate pathways to the goal. Granted that there isn't much difference between going one way over the other, it's at least a nice thought in an era full of basically on rails shooters. However, there are two issues here. One, a few of these level designs are recycled, which just screams laziness. Two, despite their size, each of the levels only last maybe 10-15 minutes. In other shooters, 20 minutes is the absolute minimum... quite sad how they turned such big levels into bite sized missions... in fact, the entire game could be completed within 4 hours. VERY short... yeah, I'm getting sick and tired of these short ass games, especially ones that leave a lot unexplained!

Another thing are the OSB powers, which assist you in your quest to kick some ass. One power allows you to take less damage from enemy bullets, one lets you put a little more bite into your bullets, one acts as a sort of pulse attack (only really useful against the final boss), and one lets you call for an air strike. More often than not, you'll find yourself only using what I tend to call the sponge power and sometimes the power that makes your bullets more “explosive”, because one doesn't do shit, and the other, although a nice thought, just never seems necessary when you could just shoot them all down. Perhaps on the hardest difficulty setting, well timed airstrikes will mean the difference between completing a mission and dying, but on others, guns tend to suffice.

Remember the skillshot system from Bulletstorm? Well, it looks like we got something similar here. Headshots, backshots and blowing them up will net you some points, which can go towards your power supply that lets you use the OSB powers. Oh, and it acts as a scoring system, so you'll be graded at the end of each level, based on how many skillkills you perform (both in the different sorts of skillkills and how many in general you can do in a row). Other than that, it doesn't do much else. Meh. Nice thought, I suppose...

But here's one fatal flaw – you'll often find yourself dying for no reason. Well, I mean, you could've been shot or blown up, but there's a rather annoying glitch where you can't hear or see them... No, I'm dead serious, INVISIBLE BULLETS YOU CANNOT HEAR CAN AND WILL KILL YOU! Oh god, what a terrible glitch!

The graphics are rather poor. The textures look like something out of a PS2 game with some muddy colors backing them up. The designs are completely uninspired. Been there, done that, yawn, NEXT! Actually, one thing I should point out is how laughably bad the enemy designs are. The Indian armies either look like Zulu warriors or escaped convicts, while the Asian army looks like a collection of delivery men. As for the army of (essentially) robots, what can I say? Nothing, to be quite honest. They look as bland and boring as everything else in this game!

As for the sound design, the music doesn't have anything that makes it stick when you shut off the game, nor does it even do anything when you're playing. The idea is that it's supposed to motivate you to kick some ass, but all it does is make me want to go to sleep, or play some music that DOES motivate some ass kicking! As for the voice acting, well, when there is some, it just sounds like it was done at the last minute, like damn near everything else in this game! What I mean is that they put in takes that sound the closest to halfway competent... and that just shouts “meh”.

Bodycount is just far too average for its own good. Aside from the OSB powers, it's really just a basic shooter with basic capabilities and basic opportunities. It does an alright job of the basics, but there's just soo much more that could've been done! Not to mention, some glitches here and there will piss you right the *bleep* off, and the production quality is very low. There is absolutely no reason to buy this game.


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