...it’s not that bad, actually...
Posted 1 year ago By - Rory Young
In today’s world of prequels and sequels, it’s hard for a new IP to crack the video gaming consciousness. Further, it’s even harder for a brand new development studio. And further still, it’s near impossible when the new IP is a first-person shooter.
Enter Guildford Studios, an outfit located in the United Kingdom. They are owned by Codemasters, the folks responsible for publishing such well-known ditties as the TOCA racing series, Overlord, and Operation Flashpoint. As one can see, they are no strangers to top-selling franchises, so there is hope that they can have some success with Bodycount. There is a pedigree attached to the birth of Guildford Studios, as part of the development team for Bodycount also developed Black, the highly-acclaimed 2006 shooter that was released for Xbox and the Playstation 2. A dream team of developers formerly of Lionhead, Criterion, Media Molecule and Black Rock came together to make Bodycount, considered Black’s spiritual successor when it was announced back in March of 2010. So, does all of this heavy-hitting talent make for a good game? It does...on paper at least...
You are Jackson, a former soldier that has been recruited to be part of a mysterious outfit called "The Network", and you are hunting an enigmatic threat only known as "Target". The Network is an American organization that resolves disputes and conflicts between the United States and other countries that the United Nations can not. The game is set in locales around the world, beginning in Africa and taking you through the streets of Asia while exploring mysterious enemy bases and compounds. Jackson soon discovers that there is more to the Target than meets the eye. As Jackson, you must blast your way through fully destructible buildings and environments using contemporary weaponry, all while searching for the truth. Bodycount offers the standard single-player campaign, lasting between eight to ten hours, depending on the level of difficulty. There is also a co-op survival or horde mode in which you pair with another player to survive twenty waves of enemies. Competitive online multiplayer consists of both deathmatch and team deathmatch modes.
So there is your overview. Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s rare that one can go into a game without any previous knowledge, be it by seeing trailers or reading previews and press releases, especially in this digital age where information on anything and everything is constantly flying at your face. But I successfully managed to avoid any publicity that had to do with this game before slipping the disc into my Xbox 360. So, with a clean slate heading in, and with no expectations, I began my Bodycount journey.
First impressions tend to set the tone for most video games. Watching the first cutscene and playing through the first level, I was dazzled by the visuals. As this generation of consoles enters the final third of their existences, it’s great to see that developers are realizing the full potential of their graphical capabilities, no matter how small the studio. Such is the case with Bodycount. The environments, from decrepit buildings and dusty roads to the surrounding greenery and distant mountain ranges, are all beautifully realized. The AI enemies look great as well, although their animation leaves a bit to be desired with their jerky movements. The only problem I had with the visuals was the occasional screen-tearing, but it was actually quite forgivable given that it didn’t happen very often.
The big selling point coming from the developers is the fact that Bodycount boasts fully destructible environments. Virtually everything can be destroyed, or as the game so lovingly puts it, "shredded". While this concept certainly isn’t new, it is a welcomed feature and in some levels, it is necessary to destroy doors, windows, and whole buildings in order to proceed.
There are multiple ways to reach your objectives in each level, and you are encouraged to explore each environ, both horizontally and vertically. Virtually every shack and house can be entered and destroyed, and in large part, without necessity. It is the prevalence of unneccessary destruction that brings the most joy, coupled with the slaughter of as many enemies as you want the game to throw at you. You can control the enemy count by simply sliding the difficulty up a notch. The higher the difficulty, the more enemies come your way.
Each level has multiple objectives, though they are presented to you in a linear fashion, and each successive objective is accompanied by a waypoint to nudge you in the right direction. Because of the objectives, the pace seems to ramp up, although you can slow down the proceedings by exploring your surroundings and doing some "collateral damage" along the way. The final destination in each level is the same, but how you get there, is up to you.
The weaponry is your standard fare, and there is a large arsenal available as you progress through the game. Though the number of weapons is not intimidating like those in a Call of Duty or a Battlefield title, they are serviceable and they get the job done. At the beginning of each level is a weapons station where you can pick load out, both primary and secondary weapon to carry through to the end. Your character is also automatically equipped with grenades. Four special "perks" (for lack of a better term) are also unlocked as you progress through the campaign: an adrenaline boost (which makes you invincible for a few seconds, and more destructive), the ability to call in an airstrike, a UAV-type enemy detector, and a bullet-enhancer. These four abilities are mapped automatically to your d-pad, and can only be used as often as you fill your perks gauge, which you can accomplish by mowing down enemies. The AI are not very challenging to get through, which makes sense, given the fact that the game IS called Bodycount, and the objective is to rack up as many kills as you possibly can. It would have been nice to see more variety in the types of enemies thrown at you. Each one seems to be the same guy, with the same gun, over...and over...and over...add nauseum.
Speaking of mowing down enemies, Bodycount rewards how you blast away the AI by giving you multipliers on the different ways that you kill them. With a huge nod to Bulletstorm, you can get separate killstreaks by performing successive headshots, shooting enemies in the back, and for grenade kills as well. These multipliers contribute to your total score at the end of each level, which comes complete with leaderboard support for you and your friends to compete on. Although, that is a bit of a double edged sword as the feature becomes moot if your friends aren’t playing it.
There isn’t anything new in Bodycount that would prompt a Call of Duty player to tear themselves away and give this game a try, although the firefights are truly amazing, with a loving nod and some obvious inspiration from the Gears of War franchise. The firefights prove to be the shining moments in this otherwise standard shooter.
Most first-person shooters worth their clout are all about the competitve multiplayer, and Bodycount does offer Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes. But in three separate tries at getting into a multiplayer match, in both deathmatch and team deathmatch, there was not another soul online available to play.
It’s obvious that Bodycount is not in enough hands, which is a shame, because as a whole, it’s not that bad of a game. The story has enough to keep your at attention and the gameplay is quite fluid, having no off-putting button combinations to get things done. As mentioned earlier, the enemy AI is quite weak, but given the objective, it’s negligible.
At the time of the game’s announcement in 2010, it was touted as being a fresh take on the first-person shooter genre, but since that time, Bulletstorm has come out and beaten them to the punch. As long as you don’t mind the DOA online community and an 8-10 hour single-player campaign, Bodycount is, at its core, still a fun FPS. It’s nice to look at and has enough enemies to keep you interested, as long as you like blastin’ fools and wreckin’ buildings. While the $60 asking price is a bit hard to swallow, it is well worth an eventual bargain bin pickup.
+ Spectacular firefights
+ Lots of enemies
- Late-to-the-party concepts
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Release Date : 2011/08/30
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Codemasters
Developer : Guildford Studio
Category : Shooter
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10