Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Bodycount

With Bodycount, players get exactly what it says on the box. Codemasters’ newest first-person shooter offers intense gun battles with plenty of AI to mow down and enough explosive action to keep even the most trigger-happy of gamers entertained.

However, with all the great shooters out there, especially with the strong franchises which have earned themselves legions of loyal gamers, new titles need to be show they have what it takes to compete with the big guns, or at least offer something different.

Bodycount has gone down the second route and chosen a philosophy to provide hardcore shooter fans with what it thinks they really want: hoards of enemies to gun-down from all sides, using a fun if not limited array of weapons, and well designed destructible environments to blow-up.

In certain aspects of the game, Bodycount achieves what it’s aiming for and the developers have made shooting down a mass group of enemies coming towards you satisfying, while the explosions do look great.

Also the controls work well and are easy to learn. The unique cover system used, which allows players to quickly hide behind pretty much anything with a pull of the left trigger, is useful as most pillars or crates you hide behind in the game can be destroyed.

The character can also peek and shoot around cover easily with the left stick which is a nice touch.

Bodycount also rewards players for scoring kills, kill streaks and stylised shooting. The more baddies you defeat, the more points, or “intel” you gain, which in turn unlocks temporary upgrades including invulnerability, exploding ammo, an airstrike and a form of night-vision.

However, the reward-system is limited and the overall gameplay doesn’t really offer enough to warrant a play through the whole campaign.

And sadly, the reward-system is not the only downside. The route of high-octane senseless shooting Bodycount has taken means that aspects like character depth and mission detail have all been overlooked.

To say the storyline is thin is an overstatement. The main character you play, who I still don't know the name of other than you are called the “Asset”, is working for an group called “The Network” and after landing somewhere in Africa for a vague reason about trying to prevent civil war, you come across a shady outfit called “Target” which are hell-bent on world domination.

It all feels a little rushed and incomplete and I found it disappointing that there wasn’t a genuine main character with a back story that I could be interested in or wanted to complete the game for.

The campaigns themselves are also a let-down, most missions are repetitive and consist of going from one point to another in order to turn on power, disarm a bomb or to collect some form of item to help the game progress.

Another disappointment is the open-ended level designs, which despite being colourful and good-looking in places, in particular Target’s Tron-like futuristic underground weapons facility, are repetitive with missions forcing players to replay parts of the map to complete certain tasks.

Lastly, I found Bodycount’s AI a serious flaw in the game. On more than one occasion I saw enemies running aimlessly past me or just standing watching a grenade that had just been thrown at their feet, waiting to be blown to pieces. They needed to be smarter, to provide a little more test to kill.

Online, Bodycount was actually quite fun, particularly the two-player co-op mode, but I still felt there still needed to be more options in multiplayer mode.

This game offers a lot of fun and action with moments of pure joy but still finds itself wanting in terms of longevity.

There is enough in this to make it a good game worth trying but it lacks too much which other shooters can offer to make this a great game worth buying. A little more polish and more time spent on the online aspects and the AI in the game could have made this a much better shooter.

It will fill a void and is easy to pick-up-and-play but if you are looking for a shooter with more of a substantial storyline and deeper gameplay then you will need to look elsewhere.