Every so often we hear about a first person shooter that’s supposed to break away from the traditional Call of Duty and Battlefield style games that have dominated the market for the most part. Codemasters’ Bodycount was aiming just for that – the name itself suggests that you’re going to kill more people than Jim Jones in a Kool-Aid store. Sadly, this title is too slowly paced and unpolished to quench your thirst for blood.
The heart of Bodycount revolves around the rather vague campaign mode. The story isn’t engaging at all, and the plot elements that you will pick up on are very cliche. Still, you shouldn’t even be looking at a game named Bodycount if you’re expecting an epic tale with tons of original ideas.
The real selling point here is the skillshot system that rewards for punishing foes in style. Where other games mostly focus on objectives, the selling point here is that you’re significantly rewarded for creative kills.
Unfortunately, the skillshot system seems like nothing more than a weak imitation of the system found in Bulletstorm. Many of your skillshots will either come from killing an enemy from behind or shooting them in the head. Generously placed explosive barrels and a seemingly infinite supply of grenades and land mines will also allow you to string your skillshot combo longer, but the sad truth is that focusing on your combo vastly reduces the pace of the game.
It’s simple to take your time, peek your head around corners, and pick off enemies with headshots, one by one (which would earn you a perfect ranking for a level), but it’s so much more adrenaline-pumping to charge at a wave of enemies with a blatant disregard for your own life. The lack of ways to obtain skillshots in addition to the complete lack of any time consideration makes the whole system feel detrimental to the gameplay.
Although Bodycount utilizes a regenerative health system, every other resource imaginable is obtained from corpses. The one benefit of utilizing skillshots is that enemies will drop more Intel, which is the fuel for all of your power-ups. As you progress through the campaign, you will quickly unlock invincibility, powerful ammunition, increased enemy vision, and an airstrike power-up. On paper these seem like great additions, but it’s so easy to overlook them and forget that they even exist.
Apart from invincibility (which can come in handy if you’re low on health), there really aren’t that many instances in which you can give yourself a significant advantage. Saving up the Intel and coordinating an effective airstrike is difficult as well, and it’s definitely not a tool that is used often.
The inclusion of destructible environments is a neat feature when it comes in handy, but for the most part this too can go unnoticed due to a lack of consistency. Occasionally you’ll find a boarded up room that can be broken in to, and sometimes a concrete barrier that an enemy is crouched behind can crumble with a few carefully placed shots. Still, too much of the environment is indestructible, preventing this feature from being a strong selling point.
Even with its less than flawless setup, there was still some potential for Bodycount to be entertaining, but the sheer lack of variety and downright oblivious computer AI detract from the overall experience. The campaign can easily be completed in only a handful of hours, but even within this short span of time the missions feel repetitive.
Besides the fact that some missions literally take place in the same area, most of the objectives simply involve running from waypoint to waypoint. From time to time you’ll be pitted against an extra tough enemy that will require a different strategy than typical firefights, but otherwise you won’t find anything that will truly make any moment stand out from the rest of the game.
As mentioned, the computer opponents are absolutely unaware of their surroundings. It’s understandable when an enemy decides to take cover next to a giant red barrel with a flame on it – this occasional mistake happens to the best of us. You really have to question your enemy’s intelligence when they suddently stop firing and remain completely out in the open for seconds at a time. It’s even possible to run past the opposing terrorists without them being aware of your existence.
The total lack of situational awareness by the computer makes it difficult to take the campaign seriously. Not even the worst of online gamers would stand their idly if the person in front of them was pumped full of lead, yet that is an all to common occurance here.
Sadly, the multiplayer component leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to wait a long time if you’re looking for a team deathmatch round, and even regular deathmatch games with as little as five people took some time to get started. Once you get a match started though, you’ll find that there’s hardly any reason to favor this game over any other title. The entire experience is generic and the action here is also slowly paced. The maps currently available don’t allow for much variety in terms of strategy, and the main selling points of Bodycount hardly play a role here.
Simply put, Bodycount has failed to live up to the hype. If you were expecting anything even remotely as satisfying as Bulletstorm then you’re going to be sorely dissappointed. The skillshot system offers little room in terms of creativity, and playing through the campaign is such a basic and repetitive process. Apart from the occasional terrorist-burning explosion, there just isn’t a whole lot to get excited about here. With its shortage of content and overall lackluster gameplay, you won’t be missing much if you skip out on Bodycount.