It’s very easy to write-off Bodycount as a mishmash of ideas from other shooters imitated and implemented badly. But with a little patience and forgiveness there is a competent shooter underneath that may just win you over.
It’s unfortunate that Bodycount makes such a bad first impression. The aforementioned mishmash of ideas makes it look like it has the intension of piggybacking off of what was popular and relevant with today’s FPS enthusiasts. The aesthetic of Brink, the Skill Shots of Bulletstorm, the intel gathering of Crackdown, the building destruction of Battlefield Bad Company and the frenzied battlefields of Call of Duty are all packaged together into an arcade style FPS with very little, if any, personality of its own. However, after the first few levels of the campaign, or an hour or so of online play, it’s entirely possible these negative feelings will be forgotten, even if it’s only temporarily. Strip the style and the gimmicks away and you’ll find a solid shooter with an enjoyable multiplayer and a pleasantly pure experience.
This “pure experience” comes from the old school elements that make up the core of the title. The arcade style is fast paced and visceral, where simply spraying your weapons works out to be a surprisingly effective strategy. The multiplayer shows its purity in the omission of any progression objectives. Everyone is equal. Starting with the same weapons and being able to switch them at set weapon drops on each map, and all players have access to the four perks also featured in singleplayer.
These perks offer temporary effects to you character, from increased health and damage to an airstrike. To use them you collect the intel orbs from fallen enemies to fill an energy bar on your HUD. They’re extremely useful abilities that not only help a great deal in the singleplayer, but can turn the tide in multiplayer. It’s just a shame the rest of the multiplayer package is so sparse.
The multiplayer consists of a two player cooperative mode where you fight off waves of enemies, as well as competitive deathmatch and team deathmatch modes over a paltry four maps. What’s here is fun but for only a very short amount of time. There’s simply no longevity, leaving you with only the singleplayer campaign to keep you busy.
The campaign is also low on content. The shallow narrative has you traipse through regions of Africa and Asia on a mission to stop a pending war. You work for an organisation known as the Network, whose mission it is to prevent large scale conflicts erupting seemingly by killing the two sides involved. It’s a weak narrative, but it does give you an excuse to let loose on each level. Six hours later though, and it’s all over.
It’s certainly a short experience, but the frantic action has its charms. The exterior levels are cluttered with debris and enemies, making it an intensely dangerous place to stand still in, encouraging a fast pace. The destruction physics work well too, although what you can shred with your bullets is quite limited. Unfortunately the feedback is too subtle when indicating whether you’re hitting enemies with your shots and whether you yourself are being hit. Indicators show the direction of fire, but it’s all too common to die unexpectedly among the action. Additionally the enemies blend into the clutter so spotting threats can be tricky.
Another enemy enters the fray after a few levels and treats you to the odd level in a Tron-esque interior against a more uniform enemy. Initially it sparks interest in the story, but it soon falls by the way side.
Bodycount does try to add an element of originality to its otherwise copy pasted implementation of features by introducing a peculiar cover/aiming system. Holding the left trigger plants your feet to the ground and zooms you view slightly whilst moving with the analogue sticks causes your character to bob and weave. It allows you to peak over and around cover effectively, firing off at enemies, but when used in the open it exposes you. Holding the trigger halfway does allow you to move whilst zoomed in rather than bob and weave, but it’s not the most intuitive action and takes time to master. Either way it’s unusual, and whilst the zoom replaces any iron sight aiming it fits the arcade action.
Indeed Bodycount doesn’t do anything new with the FPS formula but does promote a classic way of playing that certainly strikes the nostalgia nerve. Unfortunately, this nostalgia reminds you of better games. If Bodycount’s multiplayer was expanded and it received a little more polish it could have been a contended, but as it is it’s simple a slightly above average shooter.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: Xbox 360/ PS3 Release Date: 02/09/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Bodycount for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on an Xbox 360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.