We've had a plethora of first-person shooters released in recent years. There have been so many that we've even started creating sub-genres to help categories them more efficiently. But with increased numbers comes increased expectation and despite solid intentions, Bodycount fails to match up to the standards that have been set. It's a shame as it does offer up some potential.
Before going any further, it's worth pointing out that Bodycount's story is just about as throw-away as you can get. You play a guy called "Jackson", who's part of an organisation called "The Network". You're initially tasked with taking down bad people, but things accelerate at a lightning pace and you realise that there's a conspiracy.
At no point will you remotely care about what's going on in the story, nor will you remotely care about the character you're playing. And this is a pretty big flaw, even for a first-person shooter, where expectations for story are quite low already.
Thankfully, the rest of the game isn't as woeful as the story, there are some rather neat concepts at play. One such concept is how destruction has been implemented. There are of course some corridor sections to Bodycount, but there are also quite a lot of levels where you're free to roam around. Of course, there are objectives, but the game doesn't hold your hand that much. It ties in well with the destruction, as you can just create your own paths to get from the different objectives. Not many games attempt to even implement full destruction, so the fact Codemasters were able to implement it, in such a thoughtful way, is appreciated.
It's just disappointing that many of the other mechanics end up falling flat. For example, the cover system. It's clear why the developers implemented it the way they did, but that doesn't mean it works very well in practice. The idea, is that there are two levels of aiming. The first allows you to still move around freely, the second plants your feet and allows you to enter a dynamic cover system. The problem is, that when you're in a free-flowing firefight, it falls apart.
More often than not, your primary concern will be about taking out the bad guys as quickly as possible. And if the situation is quite tense, you probably won't be wanting to think about applying different levels of pressure to the aim button in order to initiate different types of aiming. It's actually easier to just move, full-on aim, take down a few people then move again. Trying to get it to work as a proper cover system is too finicky and when you're moving while aiming, it's not very accurate.It might sound quite pedantic, but it's one of the game's unique selling points and there's no real indication about how it's intended to be used. And more often than not, you'll end up bobbing and weaving while standing on the spot, in plain view of the enemy - unless you just don't bother shooting.
Bodycount does also implement a "skill shot" system, which ties in with Jackson's various abilities. Performing standard kills on enemies will give you very little reward, but if you kill them in certain ways, you'll get more intel, which can be saved up. Actions can be performed in combination with each other, so a "Near Death, Surprised, Last Bullet, Backstab Headshot" is possible. For each skill shot you perform, your multiplier will also increase. However, if you perform a non-skillful kill, your combo gets reset. It's harsh, but fair.
Quite a lot of the moves aren't huge game changers, but they are handy every now and then - especially the air strike. Other abilities give your bullets a bit more damage and make you a bit more resilient to damage.
Destruction aside, Bodycount isn't that great to look at. It's pretty average in the grand scheme of things, although the levels are themselves quite nice. It's also quite disappointing that the enemies are so generic, both in terms of looks and play-style. Yes, there are different factions in the game, but changing one generic-looking soldier for another doesn't change the fact that it still feels like you're fighting the exact same enemy.
The factions also disappear as soon as they appear too, due to the game being so short. You can complete it rather comfortably in under 5 hours on the standard difficulty. There is a multiplayer component tacked on that features co-op and deathmatch scenarios, but it's nothing we haven't already seen before.
Bodycount has a few neat concepts, like how the destruction mechanic is implemented, but it falls short in so many other areas. It tries to go away from the grain, but it ends up being a rather generic shooter with limited replay value and a rather poor story.
|Destruction system is implemented well.|
|There are at least lots of different missions.|
|Decent array of weapons.|
|Story is very forgettable.|
|Game is far too short.|
|Nothing new with regards to replay value.|