If it moves, shoot it. Or blow it up.
The FPS genre certainly isn’t taking a break this year. Almost every month there’s a new gun-wielding hero on the horizon, and of course it’s up to us to decide if the game is worth your time or not. The latest heavyweight to (pardon the pun) show off their guns is Bodycount, a game that unapologetically boasts a gun-slinging experience like never before.
In the game you play as a former American soldier who is recruited by a mysterious organization known as The Network. When peace talks fail or when world events spiral out of control, The Network steps in to take care of business and put things back on track. A mysterious enemy known only as “Target” is manipulating various world events and causing civil war to break out, and it’s up to you to sort things out. While this all seems very run of the mill, the game does boast some rather impressive differences.
For one thing, firepower certainly is king here. You have a strong armory of weapons to choose from and there never seems to be a shortage of things to shoot at. Each gun’s behavior has also been expertly tweaked; shooting with a machine gun will spray your bullets slightly due to the gun’s recoil, while using a shotgun will thrust an enemy a good few feet backwards when shot. It’s small things like this that show the various details that Codemasters looked into when crafting the game. Grenades and land mines are also in your arsenal, handily mapped to the left and right shoulder buttons. If you double tap the right button, you throw an ‘impact’ grenade, which instantly detonates when it hits the ground or a target – useful for disposing of a cluster of enemies. The game also makes use of ‘shredding’, which is the ability to tear through most of your environment using both guns and explosions. Environmental kills are also aplenty, with strategically-placed oil barrels just begging to be blow up next to your enemies. It’s this truly destructive nature that makes the game exciting to play through – because your landscape can change quite drastically in a matter of seconds, you’re constantly being challenged to think of new routes and new ways to take out the enemy. Shredding can be seen in anything from walls made out of corrugated metal sheets, to concrete barriers that slowly chip away to revel their metal frames.
The second draw of the game is that is tracks and rewards how you dispose of your enemies. Each enemy that you dispatch will drop blue orbs of intel – collecting these orbs will gradually give you access to particular powerups; an adrenaline shot, explosive rounds, or even airstrikes. These in turn can be further upgraded as your progress through the game to aid you in your missions. At the end of each level you are given a rating on how many kills you achieved and how many of these you pulled off with skill. If you’re gunning for the top score and a perfect rating, you can always re-visit any of the game’s campaign levels in Bodycount mode. Lastly, the game’s AI has been tweaked into a series of classes which certainly makes for some rather interesting assaults. Units such as Commanders should be taken out first, as they help organize attacks on your location. Similarly, dispatching of enemy medics will make your life a lot easier when faced with some of the many waves of enemies.
Certainly one of the things in Bodycount that I liked better was the cover system. Rather than the ‘stick behind this and pray’ cover mechanism that most FPS games utilize, Bodycount gives you complete freedom in how you want to take cover. Simply run up to an object and hold down the left trigger – moving the left analog stick down will let you duck behind cover, while tilting it left or right will let you lean around and engage an enemy. It certainly takes a while to get used to, but once mastered it can prove to be a much more satisfactory cover system.
The game of course boasts a few multiplayer options in the form of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes, as well as a Co-op mode that you can master. Unfortunately since I was playing a debug code there was no one else online to play with, but if the multiplayer is as much fun as the campaign mode, then you’re in for a real treat. Graphically the game doesn’t look too bad, with the destructive environment clearly pulling most of the game’s ‘wow’ factor. But whether you’re running along the shoreline, strafing through a shantytown or weaving through city alleys, each level brings its own character and destructive joys. The audio is as you would expect for any FPS game – explosions galore from every speaker. The voice-acting and narration is quite strong, though I’m putting the few audio hiccups down to the fact that this was just debug code.
The only minor gripe that I seemed to have with Bodycount is it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish who your enemy is – at one point I was running into a street when a wave of soldiers joined me and started shooting at my enemy. I cheerfully assumed these were reinforcements, until one of them turned around and started shooting at me. They turned out to be another warring faction, and on a second play through I decided to hide in a building and let the two sides completely obliterate each other – which they ended up doing with much gusto.
Bodycount is not like most FPS games you’ve played – there’s no impressive cinematics, no angst-ridden storyline, or gravity-defying weaponry. You just pick up a gun, start your mission, and shoot anything that comes in your way. If you want to break way from the regular FPS drones and try something old-fashioned yet refreshing, then give Bodycount a go – you’ll be surprised how much fun mindless shooting can be.
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