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Score: 62%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1; 2 - 12 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Bodycount unfortunately has only a few things going for it. One is the in-your-face visual style. It doesn't stack up to Crysis 2 or Gears of War 3, but as long as the action stays hot, it's not unattractive. Since this game comes to us from many of the designers behind last-gen cult hit Black, many might be expecting it to be quite an explosive experience. For the most part, Bodycount gets that right. Few shooters are this utterly chaotic, at least in the truest sense of the word. Put frankly, stuff blows up real good. Explosions are fiery and violent, and each one leaves a trail of death and destruction in its wake. There are some (admittedly simple) environmental destruction effects at work, and while they aren't on the same level as anything in any of the recent Battlefield games, they help sell the illusion.

Bodycount's sound design is quite solid. The ten or so weapons you'll be firing over the course of the campaign sound pretty nasty. Explosions don't settle for the disorienting pseudo-silence that affects the player in most modern military shooters. Instead, each explosion seems eager to flaunt its destructive power from every possible angle. When the music doesn't simply settle for being inoffensive, it works to help instill the sense of purpose that the storytelling abjectly fails to communicate.


As the subject turns to storytelling, we move beyond Bodycount's successes and come to the point that the rest of the game simply isn't very good. It's not broken or incompetent. It's just a bland, forgettable experience, and that's a huge problem for an entry into the overcrowded first-person shooter space. There are good ideas at work here, but none of them are developed well enough to help this otherwise functional shooter stand on its own two legs and make a name for itself.

While there are some success stories, good storytelling isn't exactly a must for the shooter genre. All you need is a reason to shoot dudes in the face and blow sh*t up. Bodycount's storytelling is weak to the point where I would have preferred no background or narrative at all. It could have settled for "Level [insert number]: Kill Everybody And Get To The Extraction Point." But if you must know, Bodycount's single player campaign revolves around the Network, an agency that resolves volatile situations by basically liquidating all of the involved parties. At least, that's what I gathered from the uninteresting load screens, as well as the chatty female voice who is constantly in the player's ear. There's more to it than that, albeit not much; you're going after a guy known as The Target. That's about all you need to know, as Bodycount's campaign is neither interesting nor long enough to get you invested.

Bodycount's campaign is as straightforward as shooters get, save for a few special mechanics. For example, the second you pull (LT) to aim down the sights, your feet become locked in place, and the only movement you're allowed is the act of leaning and swiveling in place. It's different, to be sure, and it will turn some players off. However, it doesn't break the game. The campaign is a purely "go here, shoot this, activate this" affair. The same can be said of the sparse (and as of this writing, severely underpopulated) multiplayer suite.


Bodycount's difficulty level is wildly inconsistent, but it mostly errs on the side of being too easy. This is primarily due to its woefully bad enemy A.I. Especially early on, enemies seem unconcerned with your presence and appear more intent on fighting other NPCs. This is part of what makes Bodycount different, but it often makes it feel as if you're really fighting dirty. There's even a skillshot for killing enemies who have their attention focused elsewhere. When the enemies are split into warring factions, Bodycount lives up to its name with ease.

However, there are times when enemies are too aware of your presence -- by design. One mission in particular has you infiltrating a futuristic complex full of technologically advanced supersoldiers, and once you reach a certain point, the game throws several clusters of them at you. When your enemies rush you en masse, survival is extremely unlikely. After a while, frustration might set in.

Game Mechanics:

It would be horribly unfair to judge Bodycount solely on the merits of its premise. What matters is the execution of everything supporting it. Unfortunately, the game falters here, too. Spend five minutes with Bodycount, and you'll see its myriad influences practically coming out of the woodwork. At its core, though, Bodycount is essentially the crippled illegitimate child of Bulletstorm. Forgive the tasteless metaphor, but know that it is an apt one. Take, for example, the underdeveloped (and identically-named) skillshot system, and the Echo-like Bodycount mode.

By killing with skill (explosives, headshots, etc.), you earn intel, an energy source that explodes out of fallen enemies like the skill orbs from Crackdown. Intel is used to power the Operative Support Button, or O.S.B. The O.S.B. is a radial menu that slots a number of special abilities, which include temporary invincibility, explosive bullets, an enhanced radar system, and the ability to call in airstrikes. Though each of these abilities levels up at certain points in the campaign, they remain relatively shallow and uninteresting. Luckily, the O.S.B. keeps the multiplayer chained down to a partially uninspired experience, rather than a wholly uninspired experience.

There's no finishing this review without addressing the elephant in the room. Bodycount is built like a budget shooter and plays like one too, yet it's currently sitting on store shelves at full price. If you're a fan of Black and want to get a good idea of what came of this project, give the demo a shot before spending your money. The mission contained therein is a good representation of almost everything Bodycount has to offer.

Bodycount's greatest strengths lie in areas that matter the least. Outside of the above-average audio/visual package, this game simply doesn't have it where it counts. This game has some genuinely interesting ideas that unfortunately never grow beyond their larval stages. As a result, you'll spend most of the experience wondering what could have been, rather than appreciating what's actually there.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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