When Bodycount appeared in June after being virtually silent for a year, I was quite surprised to hear they planned on releasing it by the end of Summer. The game, billed as the spiritual successor to the well received Black on the Playstation 2, was high on a lot of folks watch lists. But the Houdini act is rarely a good thing in the video game industry and Bodycount is further proof of that.
The focus of Bodycount is to shoot people. Shocking, I know. But really this is the extent of the gameplay. There's very little narrative to speak of, and what is there doesn't really make any coherent sense. The story goes something like this - there’s a war between to factions and you are sent in as part of a group called the Network and find out how to stop it. This involves shooting everyone and everything on both sides. I guess that is one way to stop a war.
Your missions take you through four basic level motifs each of which get reused quite heavily. In fact there are at least three instances where you play the exact same level over again. In a game that will take you around four hours to beat this seems completely unacceptable - especially at a $60 price tag. Bodycount’s gimmick though is a destructible enviornment - buildings, walls, and other objects break in a blaze of glory during intense firefights. It’s impressive, but we’ve seen it before in the likes of Battlefield Bad Company 2.
Bigger enemies will come right through the walls at you.
Still for what Bodycount is, it is satisfying. There's an arcade like feel to the scoring that's similar to Bulletstorm, rewarding you bonus points for killing enemies in different ways. Head shots, grenade kills, environmental type kills will all increase a scoring multiplier. Killing enemies also drops intel onto the battlefield, these glowing. Blue circles fill up a meter that let you unleash special abilities like unlimited bullets and airstrikes.
A weird issue with the game is just how it controls. Pulling the left trigger brings you into iron sights, which would normally be fine, but when in this aiming mode you a locked from movement. Instead the left analog stick allows you to duck into cover or lean left and right. On top of this odd control choice, the analog aiming is incredibly sluggish making it difficult to make rapid turns or even aim precisely. I constantly felt as if I was fighting the controls which is never a good thing in a twitch based shooter.
After the short campaign you can go back and complete each level again in “Bodycount” mode - which is really just a high scoring mode for each level. The game also features online deathmatch and team deathmatch, though in our testing, it was extremely difficult to even get one of these to work due to a poorly implemented lobby system.
Bodycount does offer a two player online co-op mode. This survival based mode is across four maps (one in each motif!) and players must survive 20 waves of enemies. The waves get progressively harder and the longer you survive the more access to weapons you’ll have. The only way to lose at the mode is to have both players go down at the same time, otherwise, you’ll just have to wait to respawn.
Honestly the mode is pretty boring and once you find a good spot to take down the enemy, it’s simply a matter of holing up and riding it out. The difficulty also ramps up rather quickly, making it an uneven affair.
When a game goes into hiding, comes out of hiding, and suddenly is released it’s usually not a good sign of the quality. Despite the high praises of Bodycount’s pedigree, it seems this game is nothing more than a tech demo. Perhaps if the game was a $20 downloadable title it would be easier to recommend, but in a fall gaming season that's set to be chock full of great titles - you are better off skipping this one.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.