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Bodycount hands-on preview

Bodycount presents itself less ambiguously, title-wise, than its spiritual predecessor, Black. Sure, Black sounds cool, but what kind of game would that be (although the bullets on the box art of Black let gamers know)? Bodycount feels much more obvious, and at the same time seems to be joining Bulletstorm in some kind of trend for first-person shooters to approach self-parody in their titles. Ironically, at least in the level we played, there was no plethora of enemies with which to rack up the titular count. Sure, there were dudes to blow away, but not more than in your average shooter. Perhaps a more accurate title for the game would be Buildingshred, because man, does the poor environment take a beating.

Those familiar with Black and know that Bodycount is sort of a next-gen version of that game will also know that the central component of these games is what’s been lovingly referred to as “gun porn.” It’s an apt phrase. The guns in Bodycount are loud, beastly, nasty engines of flesh ruination. It’s clear that the devs have tweaked and re-tweaked the look, sound, and feel of every gun so that just shooting them is a reward in itself. You could shoot them in an empty room and have fun. Note: if you don’t have a beefy sound system at home, you’ll at least want headphones to do these guns justice. Low volume or crappy speakers will suck half the fun out of this game.

Everything we’ve seen of Bodycount so far has shown a realistic, if slightly stylized world for the story to take place in. We’ve seen standard gritty-shooter brown environments and real-world rifles and guns. Our hands-on revealed that the game has quite more up its sleeve, and it all stems from the story. Everything is quite mysterious, with your character part of a shady organization known as The Network. You’re a paid employee (a funny voice chimes in when you’re near death to let you know that your employment ends upon death), so you’re not exactly some honorable hero. Your job is to take on another private army The Network creatively calls The Target. Next to nothing is known about them, and so in our mission we went to Africa to find out anything we could.


Above: Go to Africa? Check. Leave nothing standing? Check-plus

The level we played looks like what we’ve seen in screens: brown, dusty, with shanties stacked on top of each other and grim enemy soldiers with skulls painted on their faces. The first thing we encountered, before firing a shot, was the game’s unique aiming system. It takes getting used to: holding down the left trigger puts you into aim mode, but it’s not the same as with typical Aim Down Sights (ADS) modes. It roots you in place, shifting the function of the left stick to a lean rather than moving you. It allows you to peek around and over cover, like a refined old-school lean function. We discovered, thankfully, that pulling the trigger only partway enables regular ADS, although we wonder if that will get tiresome through an entire game, since we preferred being able to move.

The peeking system ties in well to the environmental destruction, because as you crouch behind a wooden fence, for instance, the enemy will shoot holes in it. Then you can peek around to shoot back at them through the very holes they created. We also discovered how horrifically easy it is to tear apart a shanty with a single grenade (and naturally, the game encourages such shenanigans). Even if grenades aren’t handy, this is one of those shooters with conveniently-placed explosive barrels everywhere.

All this might seem like Bodycount is a mindless bullet-fest, but it most certainly is not. This became obvious when we encountered the Medic. He’ll scurry around the field and actually revive enemies you’ve killed, and if you encounter him alongside one of the tougher Psychopaths, things become really dangerous. Then there’s the Scavenger, whose job is to sneak about and steal your intel. Normally, enemies you kill drop little spheres of intel, which is the game’s currency, and you can just scoop it up. If you leave it lying around (which is understandable when you’re pinned down), the Scavenger can snatch it and run off with it, so chasing him down becomes a desperate gamble if he’s not alone. For an extra cool touch, if he does get away he can even deliver the intel to his boss, who can then use it against you.

The Psychopath at the end of the level wasn’t too tough – he just required some tactical retreating as he lumbered forward with his giant Gatling gun and obscene health. It was after him, at the end of the level, that Bodycount revealed it’s going to be much more than a brown, dreary shooter. Our character found an incongruously high-tech door behind the alley of shanties, and opening it revealed… something. We didn’t really see the inside, but the men residing there emerged, wearing ultra sci-fi outfits and carrying futuristic weapons. And so we learn that The Target may have been using low-tech mercenaries as cover, but they are at the bleeding edge of military technology. We then got to see some concept art showing how the color palette of the game will actually change drastically throughout the game, moving to blues, oranges and purples when the story leads to the Far East, and then stark whites, reds and blacks inside the Target complex. So Bodycount definitely has more to show us, and we hope it’s before the game’s release next summer.

Dec 16, 2010

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12 comments

  • JCBlueNose2011 - February 13, 2011 4:06 p.m.

    This game looks a lot like CoD and is definatley going on my get list
  • GeeThixty - December 22, 2010 7:59 p.m.

    I can't wait to see the evolution of the set fps controller. There is much room for improvement. @presc1ence leaning is an essential mechanic in the process of war. @Vulneratus Escapism is only viable through a realistic process.
  • Rivenscry - December 22, 2010 3:23 p.m.

    I loved Black with a passion and am still praying for a sequel from Criterion, I mean Gun-Porn does sound crude, but stack it up against today's FPS's like COD-4 and the gun sounds still sound better in Black, seriously, it was like a cannon in a vacuum sealed room going off... But I still can't believe that anyone apart from me still remembers Black. I know I should be ashamed to admit it, but I actually still play it today, bloody great game, if a bit on the short side...And what the guy above me said, the leaning things, if you don't have the option to turn it off, might just be a terrible idea. I'll reserve judgement until it comes out though, lucky I actually played Black in the first place, the price was high for me back then, but I found it cheap and I realise now that it was worth the higher price anyway. P.S. Dear Criterion, please release a sequel to Black on the PS3, please. If not at least do a H.D. upgrade of the original...it would look amazing. come on you know you want to... Yours Sincerely, A Concerned slightly-too much fan.
  • presc1ence - December 19, 2010 6:47 p.m.

    damn i thought this looked good, but leaning? are we back on the ps2? I hated this mechanaic then (it is soooooo stupid) and i have a felling i'l hate it now.Disappointing as i LOVED balck!
  • Vulneratus - December 18, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    Black was quite a good game (I still remember blowing up the huge clocktower for the 1st time on the opening level, and playing through the bastard-tough last area with wave after wave of enemies). However if I did have one criticism it was probably that the game was a tad TOO realistic... I mean don't get me wrong, realism is obviously something to strive for in modern videogames, but lets not forget how big a part escapism plays in it too... I play mostly to escape a contemporary mundane society, not to revel in a replica of it. Anyhoo, this seems to me to have a more compelling story and setting, so yeah, expectations are now high.
  • kamikaziechameleon - December 17, 2010 8:08 p.m.

    I doubt I'll pick this up if it isn't on PC, SP shooters look and play best on here.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - December 17, 2010 6:35 p.m.

    There are currently no plans for a PC release. I used to also refuse to play FPS games on a controller, but I got over that when I played through CoD 4 when I borrowed the PS3 version from a friend. Yes, mouse and keyboard is superior, but trust me, you can get over the controller thing and have plenty of fun on console FPSes.
  • CountFenring - December 17, 2010 7:47 a.m.

    I really like this look. I think this is the first time I've seen it, and it reminds me of Borderlands.
  • Pyrovizard - December 17, 2010 3:56 a.m.

    loved the fuck outta BLACK, even if some of those missions were impossible till the stars aligned for ya, gonna have to give this a go when it's released
  • WickedSid - December 17, 2010 2:15 a.m.

    Game looks great, with a great preview (although, I have been fooled before, TWO WORLDS!!!). I'm really interested on how the story will progress with the scifi-esque plot-point. No mention on when said plot-twist takes place? Hopefully there is at least one mission before this one, to have a nice nitty-gritty romp with all the nitty-gritty-ness. And the inclusion of small support-type enemy AI seems like an awesome addition to a (non-typical) shooter.
  • SideOfBeef - December 17, 2010 2:12 a.m.

    I have to say, those guns look really damn good.
  • smallberry - December 17, 2010 2:05 a.m.

    What news of a PC release? I still can't play shooters on a controller. I wonder what happened with this game that caused Stuart Black's departure. I hope the game doesn't suffer for it.

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