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Bodycount review

AT A GLANCE
  • Fantastically destructive action
  • OSB works beautifully... online
  • Very fun when it's all kicking off
  • Poor signposting and checkpoints
  • Bodycount mode is a level select
  • Highly suspect grading system

After 35,693 shots fired, 583 grenades thrown and 2,184 bad guys killed, Bodycount's single-player mode lies bleeding before me. All seven hours and eight minutes of it. And I'm happy to report it was damn fun shooting holes in everything. In that respect, it is a big success. However, I was under the impression that the game would really come into its own on repeat plays in the eponymous Bodycount mode – and that's where things have gone awry.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For those who've never encountered Bodycount before, it's a first-person shooter designed to put the fun back into shooting things. From the creators of Black (although with Stuart Black himself quitting the project before it was complete), it's similarly heavy on the destruction and all about the simple joy of firing a gun.

Above: Firing guns at things often ends in mass destruction. Which is as it should be, of course

I can't think of many FPS games with as much emphasis on weapon balance, which Bodycount excels at. Most games have shotguns that are predictably super-powerful up close but lose their sting rapidly over distance, but it's all exaggerated here, to great effect. Explosive grenade launchers are ludicrously powerful but take an absolute age to reload. And the silenced pistol is fast and quiet, but you need to be bang on with the accuracy or you're dead. It all translates into on-the-fly tactical changes that seriously turn the tables of combat.

There's a small amount of snap-to if you squeeze the aim button, but it's not enough to make this a skill-free experience. I did find myself using the trigger more for this feature, however, than the interesting walk/stand/lean mechanic that lets you squeeze the trigger to different degrees depending which effect you want. Leaning is fun, however, especially if you pretend to dodge bullets like Neo out of The Matrix.

I know Gun Fu

That's not the only similarity with Keanu's finest hour (well, second-finest hour after Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, naturally), as once you get through a few levels of naturalistic environments, suddenly you find yourself inside a very futuristic bunker.

Above: Bit of a curve ball, these sections. But they're ultra-challenging, even on Normal

It looks more like Capcom's Gamecube classic P.N.03 than anything else, and practically recreates the Matrix's lobby shootout in every room. Taking cover, waiting for reload gaps and leaning out to take a pot shot works really well and I can't help but think perhaps this futuristic concept should have been explored further. It has quite a distinct feel and could have had its own game.

But instead, it's used for variety (which is still commendable) and you soon find yourself back above ground, exploring a new area. From Africa to Asia, every setting has its own colour theme, meaning you can tell pretty much instantaneously how far through the game any screenshot is.

Above: Now, I like the orange area, but I also like the blue area. But which is best? Only one way to find out...

Asia's blue works beautifully, especially when the rain is hammering down. The sound effect of the rain on a tin roof is superb with stereo headphones on, especially with the gunfire, explosions and collapsing masonry sounding so good alongside it.

However, the music isn't so hot. It's generically themed to the area you're in, sure, but it's pretty featureless and all melody is passed up in favour of orchestral stabs and repeating ostinato patterns that get tiresome very quickly, especially when you're stuck looking for a way to reach the next waypoint marker.

Lost in the moment

It is frustrating when you're enjoying yourself immensely and then suddenly it all goes quiet because you've killed everyone and haven't found the next spawn trigger. You can see where you're supposed to go by the little on-screen marker (complete with distance reading), but signposting is pretty poor.

I always found my way eventually, but there were several occasions where I simply didn't know where I should be going. The coast in the bay was one, and another was outside the mine. It breaks up the action and could have been fixed so easily.

Impressively, the game doesn't get boring even when you're stuck on a particularly difficult section. I lost count the number of times I died and restarted on the Pirate Bay (when you're tracking a general in the warehouse). It's damn hard. But while the challenge itself was fine, it was the restart point that frustrated me.

Above: There's the warehouse in the background, guarded by a suicide bomber. Nice

You see, I'd found the general. I'd killed the guards, flushed him out and followed him to the other end of the map. And I killed him with a grenade. Mission updated – great. But then a sniper shot to the head cost me my life… at which point I was put back to the run-up to the warehouse. That's not fair. And it's not the only time a tough mission objective is cleared but you can still die and go back to the section before it - it happens quite often.

The game is still all about the action wherever you are in the narrative, so it doesn't grate for quite a while as you reattempt tricky sections, but reloading for the umpteenth time does start to stretch that willingness to try again.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Codemasters
Developed by: Codemasters
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending
Justin Towell
GamesRadar

The longest-serving GR+ staffer, I was here when all this was just fields. I'm currently in charge of reviews but still find time to make daft Photoshop stories and try to explain why there need to be more arcade racing games.

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  • crumbdunky - September 4, 2011 7:04 a.m.

    Well done, my namesake, but I bet it wouldn't take you three pages top call a Sony game "meh", would it? Make no bones about it, either, "meh" IS the descriptive term, most fitting to this claptrap of missed ideas and lack of BLACKness.
  • IceBlueKirby - September 2, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    I may get this, but not anytime soon. I do like the sound of it though, what with the focus on just shooting things and blowing things up...sounds like a thrill.
  • Hobogonigal - September 2, 2011 2:04 a.m.

    I played the demo of this and didn't really think it was special. It was a bit disappointing after reading the brilliant preview. This review makes it sound really fun though so I might pick it up sometime down the track.
  • SunnyvaleTrash - September 1, 2011 5:50 a.m.

    I wasn't sold on the demo, and there are too many other games coming out soon that I know I will really get into. I do my best to buy and support the lower-profile games that you guys tout on here (I loved SotD, Vanquish, and Enslaved), but this doesn't interest me anywhere near as much as those.
  • Yeager1122 - August 31, 2011 9:54 a.m.

    Deosnt sound like its worth a full $60 maybe ill rent it one weekend.
  • NanoElite666 - August 31, 2011 9:52 a.m.

    The way you talk about this warehouse reminds me of a couple of the levels in Black that were particularly tough to get through, namely part of the Asylum level and the end of the last one (forget what it's called off the top of my head).
  • HaVoK308 - August 31, 2011 8:21 a.m.

    One of the few reviews for Bodycount that views the game the same as I do. It seems some cannot appreciate it for what it is, and what it's trying to accomplish. It seems, some, just want their shooters to play out like Call of Duty. That is to be expected by the younger generation who do not know any different. But, if you are over 25 and can not find enjoyment in this game you must be dead inside.
  • jake66play - August 31, 2011 7:17 a.m.

    you can try get this game for free as well as many others here, http://www.points2shop.com/?ref=jakecfc1992 , you earn points to get stuff off of amazon and so effectively you can get anything. thats wat im doing cause i played the demo and it didnt seem all that good to pay for the full game
  • darkvare - August 31, 2011 7:07 a.m.

    what deos suspect grading system means exactly?
  • Project93FTW - August 31, 2011 6:43 a.m.

    I played the demo last night, not bad but its not a game that I would pay $60. The cover art looks cool though. My First comment!
  • SerpentineZERO - August 31, 2011 6:17 a.m.

    A rental it is. I had no idea it was already coming out.
  • avantguardian - August 31, 2011 5:48 a.m.

    one of the more thorough reviews i've read in a while...and for a straight-up shooter no less! keep it up mr. towell. on a more unpleasant note, i fear this game reeks of doom covered in failure. would have benefitted from a early summer release imo. its just gonna get trounced...
  • tntbandicoot - August 31, 2011 5:44 a.m.

    Definitely have to download this!
  • AuthorityFigure - August 31, 2011 5:41 a.m.

    This game fills the hole that Duke Nukem was too limp to fill.
  • tareq - August 31, 2011 5:38 a.m.

    Cool might check this out later
  • b-dog1991 - August 31, 2011 5:35 a.m.

    The no offline multiplayer makes me a sad panda, but I think I may give this a go. Great review Justin!
  • Baron164 - August 31, 2011 5:05 a.m.

    Sounds like an interesting game,I could see myself picking this up in a few months.
  • 4fromK - August 31, 2011 4:54 a.m.

    Was sounding like a seven the whole way through - solid review