E3 2011: Bodycount preview – Can this destruction-minded shooter bullseye the Call of Duty crowd?

Spiritual successor to Black shoots to kill, but does it have the caliber to bring its target down?

Bodycount is the type of game that might be getting front-page attention in the game industry if it weren%26rsquo;t for hundred-million dollar shooters like Halo and Call of Duty. Next to those kind of giants, it%26rsquo;s tough for a smaller-budget title like Bodycount to establish itself. But its heart is in the right place, and for those with a love of destruction (and the Xbox/PS2 shooter Black, this game%26rsquo;s elder brother), Bodycount may have even more to offer than its herculean competitors.

Bodycount%26rsquo;s main focus is on a mechanic the developers call %26ldquo;shredding%26rdquo;, which is essentially environmental destruction. The idea is that guns and explosions can blast through surfaces to allow you to create interesting new gameplay through your creativity in how you manage the destructibility of the level. It can create new paths etc. However, the destruction can be very limited, and sometimes it%26rsquo;s clear that only certain surfaces can be destroyed. So rather than giving you free reign to plow a straight line through the level, you%26rsquo;re instead confined to a set of potential paths. It%26rsquo;s nice, to be sure, and it%26rsquo;s certainly preferable to walking down a straight path and holding the trigger mindlessly, but you%26rsquo;ve got to manage your expectations.

Bodycount also has some fairly high quality aesthetics %26ndash; at least, some of the time. Because this is still under construction, it%26rsquo;s tough to tell what the final graphical standards will be. We%26rsquo;re hoping the levels all look like the African levels, which are hued in a sort of dusty sepia, and we%26rsquo;re hoping the character models are all as huge, tattooed, and very well sculpted as the ones we saw. But there are other levels, such as one that takes place in a robotics center, that don%26rsquo;t look nearly as good at this point. They%26rsquo;re non-stop hallways of neon blue that don%26rsquo;t seem to leverage the environmental destruction in any meaningful way. Hopefully, those will get spruced up before the game%26rsquo;s release.

Jun 15, 2011

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