The clue is in the title. Far from some earnest, grittily authentic military simulation, Bodycount is a straight-up gun-fest; a caffeine-charged bullet ballet packing the latest in destructible environment technology. %26ldquo;It%26rsquo;s a very focused, very pure shooting experience,%26rdquo; says outspoken Creative Director, Stuart Black, of Codemasters%26rsquo; new Guildford studio. %26ldquo;It%26rsquo;s all about what happens when you pull that trigger. A highly stylised orgy of shooting%26hellip;%26rdquo;
Stuart was the designer on Black %26ndash; Criterion%26rsquo;s style-obsessed PS2 shooter %26ndash; and while Bodycount shares spiritual ties, it%26rsquo;s not Black 2. It%26rsquo;s a different scenario, and an evolved take on gunplay. Codemasters has hired senior people from the Splinter Cell, Pure and Brothers in Arms teams %26ndash; creating a diverse pool of influences.
Billed as a glossy techno thriller, Bodycount follows a slick young operative carrying out missions for an agency known as The Network. %26ldquo;These are overt assassinations in global conflict zones,%26rdquo; says Black. %26ldquo;You%26rsquo;re not the kind of guy who%26rsquo;s going into Dallas to take out JFK and sneak away. You%26rsquo;re the guy who%26rsquo;ll go to Lagos and create a corridor of death 50m wide toward your target. It%26rsquo;s secretive because there%26rsquo;s no-one left to talk about it%26hellip;%26rdquo;
Your enemy is The Target, another super-rich organisation with global interests. %26ldquo;These guys are really vicious,%26rdquo; explains art director Max Cant. %26ldquo;They%26rsquo;re psychotically focused on their world vision, which is diametrically opposed to The Network%26rsquo;s. Their hardware is aggressive, angular and predatory. They%26rsquo;re going to be coming after you and they%26rsquo;re going to enjoy it. They savour the kill.%26rdquo;
Of course, when two global corporations clash it can only mean one thing: destruction. Bodycount features an advanced damage engine that lets you shatter almost everything. We got to play an early, grin-inducing, test build. Fire at a wall and chunks of plaster and brick erupt off it. Keep firing and you%26rsquo;ll wear through to the support beams. With thinner internal walls, you can blast a large hole and then run through it, adding a layer of tactical depth. We love Bad Company 2%26rsquo;s devastation, but it%26rsquo;s sign-posted %26ndash; in Bodycount, if the world is a canvas, the gun is your paintbrush.
Hands-on, it%26rsquo;s fraught and solid. Even the agile Heckler and Koch G36C assault rifle has a real solidity and ballast to it, with thunking sound effects %26ndash; feeling more like Killzone 2 or Gears Of War, than Modern Warfare%26rsquo;s lighter arsenal. Indeed, the proximity and visceral combat %26ndash; tied to the use of health packs and energy meters, instead of COD%26rsquo;s gradual recovery mechanism %26ndash; lends an almost Quake feel. Sniper rifles play a part when the environment opens up, but this still isn%26rsquo;t a camper%26rsquo;s paradise.