E3 2010: Bodycount boasts the strangest inspirations

Kicking off a demo of his new first-person shooter Bodycount, creative director Stuart Black of Codemasters' Guildford Studio tears into a list of influences that become more and more disparate with each passing name or work. Blade Runner. Lady Gaga. J.J. Abrams. Comic writer Garth Ennis. It's a frankly unexpected start to an E3 demo, but Bodycount is clearly a game that aims to be as quirkily intense as its creator.

Above: Standing directly in front of the guy with the minigun is not advised

Once upon a time, Black (the man)shepherded the development of Criterion Games' last-gen shooter, Black, but now is working to give Codemasters a presence in the first-person market with this original entry, and its compelling premise. Bodycount's campaign is split into a season of television-like "episodes," which tell the story of a mysterious organization (The Network) and hero Jackson Delgado, who was plucked from an ordinary life and offered a sweet gig blasting folks to kingdom come. Naturally, he accepted without... you know, finding out the details of the position, and now finds himself fighting to discover just what the hell is going on.

We didn't get much of a chance to see the aforementioned influences in action, but the bit of the campaign we played found Delgado filling various human foes with copious shells, all while using an unusualcover system. Holding the left trigger puts you in a crouch-like position behind any nearby cover or debris, and from there you can use the left analog stick to peek out in any direction, giving you a chance to pop out and surprise enemies with ease. However, hyper-detailed damage modeling - to the point that crates and other objects can be decimated with surprising precision - make it difficult to stay behind cover for long.

Above: Shooting a man who's about to eat an explosion with his face seems wasteful

Also interesting are the glowing intel icons that explode forth from fallen enemies, not only giving you currency to upgrade weapons and call in air strikes, but also a definitive visual cue that an opponent is good and dead. Black says the single-player campaign is set in a series of interconnected stages, and Delgado will receive objectives and assignments via a PDA display and the sultry, unidentified female voice in his headset.

But Bodycount offers more than just a solo experience, as a separate co-op campaign - currently set for two players, though four is under consideration - offers additional insight into the game's backstory, and a 12-player team deathmatch mode is also in the works for this early 2011 release.

The first-person shooter market is incredibly crowded, but with arcade-style action and an intriguing premise behind the action, we'll be keeping a closer eye on Bodycount as it progresses towards completion. But Black isn't content to just promise one forthcoming shooter - he says the game will end with a "big reveal" that will set up the narrative and gameplay evolutions in a potential sequel, and that the intended follow-up will also feature a more robust multiplayer approach.

What a card. Man, give us the first game before talking up another!

Jun 17, 2010

Andrew Hayward
Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at http://andrewhayward.org.