- Publisher: Codemasters
- Developer: Guildford Studio
- ESRB Rating: “M" for Mature
- Genre: FPS
- Pros: Nice visuals; lots of explosions
- Cons: Short single-player; dumb A.I.; bland gameplay; repeating environments; not enough "stuff"; barebones multiplayer
In Bodycount, you play as an agent for a mysterious group known as The Network. You are sent in to third-world warzones to try and end wars by any means necessary. You aren't on anyone's side - so everyone shoots at you - and just look for the fastest and easiest ways to end the wars. Usually by killing important leaders. A rival corporation - one with super powered weapons and soldiers - soon makes an appearance and discovering who and what they are becomes your priority.
Honestly, though, the story isn't nearly as interesting as all that. You really are just shooting anything that moves and the actual story is pretty inconsequential. The single-player takes less than six hours to beat and jumps between the same bare handful of maps over and over again (African city, underground base, Ease Asian city, etc.) and many of them are actually used more than once.
That is a problem because under the skillshot stuff, Bodycount is a pretty mediocre shooter all around. Enemy A.I. is absolutely braindead and will either stand around and wait for you to shoot them, or they'll run single file down hallways or into doorways so you can easily kill them one after the other. The weapons you get to use don't help things much either. Aside from the neat weapon I mentioned above, everything else is just generic pistols, a shotgun, a couple assault rifles, and some SMGs. There are only around 10 weapons in total, which is pretty sad considering you'll only want to actually use 3-4 of them. Enemies also react strangely to being shot and it is hard to tell if you made a killshot or if the enemy is just stumbling around, so there were several times I ran past enemies I though were dead only to have them shoot me in the back. The melee attack also deserves some ire because it doesn't work a lot of the time. Enemies just run through your knife attack unscathed more often than not.
In the end, the core mechanics aren't bad - the shooting actually feels fine - but it is everything else that drags the game down to mediocrity. The same levels get reused over and over. The missions are boring (literally only variations of "kill this guy", "stand in one place to hack this terminal", and "protect this room from enemies"). The A.I. is bad. The weapons are bland. The skillshot gimmick is shallow and uninteresting. The story is poorly told. Even the good parts - lots of strategically placed explosive barrels and some decent destructible environments - are easily bested by similar features in other games. There is just nothing really noteworthy here.
This extends to the multiplayer as well. If this were 1999, the multiplayer offerings might be interesting. But in 2011, only having basic deathmatch and team deathmatch modes on 4 maps is pretty darn pathetic. Finding an online game, even at launch, is tough. Seems no one is interested.
One thing Bodycount does have going for it is decent visuals. The environments (all three of them) look decent with the sterile and futuristic looking underground bunkers really standing out compared to the gritty and more realistic outdoor levels. The explosions are nice, as are the destructible environments.
Big booming explosions and loud gunfire is pretty much all you need to know about the sound. These are good things, by the way.
The hype for Bodycount originally came from the fact that Stuart Black, creator of the PS2/Xbox FPS Black, was leading the dev team. About a year before release, though, Black left the company to work on something else (maybe because he knew Bodycount wasn't turning out so good) so if you are expecting the next coming of "Black", prepare for disappointment. Ultimately, Bodycount is a thoroughly mediocre game. It isn't horribly broken or anything, but it doesn't do anything new or fresh or interesting to make you want to play it and also suffers from a definite lack of content. A less than 6 hour campaign with only a handful of locations, only ten weapons, and a barebones multiplayer that is pretty much DOA (no one is playing at launch, and I wouldn't expect many people to play in the future) means there is very little value here. I will say, though, that if you are looking for a mindless shooter and want to pick up some easy achievements (600+ GamerScore just for beating the campaign) give it a rental. I can't recommend it for a purchase for full MSRP, but it'll be an okay bargain bin pickup in a few months.