Monday, 5 September 2011

Bodycount - PS3/360

With Bodycount, Codemasters have stripped back the first-person shooter, dispensed with needless frills and delivered an explosive - but flawed - shooter.

You won't find hidden collectables, audio logs or intel documents lying about the game's levels, nor will you find the usual smattering of driving sections found in other titles. Instead, the development team have focused on gunplay, environmental damage and huge explosions, with the player tasked with taking out covert organisation Target who are stirring up trouble throughout Africa and Asia.

But while the guns on offer feel great, with the majority of the 10 varieties packing a punch, the rest of Bodycount is a mixed bag, with the game consistently struggling to deliver fresh ideas.

The open-plan exterior levels set in shanty towns, dockyards and rain-soaked city streets are a great setting for the game's explosive battles. Concrete pillars are chipped away under sustained fire, while windows are smashed and wooden walls turn to kindling as spectacular explosions rip through buildings.

But in direct contrast, the Tron-like clinical interiors of Target's bases are disappointingly similar. Essentially a series of corridors, stairwells and large rooms teeming with enemies, they lack the creative spark of the outdoor locations.

These levels also provide some of Bodycount's most frustrating moments, as mass battles kick-off, with sharp-angled - and scarily accurate - foes swarming the player, making success something of a lottery.

Luckily, downed enemies drop orbs which are used to fuel upgrade powers and careful use of these is essential if you want to survive these frantic episodes.

Although the action can be spectacular, a half-baked attempt at a combo system falls flat on its face. It's an insipid system which was presumably tacked on to try and add an extra dimension to the firefights by encouraging skillful play. However, it fails to engage or reward the player and comes up short when compared to the blistering point scoring fun of Bulletstorm.

Unfortunately, Bodycount’s issues don't stop there - the game is full of generic FPS staples, such as flicking switches, defending key points, backtracking, negotiating levels stuffed full of explosive barrels and enemy AI which is erratic at best.

Bodycount isn't a long game, either, with the closing credits rolling after 5-6 hours, but online play, a co-op option and replayable levels at least flesh out the experience.

Bodycount might be generic but there is still fun to be had shooting your way through the game’s saturated environments. It's just a shame it never reaches its true potential, leaving the player wondering what could have been.

PS3 version tested

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