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Bodycount E3 2011 Hands-On Preview

Bodycount does actually have a plot behind all the shooting. The story follows former American soldier Jackson who is employed by “The Network”, an Illuminati style group that fights battles for governments that would otherwise be deemed politically incorrect if carried out officially. Another agency, “The Target” soon becomes apparent and is revealed as the real enemy. A conspiracy story then, but that’s the last Deus Ex reference to make since the focus from here on is purely on first-person gun shooting. There are two special features that the developer was keen to point out: environment shredding at a local level and a new approach to the cover system.

Bodycount

Environmental shredding is supposed to simulate walls and cover being torn to shreds as bullets fly. In reality this didn’t appear to be as revolutionary as it sounds. Chunks are punched out of cover such as wood but it still looked a bit clumsy and much of the cover we experienced was of the impenetrable type anyway. When behind cover the right analogue stick, when used with the left trigger, is used to control the static position of the player. Holding the stick down slides behind the cover and then when the stick is moved up-left or -right the body of the screen leans above the cover with iron-sights in the direction pointed, with the left stick then used to aim. We quickly got the hang of this system and, while it felt like an improvement over a normal FPS cover system, again it is not ground-breaking.

Bodycount

Regardless of the two new minor gameplay mechanics this is a first-person shooter which is all about guns, so Bodycount has to get the basics right to last as a likable title. We played two missions and our overall experience was a lacklustre one. The first mission was set inside a high tech Target base where we had to obtain some intelligence and then escape against a timer before the place blew to smithereens. Despite the namesake and having a counter on the HUD for the number of foes killed, there were actually relatively few enemies to deal with, which is probably a good thing since the combat was repetitive despite the various efforts made to spice-up the gameplay.

Bodycount

The guns look, sound and feel standard but were annoyingly ineffective against the opponents we faced. Further to this, frustratingly a group of enemy soldiers may also contain a medic who will revive downed comrades. Player health is regenerative which does compliment the cover system rather well, but the AI tended not to use cover and often stood as a group out in the open which simply encouraged a well placed grenade. We progressed through the level, managed to steal the intel and then sprinted to the escape with marginal time to spare. At the end of a level a rating is given for speed, combo’s and the like, with an online leaderboard promised for comparison of scores. There will also be online multiplayer, and although details are still scarce there will be Deathmatch modes and some sort of co-op has also been confirmed.

Bodycount

The second mission we played took us to Africa where the developer was keen to point out they had made full use of the colour palette throughout the game. Bodycount is a back-to-basics shooter but this is still a somewhat bizarre quality to be proud of if you ask us, as indeed is how the fallen enemies disintegrate into multi-coloured pickups. In the African mission we started by being assaulted by a mini-gun toting tattooed chap who tore through the side of our wooden hut. This guy can take a lot of damage but we placed a bunch of mines in front of him which he was more than happy to toddle through and die.

Bodycount

A battle between different factions was going on around us but this coupled with the level design was simply confusing, and the developer seemed keen to point us along the right path. While we encourage open environments it’s still nice to know where exactly you’re supposed to be headed. The bright outside streets was at least an improvement on the last mission and we did have some fun blasting our way through up to a crane, where we had to plant some charges and then defend them from a number of oncoming enemies. After a fire-fight, which largely involved shooting enemies down the straight line of the crane, we were successful in our mission which completed the play-test.

Bodycount

Unfortunately, apart from shooting walls from behind cover there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to be excited about in Bodycount. The combat becomes fast and explosive but is done a lot better in games that offer more than just shooting. The story sounds remotely promising but the gameplay was just too hurried to be able to really appreciate what was actually going on. It might just have been the appointment but from our play-test the gameplay just didn’t flow well enough and fun was hard to extract. FPS games are becoming more realistic and varied all the time and Bodycount feels stuck in the past. It is sadly ironic then that Bodycount would be more fun if played shooting the environments with no enemies in. Regrettably Bodycount probably isn’t a title to keep a trained eye on when released on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in August 2011.

POBmaestro | 25th June, 2011

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