With the gaming industry, especially the First Person Shooter genre, heavily dominated by titles such as Call of Duty and Halo, it makes you wonder if there is room at the top for another big name title. Unfortunately, while Bodycount does think outside the box with its gameplay aspects, it just isn’t going to hold a candle to the other big name titles on the market.
In Bodycount, you play as a nameless protagonist that works for a group called The Agency. Truth be told, that’s about all that you learn in the game. You can draw your own conclusions as the game progresses as to why you are fighting your way through countless amounts of soldiers and rebel fighters, but the storyline itself is lacks any major substance. You are guided throughout a series of missions by a worker at The Agency that will give you tips and tidbits that will lead you from waypoint to waypoint as well as make plenty of obvious statements that will most likely annoy you. Granted, when we go back in time and compare it to past FPS titles that have used such an element (Halo certainly stands out with Cortana), we have received plenty of information about the storyline as the counterpart usually has a major piece of information depending on the situation as well as the point of the game you are at. The problem with Bodycount is that there is no conversation going on. The woman who is guiding you is just randomly commenting on the situation, and that does little to add to the depth of a game.
The gameplay itself is everywhere from above average to downright frustrating. There are plenty of little elements that make sense, such as the vast array of weapons that you can access via a weapons cache that will be accessible at the beginning of most every mission. It also makes perfect sense to only be able to carry two weapons at a time, and that is certainly the case here. The actual mechanics that are used to take on the enemies aren’t really that bad. There will be a lot of run and gun type situations that you get yourself into, which I believe is the shining point of the gameplay. A good FPS needs to be judged on how easily you slip into the configuration of your weapons, and while it does take a little time to adjust to what Codemasters put together, you’ll find yourself working the controls smoothly by the end of the first mission.
Where Bodycount starts to suffer is with just about every other aspect of the gameplay. Codemasters was thinking outside the box with the secondary aspects of the game, which I can appreciate, but it doesn’t mean that the change itself is very good. For instance, when you go into a scoped view, you are not going to be able to strafe back and forth. The style that you have to deal with is that you will be in a standing position and moving the analog stick left or right will make your character lean that direction instead of strafing. While some may look at this and believe it is a bit more realistic, what I would have loved to see with this was a mixture of the two: Give gamers their strafing when you are standing up and make them lean side to side when you are kneeling. That is far more believable and you get the outside-the-box nod with a nice changeup in your gameplay.
The AI in Bodycount is also all over the place. There are times where you are going to notice that enemies will flat out not stop coming onto the screen. For example, a few missions in, you can take a high vantage point over an open area and notice that there is a firefight going on between the two rebel forces that are fighting each other. It’s a great opportunity to take them both out and move on, or so it would seem. Taking cover behind a raised portion of a platform, I managed to scope and kill every single soldier involved in the fight for a total of seven kills. I exited the scoped move and went to move on, only to find that more soldiers had come to take their places and resume the firefight that had just been going on. Testing out the theory that soldiers were either immortal or infinite in number, I picked off the soldiers on just one side of the firefight. The other side practically stood their ground and waited for the soldiers to be replaced and just continue on. This kind of AI absolutely frustrates me. Instead of rewarding a player for having the ability to eliminate the threat before directly getting involved, you are punished because you are simply wasting your ammo. The only way to progress through that portion of the mission was to jump down into the area and run and gun through the enemies. The game is basically telling you that there is no reason for you to try and develop long distance elimination skills, and that is unacceptable.
Another frustrating portion of the gameplay was the dropping of ammunition by enemies and the process in which you collect it. Usually you have to run over a piece of ammo in order to add it to your inventory. This is a very simple idea and should be the way that all modern-style FPS games should follow. Bodycount, however, believes that your character has an invisible magnet in his body. Getting just close enough to ammo that you need is good enough, causing the ammo to actually slide over to you as if being pulled over by a magical force. A word of the wise to developers of future FPS games: Unless you actually state that your game is set in the far off future and the technology has been developed at that time where your gun can actually absorb the ammo, this is a very bad idea. It takes away from the difficulty of the game and frustrates people to no end. On top of this, not only is the ammo going to come to you, but it will have a very large icon above it to attempt to tell you what gun it goes to. However, I have no idea what any of them mean because there is no description of it anywhere. They are color coded with different shapes and that’s about the end of the explanation.
Moving on to multi-player was possibly the hardest thing to do with Bodycount. I say that not because I enjoyed the campaign mode, but only because nobody was playing the multiplayer. For three consecutive nights, I logged onto Xbox Live via Bodycount in an effort to find an online match. Only on the third night did I manage to find a match, and even then it was only four people. I had to double check my settings to see if I had it on something that limited my search for specific styles of matches, but that wasn’t the case. Simply put, there just aren’t that many people playing this game online. That being said, my multi-player experience was average at best. Once inside the multiplayer map, which actually had a very good layout with plenty of places to hide and ambush your opponents, I found that reloading is possibly the worst thing you can do in this game. When you reload in an online match, your character will randomly shout out “CHANGING MAG!” or “RELOADING!” as he fumbles his way through the process of reloading the gun. I had hoped that the shouting was only heard on my end, but it didn’t take long to figure out that everyone’s character did this, and it was a dead giveaway as to the direction of where your competition was at. To be clear, this was not a team mode, but a free-for-all style match where it was every man for himself. I could make the argument that yelling out these pointless statements would be okay for a team deathmatch, letting your team members know that you aren’t able to fight for roughly two to three seconds as you reload, but even then it doesn’t make any sense. Are you really going to care if your teammate is reloading when you are playing? I didn’t think so.