Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Other formats available: PS3
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: Codemasters
Price: £39.99
Website: www.bodycountgame.com
Rating: 16

It seems as if the classic shooter is moving further and further away from its roots these days, the majority of them opting for a clear storyline, and varying gameplay. There are very few shooters out there that are truly back to basics shooters, but Bodycount is one of them.

If you’re into the tactical approach, like to sneak around undetected and find clever ways of clearing your path through underground bunkers without arousing suspicion, then this probably isn’t for you.

However, for what would be the vast majority of players, that like to be dropped straight into the action from the word go, and have nothing but explosions, shoot-outs, being massively outnumbered and having the nearest thing to a bottomless clip right until the end of the mission, then read on.

Codemasters has stripped back the nonsense with its latest title and have, instead, simmered down the 'bits in between' to give gamers exactly what they’ve been asking for: fun.

From the very beginning you’re dropped into a collapsed peace talk in the middle of Africa, where you find yourself in the middle of a war between the government troops and the militia. And as you can probably imagine, your unnamed character isn’t viewed as being a friend to either of them.

The miniscule story line tries to keep an explanation as to why you’re in Africa one minute, an almost Battlestar Galactica military bunker the next and before you know it winding up in a fishing village.

It’s hard to keep track and understand exactly why this is happening, why you suddenly need to find an Army general, or kill another, and why you’re chasing after another private military contract firm. The minor objectives during each mission are more in the way than anything else, but with that said, after playing a while I found myself ignoring what was going on, and enjoying Bodycount’s main offering; shooting.

The graphics aren’t superb, but they’re not terrible either. With a game like this you’re unlikely to be admiring the scenery, as at any moment you could be attacked by what can only be described as an endless supply of enemy. Even after clearing a path for yourself you frequently find that enemy soldiers have magically appeared behind you and you find yourself in the middle of an ambush.

This is made even more difficult by the fact that pretty much everything you see can be destroyed. Enemies can pop out behind you from what previously was a solid wall and suddenly you find yourself on the back foot. This presents the issue that being in cover can very quickly turn into not being in cover.

For this reason Bodycount has a unique cover system, in that by holding down to aim you are immediately stuck still, and able to lean left and right. This took some getting used to, but when the wall you’re leaning around could disappear in the next few seconds, it’s good to be able to move again quickly, resulting in fast and smooth gameplay.

One of the main issues on many shooters is enemy AI, or the lack of it. Thankfully Bodycount doesn’t have this issue. The enemy soldiers are fast to respond, fire with relatively high accuracy, and whilst some may hold back, others will move in on your position.

The only gripe I had was that sometimes the enemy were a little too accurate, particularly throwing grenades that would inevitably land directly at my feet every time.

The main irritation for me was the enemy reactions to gunfire. The first stray bullet to hit your opponent, depending where that happened to be, will result in a Goldeneye type animation.

This could be that they’re blown backward by the blast, or that they grab their foot in agony. Either way, whilst this little drama display is going on, it’s difficult to deal any more damage, rendering the opponent practically immune until he has finished hopping on one leg.

When faced with more than one enemy, thinking you’ve taken down the first, and moving onto the second is too easily done, only for the first enemy to suddenly recover and continue firing at you. This caused particularly intense scenes to be a little frustrating and too unrealistic for my tastes. On the other hand though, it certainly presented a challenge.

There is a reasonably large arsenal that unlocks as you progress through the game, which adds to the experience, and you’re able to choose any of these to be your primary or secondary weapon.

Picking up enemy weapons doesn’t work as with many titles, but ammo and intel appear as orbs on the ground, that are drawn toward you if you need them. Intel is like the in-game energy, which can be used on four abilities that you gain throughout the game. Aside from the final one, airstrike, I found little need or use for them.

On the whole Bodycount is presented as exactly what it says on the tin. Mindless shooting, and non-stop action. The whole point is to rack up a massive bodycount, and the game certainly encourages you to do that.

It isn’t going to set the world alight, and you do feel as if you’ve done it all before, but overall the little niggles and the flat storyline are outweighed by the action scenes, and it’s certainly playable and will provide a good challenge simply by being massively outnumbered all the time, if nothing else.

Review by Partyliaison

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