In Defense of Bodycount

Alex stands up for Bodycount, which he feels didn't get a fair shake.

Alex Keenby Alex Keen

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Every once in a while, a game will be crushed under middle of the road or poor reviews from a few major game reviewers.  These reviews lead to poor word of mouth that heavily influence overall sales.  Games like Brink, Blur and Stranglehold were all destroyed in such a way. The struggle of these games is even more problematic due to the modern era’s obsession with the importance of game sales instead of the joy of playing games.  When I read articles about game sales I wonder if the authors are writing for stockholders or the actual gamers who appreciate the games they play.

That’s why I’ve decided to take up the cause for yet another under-delivering game that is not as bad as you might have heard.  That game is Bodycount.  Prior to being passed a review copy of this game, I was told that early reviews were negative, that the game was generic and not worth my time.  After logging in several days worth of play, I feel comfortable writing that this game was plenty of fun and a far more enjoyable experience than I was expecting.  Bodycount has flaws, but is far from broken.

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At its core, Bodycount is an arcade shooter.  It plays similar to games like 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand, Black, and The Club, amongst others.  Players can shoot through levels slowly, taking down enemies one bullet at a time… or, they can play balls to the wall while ignoring the one or two enemies that they sprinted past on the way to the next waypoint.  Perhaps the reviewers that played this game slowly were the negative ones.  Personally, once I realized that this game was meant to played full-tilt, I had a big grin on my face for much of the time.

For the most part you’ll face off against one of five AI enemies with some boss battles tossed in for a challenge.  While it is a bit monotonous fighting the same dudes over and over, the enemies are varied enough that I had to switch gears frequently.  Plus, the level design was decent enough to insure some semblance of challenge.  

Despite the repetitive gameplay, I was thoroughly charmed by the futuristic stages within this game.  On its surface, Bodycount looks like yet another third-world clone shooter like Resident Evil or Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  Yet, in the middle of the game, some kind of spaceship entity pops up that drastically changes not only the gameplay, but the art direction as well.  Bodycount makes the leap into full-fledged Halo clone.  This tempo shift is strange at first, but welcomed after I realized these were easily the best parts of the game.  The levels were gorgeous, the animations were clever (doors were made of oversized pixels), and the light bloom added some ambient charm.  Sure, the enemies were carbon copies of one another… they still were not a pushover and required tactical attacks while madly running around the levels.

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Did I mention that the environments are highly destructive?  Unlike most games were destructive environments are just cosmetic, there are actual benefits to shooting through walls, boxes, and corners.  Not only did the environments allow for some sneaky tactics, they would shoot splinters throughout the air like fireworks set off two inches in front of my face.  It’s a cool effect that kept me engaged and entertained throughout.

The thought that resonates in my mind after playing Bodycount is that this should have been the version of Perfect Dark Zero that we got to play.  There are multiple similarities between the games including the sci-fi story and the rapid-fire action.  Unfortunately, Perfect Dark Zero’s characters ice skated through levels fighting mindless enemies without being much fun.  Bodycount also had mindless enemies but plays with enough momentum that its weaknesses became merely an afterthought.  For me, Bodycount plays at a pace and with an intensity that I wish Perfect Dark had employed.  

Look, I am not promising you that Bodycount will be one of most innovative games you will play this year.  However, I do believe that there is definite value to picking this game up and blasting through a couple hours of gameplay.  Bodycount provided me with tons of fun and I think shooter fans looking for some non-stop action will be pleased after giving this game a run-through.