DISCLAIMER: This entire thing was based off one playthrough that I skipped the cutscene of and didn’t investigate too much into, mainly because it’s a fucking shooter, and how complex can it really be. Sorry if I’m horrifically wrong about things, but I guess this would be a kind of “average gamer” look at things.
How can you go wrong with a name like Bodycount? Say that to anyone and instantly you’ve injected their mind with violent images of piles of carcasses while a man with a large machine gun stands over them, possibly with a cigar in his mouth, screaming about how other people might want to “get some”. Apply that to a video game and you expect something along the lines of, say, Timesplitters, where running and gunning was the aim and stopping to ask the way was basically out of the question.
So, enter Bodycount, a shooter developed by Codemasters. Wait, Codemasters? They do racing games, don’t they? Well, ya know, Criterion do racing games but they did Black, and that was pretty sweet. Bizarre Creations may be famous for PGR but they also made The Club! …Ok, bad example. Well, there was shooting in James Bond: Blood Stone? …Ok yeah.
Still, racing developer plus shooting IP suggests fast paced kill fest, right? That’s certainly what we’ve been promised from every piece of literature shoved out about it. Needless to say I was getting pretty excited, right up until the demo came out and I spent about five minutes playing it to reach its conclusion.
And so, I take us to our first point of order:
1. It’s too short
The thing that makes racing games tense and exciting is that the races last about five minutes, meaning you’ve got to give it your all to come out on top. The thing that makes gunfights tense and exciting is that they last much, much longer, throwing you into impossible odds and seeing if you come out alive. Do these two types of excitement go hand in hand? Nope!
Other than the hour and a half long break I took to grab lunch and watch a film, the Bodycount demo took me around about five minutes to complete, during which time I felt no impending danger, nor did I feel challenged, and it certainly wasn’t tense. Everything went by so quickly that I barely had time to recognise it as an event, and when I completed the level I felt a little ripped off. How had it taken three hours to download a 1.45GB demo that lasted five minutes?
And after those five minutes, why was I immediately kicked to the Game Library? Do you not want me to play it again, Codemasters? Are you really that aware of how boring your game is?
2. The crosshair is in the wrong place
Here’s a little picture to demonstrate where a crosshair should be on a screen.
Slap bang in the middle, yes? That’s where I’d be aiming if I was firing a weapon, directly ahead of me. Where does Bodycount put the crosshair? About halfway between the middle and the bottom of the screen.
Now, I appreciate the crotch shot as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous. Is my character too lazy to hold his gun up properly? Is that why I have to start looking at the sky to hit an enemies chest area? I’m running and gunning! I don’t have time to constantly readjust my sight so I can do one or the other!
3. Ironsights make you stand still
The following is an extract from a meeting of the designers behind Bodycount.
LEAD DESIGNER: So, guys, Bodycount’s shaping up to be a balls-to-the-wall action game like no other. But we’re still missing that one killer feature that’ll really set us apart. Steve, whaddya got?
STEVE, JUNIOR DESIGNER: Alright, you know how every other shooter has ironsights?
LEAD: Ok, ironsights, I’m feeling it, keep it coming.
STEVE: Well, how likely is it that someone would be looking down the sights of their gun while running? That’s just so unrealistic!
LEAD: Yes, realism, I love it!
STEVE: So, my idea is, how about, when the player uses ironsights, we force them to stand still, and instead of moving, they can only lean left and right!
LEAD: LEANING! Genius! No other shooter on the market has that! It’s fresh! Innovative! Someone give this guy a promotion! Wait, yes, Frank, you’ve got your hand up?
FRANK, KNOWS WHAT MAKES VIDEO GAMES WORK: Um, this is supposed to be a crazy shooter, right? Like, bullets flying everywhere, racking up combos and points from killing people, basically a little bit of a rip-off of Bulletstorm, yeah?
LEAD: Get to the point, Frank.
FRANK: Well, why are we making our player stop? They’re supposed to be running and gunning, aren’t they?
LEAD: Frank, Frank, buddy. You’ve been in the game too long. You’re stuck in a rut! You’ve played too many games where the player never stops to use their ironsights! We’re trying to keep it original and exciting!
FRANK: But the reason why ironsights don’t force you to stop is so you can aim better and not end up being riddled with bullets from enemies you can’t see, thanks to the fact you’re looking down the sights.
STEVE: Yeah, and that’s why the player is smart enough to use cover! And then they can lean around it to shoot enemies!
LEAD: See, Frank! Steve here knows what it’s about!
FRANK: But the environment is destructible! Cover is only there for a few seconds before it’s blown to smithereens! And people are supposed to be going through the levels quickly! How can they be quick when they’re standing still!
LEAD: Frank, maybe you should go outside for a minute, cool off, ya know?
FRANK: NO! You know what? Fuck this company! You’re all a bunch of fucking morons! I hope this game bombs!
Frank storms out of the room. There is a moment of silence.
LEAD: So, everyone on board with the ironsights?
EVERYONE: Oh yeah, definitely.
4. The environment isn’t destructible enough
I love Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The fact you can destroy the walls on buildings, rendering cover useless, is just fucking cool. Shit blows up faster than you can say “INCOMING!” And Bodycount promised destructible environments, too!
Except, when the game told me to destroy the walls to a building, it didn’t inform me that I had to shoot specific walls. Apparently, the wall I was shooting wasn’t destructible, no matter how many bullets I put into it, causing me to die. Twice. Gee, thanks for letting me know that some walls are more equal than others, guys.
5. You don’t know when you’re about to die
Most modern shooters will, when the player is presented with death, give some sort of graphical clue as to how far away from meeting your maker you are. Whether it’s the screen filling up with red or turning black and white, the sound of your heart pounding in your chest, or your breath growing heavy and laboured, you usually know when the Reaper will be turning up.
Not on Bodycount! Nope, death is as much as surprise as it is to a man who’s just been hit by a bus. One minute you’re alive, the next you’re being given the option to load your last checkpoint. I tried looking around the screen for a health bar and came up with nothing. But even if there was one, there’s no alarm, no visual cue, nothing. Just life, then death. Maybe it’s a statement about the suddenness of arriving at the afterlife. Or maybe the developers are just fucking lazy.
6. It doesn’t make sense, and not even in a cool hipster way
killer7 makes no sense, and that game’s fucking awesome. Viva Pinata makes no sense, and it’s great fun. Bodycount makes no sense, and it’s just stupid. Why is ammo just orange circles with a bullet in the middle? Is this actually a virtual environment? Who are scavengers and what intel are they stealing? Which things on the floor are intel? Is my ammo actually intel? Am I being outfitted with words instead of bullets, like some Fall Out Boy song? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!
7. It’s trying really hard to be Bulletstorm, but it isn’t willing to be as juvenile
I loved Bulletstorm! Juvenile humour, killing dicks, blood everywhere, fucking great! And the number of different ways to kill enemies was unparalelled! Headshots? Check! Launch a firework up their arse? Check! Shoot them in the nuts, then kick their head so hard that it explodes! Check!
So, what crazy kinds of skillshots can you do in Bodycount? Well, you can kill someone with an explosion, or kill them with an explosion when you’re almost dead, or headshot them, or headshot them when you’re almost dead, or kill them with the last bullet in the clip, or… actually that’s all I got. Literally five different skillshots, and all of them unoriginal and dull. Well done guys!
8. Reloading isn’t automatic
You know when you run out of ammo firing a gun? First thoughts usually go along the lines of “shit, better reload!” right? Not for the character in Bodycount! Nope, keep your finger down on the right trigger and after blazing through a clip, your guy will just stand there, dumbfounded at the prospect of putting more bullets into his gun, until you either press the reload button or let go of the right trigger, and then press it again.
Why? This is nursery school shit, guys! I’m running and gunning, I don’t have time to think about letting go of “SHOOT” so you can reload for me! It’s so counter-intuitive to the running and gunning mindset!
9. Your character doesn’t fall, he floats
So, there we have it. Absolutely everything that is wrong with the five minute demo of Bodycount I played. Hope this informed you of every possible reason to NOT give it a try.