Back when I was in high school, my buddies and I would lend each other our PS2 games. We would gather up the discs we played until our hearts were content, and pass them along so we could try out new stuff. It was a sweet experience that allowed me to try out a wide range of titles that I would have never given the light of day.
One of these titles was Black.
Developed by Criterion Games and published by EA, Black was a first-person shooter that seeped style and class. Action-packed and cinematic, the game blew me away. Destructive environments, loud, gorgeous guns that had weight and power, and a soundtrack that made me feel like a secret agent; the game had it all.
So naturally, I became a fan, and I dreamed of a next-generation sequel.
And that’s where Bodycount comes in. Developed by Guildford Studios (composed of the team that made Black) and published by Codemasters, Bodycount was the spiritual successor to Black. It promised to be one hell of a thrill ride, a virtual symphony of destruction.
Sadly, the game didn’t live up to the hype.
After finally (a couple months later?) getting a hold of it, I found myself sorely disappointed. It’s not a bad game per se, just a badly executed one: It has the occasional fun, edge-of-your-seat moment, but the overall package is just too bland to warrant a purchase.
The game has its moments. When its perfectly channeling its predecessor, it feels like Black all over again. And in some ways, it even improves upon the older game.
Seventeen colorful missions act as explosive playgrounds where the player may reach their destination through a wide variety of paths. Want to charge into battle guns blazing against two warring factions that are engaged in the main street? You could do that. Or you could take the stealthier route through some battered and broken buildings on the side and pick off any survivors along the way. You have options.
The game also serves you a nice selection of guns that pack a punch. Ranging from standard assault rifles to experimental weaponry, each weapon in the game has its own feel and weight, making each gun interesting and unique. It’s quite a blast to mow down enemy after enemy with these guns, and you’ll really never run out of ammunition as the game is pretty generous with providing it after taking out your foes. The game also controls well, so you’ll never have a problem shooting down your attackers.
And then there are the special abilities, which augment your character in a variety of ways. Bullets can be temporarily souped up to cause more damage, you can give yourself a shot to become quick and react faster, your radar can highlight enemies behind cover, and you can even summon a barrage of missiles to rain down upon your enemy.
And thats when the fun stuff pretty much ends.
First of all, the story is non-existent. Sure, there’s a underlying bare-bones story about a guy who’s a mercenary and has to save the world, but it’s pretty much crap. It makes no real sense.
The levels, although colorful and spacious, are pretty bland and forgettable. The graphics aren’t really up to par with whats coming out these days, sometimes looking like a PS2 game. They tend to drag on, tasking you to go from point A to point B, with no real purpose other than shooting a couple dozen of baddies. Also, despite having seventeen missions, you’ll frequent the same locations over and over and over, making it seem like the developers extended the game time by putting the missions and objectives on repeat. (I looking at you, Target Nexus!) You’ll be asking yourself “Didn’t I just complete this mission?” a couple of times, wondering why you’re putting an effort to play the game.
The destructibility of the environments is overrated. Despite the claim that nearly everything in-game was destructible, I found it to be untrue. Red Faction this is not. Certain objects like glass and planks of wood would come apart and splinter when shot at, and red barrels would conveniently blow apart the walls they were placed against, but when I approached other surfaces and shot at them, some would only chip and spray dust infinitely, never to be reduced to pieces. There were many set pieces I thought I could destroy, only to find that I couldn’t.
Character models are also repeated frequently, only distinguishable by the faction they belong to. Occasionally you’ll see a tougher enemy that’ll look different, but otherwise you’ll be seeing a lot of clones here and there.
Due to these issues, I found myself not really enjoying the game, and playing through it only because of the fondness I held for the source material. I avoided as many gunfights as I could just so I could rush through the game as quickly as possible and return it to the store. I didn’t even bother to check out the multiplayer modes, expecting the same thing. Bummer.
Despite having classic first-person shooter mechanics and a couple of fun guns, Bodycount is sadly a no go, providing hour upon hour of boredom. There are better shooters around that you can buy. (If you can, try Black!)
Images obtained from Bodycount’s official website, bodycountgame.com