Review

Bodycount Review (Xbox360)

Run to objective A. Press switch. Run to objective B. Press Switch. Run back to objective A. Defend. Run to waypoint. Run to next waypoint. Find objective C. Press switch. Shoot self in face.

Repetitive, no?

It's lucky Bodycount's single-player campaign doesn't extend past the four hour mark, or else that introduction would have swallowed up more of your time. With only a few hours to muck things up, this title still manages to be a huge disappointment. Earlier this year, we saw Bulletstorm successfully implement the 'Kill with Skill' mantra, allowing players to take down enemies with an imagination approach. Bodycount tries to do the same, but instead of entertaining energy leashes and a badass attitude, it resorts to red barrels and an identity complex.

Weapons pack a punch, but lack any inspiration

Bodycount's campaign throws up a lot of problems very quickly. It's aiming mechanic doesn't quite know whether it wants to incorporate a cover system or not, providing varied results depending on what you decide to hide behind. Holding the left trigger zooms in on your targets, while manipulating the left stick moves your body in the chosen direction. A similar mechanic barely worked for titles such as Medal of Honor: Airborne, so it's interesting to see that Codemasters felt they could rework it to their advantage. At times, it allows players to dynamically plan their attack, springing up from behind a convenient piece of protection, and popping a foe in the head before they know what's hit them. Most of the time guns interlock with the cover, resulting in a flickering of the screen that underlines the reason why nobody else has bothered to try and improve on this style of play.

The absurdness of this title continues to unravel throughout the dull narrative, a story that failed to capture my imagination at all. One minute you'll be in an abandoned train yard, fighting grunts who tattoo their faces to try and look more menacing. Being a game of of design duds, wave after wave of enemy will appear until you eventually fight the hulking foes who carry a chain gun. Okay, we see this in countless games, but when it's included without any zest or hint of sarcasm, it feels like the developers couldn't think up anything better. Place them next to the red barrels, and I can only imagine the term 'originality' is lost on the developers.

Jaunty angles are so in this year

After a dull alfresco section is complete, Bodycount places you amongst a setting that looks like it's been ripped straight from a knock-off TRON production. Hi-tech opponents appear, donning outfits that make them look like Helghast soldiers who failed to make the cut. Inside the so-called 'Nexus' building (tick another sci-fi cliché off your list), the main objectives revolve around destroying defences and stealing data from terminals. The Nexus' network is complex (and in no way takes inspiration from the Grid in TRON), forcing you to repeat the destruction tactics throughout. At one point, near the conclusion of the game, you're forced to hack information from a database. After holding down X to start, it's obvious the process is going to take a few minutes. Taking place in a large, open room, enemies swarm the area from all directions. They don't seem bothered about the leaking information, instead opting to try and shoot you down before you leave. It's minor niggles like this that add up to create something so bad, it's actually kinda funny.

Aside from the hilarious flaws, Bodycount also serves up a fair amount of frustration. For some obscene reason, enemies often spawn behind your position. Even if you've progressed out of view, they'll sprint to catch you up. This creates an inexcusable limbo that nearly always results in the same tactic: run. I managed to sprint my way through the latter levels without needing to fire anything more than two grenades, defeating the object of the game completely. The title hints that eliminating bad guys will be extremely exciting, when most of the time, it's barely even a necessity. Most of your opposition run into the same positions as peers you've just defeated, while the select few will accidently throw grenades off each other, ending in a shower of hilarity (and bodies). To top it all off, there's one mission that provides you with a silenced pistol, then lets you upgrade ten seconds later. There's no chance the level can be completed in a stealth-like manner, making the inclusion futile. I'm all for giving players options, but at no point does Bodycount need to try and dip it's toes into the world of hiding in shadows.

If you like red barrels, you still won't enjoy this much.

While there is a multiplayer section of the game, it's hardly worth mentioning. The servers are barren already, as the lure of team deathmatch or regular deathmatch hasn't encourage many to stick around. Co-op is also available, which tasks two players with defending an area against 20 waves of attacks, but it's nowhere near the quality we've seen with Halo: Reach and Gears of War 2. Codemasters have obviously taken huge inspiration from Bungie's titles too, as certain areas of the single-player campaign are riddled with nods to Halo: Combat Evolved. It's amusing that every section inside the Nexus plays like The Library, a level that still haunts me to this day.

Bodycount has been pinned as the spiritual successor to Black, but this couldn't be any further from the truth. The latter was full of quality at the end of the last generation's lifespan, while this title whimpers to a halt in a key point of 2011's gaming calendar. A lack of ideas and poor design just won't cut it in a year that sees Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare go head-to-head. There aren't many games that I want to finish after a measly four hours, so it's somewhat telling that I was high-fiving anyone and everyone when the credits lit up the screen. After pressing so many switches during the campaign, it's ironic that the most significant one turned my console off.

Top Gaming Moment: Watching a group of enemies accidently blow themselves up.

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