Developer: Guildford Studio |
Publisher: Codemasters
Players: 1+ Player Game |
Genre: First Person Shooter

Release Date: TBA 2011

Stuart Black makes his obsession with shooting stuff well known during a live gameplay demonstration of Bodycount, the spiritual successor to the famed fetish FPS: Black.

With an assault rifle that can go on shooting forever with its 90 round clip, the game’s lead developer starts to slowly blast away pieces of a wooden crate. Each piece chewed away by searing lead is used as a metaphor for the story revelations dropped for the player as they kill their way to the core of the mysterious tale, inspired by the likes of famous television thrillers such as Lost.

After using a gun to explain how the game`s story worked, I knew Black was serious about bullets.

Bodycount places gamers in the role of Jackson Delgado, an operative for a secret organization called The Network, which is at war with another faction known as Target. Black describes the latter as vile neo-nazis who deserve every bullet Delgado sends their way.

The main purpose behind the gameplay demonstration we saw was to illustrate just how much emphasis is placed on the idea of decimating nearly every square inch of the game’s world. In the level we saw, Delgado was inserted into a fictionalized African city, deep within a filthy shanty town. Because of the flimsy nature of the dwellings, they could be chewed to pulp. This makes for plenty of hairy situations, since no form of cover lasts for more than a few seconds, but also allows players to create their own doorways through structures to flank the enemy.

Pieces of concrete, metal and other debris constantly erupt into the air, much like the lobby shootout scene from the Matrix. Except this amount of environmental carnage makes that iconic scene look trivial. Bodycount does not take itself seriously and it’s something that Black is proud of. While other shooters seek to completely replicate reality, Bodycount is perfectly happy with radicalizing it.

Working his way through the shacks, Delgado came across local milita members and soldiers of Target. Both were engaging each other, making for some interesting three way firefights. Thanks to being able to carry up to a thousand rounds of ammunition, players have the luxury of never letting up on their enemies, and can just pour on the bullets. Most of the weapons found in Bodycount are based on real world firearms, however we were told a couple of highly exotic ones be later introduced for even more reckless destruction.

Fallen foes will also bleed out intel points, which can then be used to cash in on rewards such as predator missile strikes and min gun runs from a helicopter. Unfortunately we weren’t able to witness any such sequences in our demo.

When it came time for us to actually put our hands on the game, Bodycount’s need for more development work became evident. The aiming controls feel sluggish at the moment, and enemies don’t work very hard to stay away from your line of fire. The world also appears to be devoid of any dynamic lighting, hurting the visual quality. Of course the game isn’t slated to ship until the spring of next year, so some of these missing elements are to be expected.

Like many games these days, Bodycount will also be receiving post launch downloadable content. What it will be, the designers aren’t saying. However, it will open up new head-spinning twist in the story, as well as new gameplay mechanics in the game’s multiplayer modes.

Currently, we’re aware of adversarial and cooperative modes. The cooperative story will not be a part of the main campaign, but will place you in the shows of two other anonymous characters. This was done for the sake of preserving the intricate plot of the single player, which is meant to be centred around Delgado alone. While the designers haven’t made up their minds on how Bodycount’s competitive play will work, they say any type of objective mode would embrace the fundamental idea of shredding the environment to pieces.

Bodycount’s concept for an over-the top boom fest is certainly appealing. Many shooters these days neglect to fully embrace the imaginative mayhem this genre is capable of, so it’s nice to see a game going in this direction. All it has to do now is properly execute its high ideals for excessive action and suspenseful storytelling.

By Mark Melnychuk – 06/17/10

Screenshots for E3 2010 Bodycount