I suspect I wouldn't have quite so many issues with "Bodycount" if it had just been released as a budget title. A $19.99 price tag would make up for many of its sins.
But no, this substandard shooter is retailing for $59.99, the same price as most top tier games. It's unconscionable.
A gamer's $60 should buy them a golden ticket to a magical realm, one so enchanting that even though it's 3 in the morning and they know they should put the controller down and go to bed, they have to see what happens next, so they keep playing until the sun comes up again.
You won't get that with "Bodycount."
What you will get is a story so poorly told, so barely there, that it hardly even qualifies for the appellation "story." What you'll get are cookie-cutter battles against poorly scripted AI opponents amid nondescript locales. What you'll get is a barebones multiplayer game that almost nobody is playing.
In other words, what you'd get is nothing close to $60 worth of game.
Let's start with how ridiculously bad, illogical, contrived and generic the "story" is.
The player is some guy devoid of any personality whatsoever -- an agent for a group called the Network doing battle against a supposedly evil organization called the Target. Great names huh?
The first part of this battle takes the player to a fictitious country in Africa where a civil war has erupted, supposedly at the Target's behest. The player's stated job is to figure out why the war started and bring things to a peaceful resolution.
And apparently the best way of doing that, according to the game makers, is to kill everyone you see on both sides of the conflict. Sure, doing so is always the most sure-fire way to promote world peace. Right?
Frankly, as I said in this other article, this part of the game could be seen as racially insensitive. All the player is doing is shooting virtual representations of black people, without any mitigating circumstances. In other words, these black characters aren't depicted as bad or evil. They're just in the player's way.
Later, at least, the game does a little better on the racial front. The action moves to fictitious Asia, where the enemy is an Asian drug gang (Look! A moral distinction!) and the raceless soldiers of Target.
Enough about the so-called story though. Let's talk action.
"Bodycount" attempts to have some. And if your idea of a good time is mowing down waves of opponents who blindly charge forward, run scripted routes before turning around to fight or who lose track of where you are when you are standing right in front of them, well here's the game for you. Now go away, because all of that is horrible.
Honestly, the enemies' AI is so bad that I've seen several dozen of them commit suicide with their own grenades. It gets to be hilarious by the end of the game, but it's definitely not a good thing.
Of course, other than their own incompetence, the main way to kill these guys is by shooting them with guns. "Bodycount" has guns aplenty. Generic, functional guns like machine guns and shotguns, as well as a useless silenced pistol. But no sniper rifles -- for the player, at least -- or bigger, flashier things like RPGs.
It's OK though. You'll never run out of bullets -- unless you deliberately aim at the sky and fire off all you've got. But how likely are you to do that?
In "Bodycount," every time you kill someone, they drop a bunch of brightly colored orbs, including ones that represent ammo. If you are anywhere close to the orbs, they'll float toward you to be absorbed and, bibbity-bobbity-boo, you've got full ammo, as well as tons of grenades and landmines.
You also collect orbs called "info orbs." These charge up a meter that lets you use special powers you gradually acquire through the game. The first power makes you damage resistant. The second makes your bullets all explodey. The third allows you to more easily see enemy snipers, and the fourth allows you to call in airstrikes. The latter is the only one that is actually necessary in the game, and none of it is particularly original.
Now, I will actually compliment "Bodycount" on two things.
The first is a somewhat novel aiming/cover system. When a player holds down the button to call up "iron sights" for more accurate aiming down the length of the gun, he also activates the cover system, where manipulation of the left stick allows one to lean left or right to fire from behind cover -- or duck down for safety.
It's a more elegant system than what you find in many other games.
Also, "Bodycount" does some decent work with destructible objects. Bullets will shred cover appropriately. It's not even slightly new, but it's decently done here. Unlike most of the rest of the game.
Yes, "Bodycount" does have a multiplayer mode that supposedly could be used to extend the life of the game. There's the usual deathmatch and team deathmatch games. And a co-op mode I couldn't find anyone to play with me. That's it. None of it is worth the entry fee.
Frankly, I don't really understand how or why this game was ever made.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3. Reviewed on Xbox 360 using a free copy sent for my use.
Rating: M for mature.
Recommendation: It's short, boring and unpleasant with a story barely worth the name. Avoid it. Don't rent it, and certainly don't buy it.