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E3 2010: Bodycount (Impressions)

Posted by: Tina at 6/24/2010 9:37 PM
At first glance you can call Bodycount a first-person shooter. Its basic mechanics rely on that model of video games: i.e. you shoot things from the first-person perspective. Codemasters has attempted to create an even more brutal shooting game by having most of the environment destructible. What that means is that you will have to gauge the durability of the object you choose to take cover under, and can blast through most buildings rather than use the front door.

Codemasters has also implemented another unique feature to their first-person shooter title coming out Spring of next year. While most (good) FPS gamers know that crouching will increase the precision of your aim, Bodycount specifically enforces this idea. Standing, and especially running while gunning will result in wild and inaccurate gunfire. By squeezing the left trigger, however, you can get under a crouch position that drastically improves your aim. The joystick will let you lean in the desired direction for optimal movement. By pushing the left trigger in only midway, you can move around while under the crouch position. Bodycount is very much about precision and conciseness, to which the developers accredit as being an intimate and fluid relationship with the cover system.

The story follows the unfortunate tale of Jackson Delgado, who has been forced in the middle of a war-torn country fighting over oil. The first contact Delgado makes is a fight between the local militia forces and the military holding control. While 7 out of 10 times the soldiers will take victory, the fuzzy analog logic ensures that this is not always the case. Because the scenario is unscripted, the solider could very well lose the battle.

As we continue on our way, picking up intel (aka experience points that can be allocated to weaponry or abilities), ammo and health, our computerized guide informs us of our next tasks. On one side the map, we have to leverage intel from some pirates. The other side is host to a heavily protected militarized compound where we are told to investigate something of “high yield interest” further explained as an “unusual structure.” Although these tasks are assigned to you, you can go about them in any form you prefer. For instance, I found the “unusual structure” to be calling my name. As I climb up some obscure and over-sized pipe, I’m told that there are multiple ways to get in and out of all areas on the map.

After a few failed attempts at a silenced pistol, I went my tried and true method of blazing through enemies with the assault rifle. When I came upon the “unusual structure,” I soon realized it was more of a threat than I had expected. A huge brute of a “man,” also known as a psycho soldier, armed to the teeth and sustaining damage like I’ve never seen before persisted in following me around the map. So I of course chewed my way through buildings and ran from him. I was told that he’s currently too powerful, and development will see his stamina decreased in favor of more damage.

In terms of actual combat, you are given the typical full range of weaponry with the exclusion of anything too powerful such as rocket/grenade launchers. Melee weapons are also limited, as Codemasters wants to keep combat range relatively distant. In place of these things, however, is the ability to call air-strikes, mobile gun platforms, etc. that can help you in battle. There will be a push method for enemies that get too close, but keeping cover is the main focus. It makes it all the more difficult, too, when you have to consider the destruction of the environment and realize that the box you were taking cover behind is now destroyed to a few splinters. Figuring out which object is destructible and which is permanent is half the battle. Given that metal is one of the few materials you cannot shoot through, I imagine seeking cover behind objects constructed from the material would be your best option.

Being surrounded in a tight corner by armored soldiers, I inquired about the AI system of enemies. They are coded to form squads, each individual with particular abilities (scavengers, medics, etc). The experience is very much about customization. You see this with expending intel points toward your character, abilities, weaponry, health/grenade packs, and the minimap. Depending on your preferences in gameplay, you can choose to upgrade where you see fit.

Development is currently a year in, but with many additions to come. There still is an opportunity to improve on some missing physics (particularly water physics), glass, and other animations.