When you die in Bodycount, you're back at the last checkpoint in less than a second. No loading screen spitting out redundant advice, not even a blink of a loading icon. Just tap A and you're heading full-pelt into that last set-piece, lessons learned and guns reloaded.
It's emphatically an arcade shooter. The quick repetition, coupled with mostly generous checkpoints gives you permission to blast and experiment. Codemasters have taken a single page from Bulletstorm's encyclopaedia of skillshots, and folded them into a game where the real substance is entirely in the locations and that die again, try again gunplay. Progress isn't hard - the game's over in five our six hours - but topping the leaderboards requires practice and is almost as compulsive as Geometry Wars.
You're a nameless, voiceless agent of The Network. Your job: head towards that waypoint, shooting everyone you see. Corpse spit out "intel" as they die, which you can spend on your four special powers. No, it doesn't make sense, but the bloopy sound effects of harvested intel over the gunshots helps to give Bodycount its own distinctive charm.
Those powers: adrenaline buys you seconds of invincibility, explosive bullets allows you to blast your way out of a corner, and Air Strike lets you roll out a carpet of death. The final power, Pulse Wave, is an odd egg - seemingly only included for the final, disappointing finale.
Bodycount looks fantastic, from the rural browns and pastels of Africa through the rainy neon of Xuchang, and the red strips, black metal and glass of the underground compounds. More than pretty, the outdoor maps are brilliantly designed. You don't feel led down a corridor, more like you're exploring locations - with multiple paths to every destination and satisfyingly destructible sets.
Destruction - what Bodycount calls "shredding" - is one way of getting a skill shot. Grenades, mines, explosive barrels and headshots all count. So does luckier stuff, like killing someone with low health, or with the last bullet of your clip. These skill shots, coupled with killing as many people as possible, are how you'll build score and climb the leaderboards.
Ignore the storyline - it's not bad enough to be funny, and too light on detail to be engaging. You'll be asked to care about characters who've been given no personality, and told to feel moved by meagre plot twists that're scarcely explained.
But if you can look past it, Bodycount offers an enjoyable burst of relentless explosions. It's short, but the big levels bear replaying, and a co-op survival mode and deathmatch arenas make good use of the locations. For lovers of spectacle over nuance, Bodycount is a great way to build bad virtual karma.
Relentless explosions in a fragile, pretty world
- Fantastic level design
- Easy to complete, tough to complete well
- Quickly back in the action
- Ridiculously crap villainess
- Not many enemy types