Bodycount – E3 Interview

One of the great things about E3 is that you’re never too far from a developer or somebody from a game studio, and while I was wandering around after seeing Saints Row in the south hall, I happened across a few consoles running Codemasters’ upcoming O.T.T.F.P.S. (over the top first person shooter – that’s what I’m calling them, deal with it). It was just sat in the midpoint of a level where the previous gamer had wandered off and I picked up the pad. I was stuck in a shed with one of them big buggers outside lumping around a mini gun looking for someone to shoot. It goes without saying I died a lot; I tried everything I could to take him down but I kept getting killed.

As the time passes I started to become more aware that I was having trouble with what I’m guessing should be an easy part of the game. “You struggling mate?” said an Englishman stood behind me, “yeah just a bit; show me how it’s done” and I passed him the pad. He introduced himself as John Gittens, the games brand manager, as he took the pad off me and continued to show me how to get killed by the big bugger with the mini gun multiple times before finally hitting restart level while I broke out my best Lois Lane on-the-spot interviewing skills.

You guys are known more for your racers than anything else, and you’re up there with the best of them for that; what do you think you’ve got to give to the FPS genre that’s different?

There’s a lot of great shooters out there, and a lot of them do the whole cinematic experience very well, but actually what we’re trying to do is to think about the last time you played a shooter where the guns just felt cool so we’re implementing a few new things. First thing is cover lean, which lets you get in behind cover, poke out from behind cover, and kind of our version of the third person sticky cover but letting you have full three-sixty degree movement letting you pick your line of site, and is just a very organic way of firing the gun. But if you’ve got a little muscle memory from other games and you wanna just do the iron sights thing that you’re used to, you can still do that but you’ll soon see it’s less accurate and the reticule jumps about much quicker than if you’re glued to the spot behind cover. As you play the game more you’ll find that you’re driven into cover more and more often by the AI. It’s just about giving that experience of the gun to people, and for some it might take a bit of getting used to because it’s not the same as your standard first person shooter, but for any studio bringing out an FPS you need to think about what you’re doing differently and what’s unique about your proposition. We can say that we’re focused on the gun experience and that when people pick up the guns in Bodycount they are going to enjoy firing them. I think that’s what makes us pretty unique within the genre.

Which of your studios is building the game?

It’s built by the studio down in Guildford. It’s basically a hot bed of dev talent, and when we started out we wanted to create a kind of spiritual successor to Black, so we’ve got a lot of the same guys there working on the game and while it’s not a sequel to Black, we took a look at what Black did in terms of erodible environments and just the feeling of the gun and wanted to capture that. Like with the shotgun in this, you really feel like you’re holding the shotgun and with the cover lean system it makes a fire fight a much more intense experience.

There are a lot of people out there trying to shake up the first person shooter at the moment with Bulletstorm and Brink having a good go, albeit with a bit of a rocky start, is that where Bodycount fits in?

Yeah we definitely see ourselves in that Brink and Bulletstorm category; we could be the three Bs if you like, so we’re definitely more in that family than trying to be a military sim and the principles are a lot more ‘arcadey’ if you like. An example of that is the intel you’ll see lying around after killing a few bad guys that you’ll need to go around and hoover up. The blue intel is for a normal kill, and for a skill kill you’ll get yellow intel, all of which fill up your O.S.B. functionality or ‘Operational Support Button’ and that’s when you can start to trigger things like adrenaline, the super shredding bullets, the air strikes and all these kinds of arcade tactics.

Enemy classes play a big part in a lot of those over the top FPS games; what level of intelligence are you giving them for Bodycount?

Even when it comes to the AI, it’s convergent AI with different classes working together; it’s not like Codemasters’ other titles like Operation Flashpoint, which is quite a cerebral title in a lot of ways and is a lot of fun, but you really need to think about what you’re doing before you engage, whereas in Bodycount you’re constantly in the middle of a fire fight and need to think with immediate tactics. ‘Who do I take down first?’ ‘In what order do I take them down?’ For example, if there is a medic there and a psycho tank over there then obviously the psycho tank is a pain in the arse but if I kill him and move up then the medic can just walk over and revive him, and I’ll have to kill him all over again while thinking about getting back into cover. Bodycount is just immediate arcade tactics and fun with a gun, in a nutshell.

With that, the very nice PR lady who had originally left me with the Saints Row developers appeared once again, looking confused as to how I ended up talking to John from Codemasters (for those who are also confused by this, THQ will be publishing Bodycount in the US and shared a booth at E3) and I was whisked away to look at more games. From what I played of Bodycount, and what I got to see John play, it really is shaping up to be a great game. It’s just total over the top arcade action, and I’m sure we’ll have a full preview for you nearer the launch in early September.

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  1. Edward Edward says:

    I’m loving the rise of the OTTFPS in games, and it’s the thing that’s going to get me more interested in games where I’m shooting people without being able to see my own feet.
    Interesting how they’re going with it, though I’m not sure what to make of either of you being unable to beat the guy with the mini-gun.
    You asked some good questions, especially as you managed to get such lengthy responses from them. Good job :)

  2. Adam Adam Freeman says:

    Another awesome looking game to come direct from a British studio, really hope to see it succeed. First saw it in Edge last month and loved how close to TimeSplitters parts of the game are so will be sure to check this out :)

  3. Mr McGash says:

    Did you ever get past the kill zone that was the shed lol
    Sounds and looks good, just hope it has a better start than Brink :/ Will keep watching

  4. Lee says:

    @pete – I didn’t no, John from Codies did though… eventually.

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