- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 4th Aug 2011
There are certain phrases that you will encounter frequently in game articles, previews, and reviews -- specifically the phrase "spiritual successor" as in "this game is the spiritual successor of that game" -- and, while it is not always used correctly, when it is properly applied to the introduction of a game, it reveals a lot about that game. Bear that in mind as it will be important in a bit...
Bodycount is an upcoming first-person shooter for Windows PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3, being developed by the Guildford Studios and published by Codemasters, that tells the story of Jackson, an ex-Special Forces operator who has been seduced by the dark side in the form of a recruiter from a Private Military Contractor (PMC) called "The Network" -- whose niche in the small community of what would have been called mercenaries in a previous era is resolving conflicts that even the UN considers to be unresolvable.
Operating largely in Africa and the Middle East -- mostly the type of undeveloped Third-World country in which a single man can still seize power with the support of a small group -- The Network operatives use what are widely considered to be unconventional tactics (most of which are not legal, strictly speaking). They can do that because there is very little oversight and, more to the point, such tactics tend to get positive results where a more conventional approach does not. Think in terms of assassinations, the sort of counter-intelligence operations that cause a warlord to distrust their lieutenants, that sort of thing, and you will not be far from the mark.
Jackson is typical of the sort of individual that PMC recruiters go after; he is specially trained and well versed in bringing hurt down upon the enemy, and he feels disillusioned towards the military command structure -- who he blames for their failure to act to solve the problems that he and his men saw on a daily basis. The cost of his training was paid by the tax payer, undertaken by the military, and results in a competent professional soldier who has also experienced the frustration of being held back from solving problems by the conventional military authority -- that through no fault of its own is hampered by the need to follow the letter of the law when waging war.
The typical salary for a Special Forces Operative will keep a family of four fed, clothed, and with the assistance of a bank mortgage, housed -- but it will not make them wealthy. A choice assignment with a PMC can and often does earn an operative as much money in a month as they made in a year in the military -- but for many of these special operators it is not simply money that motivates them, it is the strong desire to solve the problems that they are confronted with, and the feelings of triumph and power that result when they do solve such a problem.
Over the course of a military career and time spent as an operative, Jackson begins to notice trends to events that link with each other to form what he begins to suspect is a cabal of private interests who are behind the small wars that the company he works for is paid to deal with -- and that is where our story really begins.
Bodycount is widely considered to be the spiritual successor to the game Black, which was created by the same development team and is based upon a similar philosophical approach -- but a radically different practical approach -- something that will become obvious in the game play section of this preview.