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Abacus not included.

Bodycount approaches the FPS genre a little differently to the real world shooters we've been bombarded with of late. In fact, says game director Andy Wilson, there's been a deliberate decision to move away from what has become a familiar formula.

"We want you to play this game with a smile on your face, like people used to when they played the old arcade-style side scrolling shooters," he explains. "The one thing we want to do better than everyone else is recreate the feeling of firing a gun and the effect the bullets have on the world, how they tear it apart.

"That's why we've built a world with the highest possible level of degradation. We want to give the player a lot of tactical options, especially once the areas of cover begin to get shredded and the world starts to open up, allowing you to shoot targets from all sorts of angles."

In many ways, Bodycount marks a throwback to the days when shooters were more about the joy of killing than the carefully scripted cinematic ride. Open, cleverly designed levels provide the opportunity to pick and choose your route to each destination, while the action is all about inflicting maximum carnage.

Call in air strikes to level the playing field.

According to Wilson, each pathway and combat tactic leads to a different combat experience. In a bid to prove this claim he let me get to grips with a level set within the confines of an African mine.

Guided by the now obligatory chatter of my female handler sitting snug and warm back at HQ, I kicked of the mission with a yomp through some meandering mountainside patrolled by enemy henchmen. But it wasn't long before stealth gave way to the promised carnage - seconds later I was gunning down the first of many waves of enemies.

My opponents instantly fanned out and ensconced themselves behind cover before engaging me with bobbing, short, sharp bursts of automatic fire. Replaying the same section again, I discovered a back route that allowed me to flank the very same foes and catch them unawares.

One of Bodycount's more unique features is its first-person cover system. By holding down the left trigger you can freeze yourself to the spot and use the left stick to lean out of cover to let off salvos. While not quite as satisfying as the third-person equivalent, the system did seem robust enough to provide a level of tactical cover often lacking in many FPSes.

Each level will possess a number of routes.

The game's most standout feature is the sheer level of destruction you can inflict on your surroundings; think Bad Company 2 on steroids. Any point of cover not made of metal or stone can and will be shredded by the maelstrom of bullets you exchange with your foes, while a well placed grenade can turn even the sturdiest hut into kindling.

Much of the environment is eminently destructible, forcing you to constantly move from one point of cover to the next. This results in some truly frenetic and surprisingly tactical shootouts.

Further ramping up the challenge levels is a variety of distinct enemy classes, each possessing its own skill-set. "We have a number of different classes which act uniquely," explains Wilson. "It's all about how you let a situation to play out. So for example, if you don't take out enemy medics, they'll run around reviving their comrades, making your life much more difficult."

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PS3, Xbox 360

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Martin Korda