In the many years I’ve been writing about games, I try my best to broaden my horizons and check out stuff that’s not as well known, or written about. In some cases I just end up writing about obscure first-person shooters from the ‘90s most people don’t know about. Such as Operation: Body Count.
For those unaware, Operation: Body Count was a first-person shooter released in 1994 by Capstone Software. In it, you play as a nameless commando who has to stop the evil Victor Baloch and rescue world leaders. It had a fair share of interesting features like AI buddies you could control to help you complete floors, semi destructible environments, a map of the area to avoid getting lost, and a semi-realistic environment in the days when things looked pretty abstract.
The game gives a really bad first impression where Our Hero has to fight the dreaded sewer rats under Baloch’s brainwashing for the first several levels. It also doesn’t help the game looks like… well, this.
It looks like a bad Wolfenstein 3D clone, doesn’t it? Well, it uses id’s Wolfenstein 3D engine as a base, which looked pretty cool in 1992-93. Many games ended up using the engine for their games, including Apogee’s Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold and Rise of the Triad.
But then Doom happened. Basically any FPS that still had the 90 degree maze-like look of Wolfenstein looked extremely dated, especially by 1994 standards. Even Capstone’s other big FPS of the time, Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, didn’t fare so well either for the same reasons as Operation: Body Count. I wouldn’t be surprised if many FPS developers were swearing their heads off when the shareware episode of Doom hit in 1993, with its open areas, tall floors, and level geometry that went beyond 90 degrees.
Despite the game’s relative obscurity, a Doom modder by the name of Impie decided to take the fairly maligned DOS game and give it a Doom-style makeover. The result is nothing but amazing. Also called Operation: Body Count, the game is similar to the 1994 Capstone original, but with significant changes that make the gameplay more fun and exciting.
Our Hero now has a name, Hector Juarez. The villain’s still Victor Baloch, but now instead of taking place in a single building, Juarez now must stop Baloch’s evil terrorist activities, killing big bads, and destroying anything in their path.
Since this is a Doom mod, it still has a lot of Doom’s trappings. Still gotta find keycards, hit switches, and shoot your way through occasional maze-like areas to make it to the goal. It’s still got some of the elements of the original, from weapons to enemies.
Though, the mod is more than just mowing down terrorists. Juarez now must complete side objectives in addition to eliminating all hostile threats. Destroying deadly chemicals with a flamethrower, defusing a bomb by hitting switches in the right order, even rescuing hostages from a deadly fate. In a way, the game takes a unique twist that makes it more like an ‘80s action movie pastiche than the original Capstone game was.
There are some issues I have with the mod, however. The weapon variety felt a bit lackluster. There should’ve been a magnum pistol or a machine gun to spice things up even if it wasn’t in the original game. Speaking of new weapons, the game introduces a railgun that’s meant for more long-range encounters. However, it felt particularly weak compared to similar railguns in other games, where bigger enemies took several shots with it to kill. I ended up not using it unless I ran out of ammo in the other guns I had.
The game uses the GZDoom version of the classic engine, and thus supports room-over-rooms, which can be confusing on some of the game’s levels. Lord knows I got lost a handful of times trying to figure out where I was supposed to go next, and I usually don’t get lost in these kind of games.
The other big problem is that a lot of the enemies are hitscanners, and since a lot of the levels are fairly wide open, it doesn’t take much to get potshotted by enemies at a distance. Expect to save a lot on the higher difficulties, and even then it doesn’t guarantee victory.
Despite my gripes, it’s still oddly fun. Taking what was considered to be an unremarkable FPS and making it fun and still Doom-like works in its favor. It seems this isn’t Impie’s first rodeo in remaking lesser-known FPSes, as they’ve remade an even more obscure FPS, Nerves of Steel, and is currently remaking Angst, which will likely come out this year.
I enjoyed playing the Doom version of Operation: Body Count despite my issues, and I recommend giving it a try if you want to play a shooter that is the 80s personified. As for the original game, I don’t know if it’s worth playing, but I may find out someday. This Doom mod is a good substitute, at least.
You can grab the mod here.
Note that this game requires Doom II to run (available on Steam, GOG, or your local secondhand shop), as well as the GZDoom engine (the most recent as of this writing is 3.2.5, though I used an experimental development build and it worked fine). The mod requires jumping so you’ll need to bind a key to that, and I recommend turning on “Enable Texture Display” on the Automap options so it’s easier to see where you’re going to avoid getting lost.