You’ve probably heard it a million times: Vietnam games are all the rage for consoles this year. Every developer seems to think that reliving one of the most painful experiences in American history is somehow “fun for all of us.” So far, not a single developer has put forth an effort worth spending your time on, and frankly, Guerrilla hasn’t changed things with its utterly dull title, Shellshock: ‘Nam ’67. This is a by the numbers shooter that could be retextured to be a WW I, WW II, Korean War or even future war title, and we’d never know the difference. Heck, these might as well be stick figures duking it out and most folks wouldn’t notice the difference.
Shellshock drops you directly into the action as a green infantrymen, fresh out of training and into his first tour of action in Vietnam. Somehow, your green self gets put on some very important missions. The gameplay, all played from the third person perspective, is based on intensity – that is, intensity of combat and intensity of environments. Unfortunately, it never really feels as intense or claustrophobic as you’d expect jungle warfare to be. Mostly, it just feels like run and gun action wrapped in a green and brown color palette.
In any combat situation, intelligence is what keeps you alive. You can have the biggest guns, but if you’re not smart enough to use cover, you’re gonna head home in a body bag. Apparently, having brainpower (in the form of game AI) wasn’t something Guerrilla felt was necessary, as both your teammates and the enemy border on being complete morons. Taking cover is a completely foreign concept, as is aiming and hitting a target, at least for your buddies and their enemies.
Mission design is 1-2-3 linearity. Go this way, kill that, go that way and capture this. It’s all so basic, though sometimes objectives get obfuscated by oddball instructions that have you wandering all over the place trying to find one item or person. But don’t worry, you can’t really ever get lost, since there’s a very obvious pathway through each level. Exploration is not an aspect of this game, and with the incredibly dull environments available, you won’t miss it.
The presentation as a whole needed more attention than it obviously got. At some points, the visuals on the PS2 are great, but most of the time, it’s about as bland as the rice from the paddies you have to wade through in the game. The music is a shining light in the game’s audio, outshining the relatively dull sound effects and rather lifeless voice work. Dialog is nothing you won’t hear in just about any b-grade Vietnam film.
If you’re thinking of purchasing Shellshock: ‘Nam ’67, please think again. There’s nothing in this game that really should inspire you to drop $40 on it, not when there are much better third-person combat titles out there, such as SOCOM II. If you really must try this game, scrounge up a free rental coupon then go get it.
- Gameplay: 6
- Been there, done that, nothing new here.
- Graphics: 6
- Average textures, basic character models.
- Sound: 4
- Dull voice acting, clunky weapon sounds
- Replay: 3
- Play it once (if you can make it through) and never play again
- Overall: 5.0
- From this developer, we expect more, and this ain’t it.