Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something's missing....and it ain't a limb!, 10 Sep 2004
This review is from: ShellShock: Nam '67 (Xbox) (Video Game)
I hired this before I was thinking about buying it, and I'd recommend you'd do the same.
I'm a massive fan of Apocalypse Now and Vietnam War based PC games, so was pretty excited about Shellshock coming out (one of the 1st of a whole wave of new Vietnam-based games coming out over the next few months). Problem is, I think the anticipation built up my expectations too much! Don't get me wrong, it's a good game with some great touches, but it feels like there's something missing from the gameplay....
It plays like a Vietnam-based and violent "Brute Force". Clumsy controls mar what should be fun gameplay. Played from a 3rd person perspective just behind the character, and with a click of the right thumbstick you zoom in to 1st person through the sights of the weapon. The emphasis is on the action, not so much on realism. This means there are wave after wave of Viet Cong to shoot and plenty to keep your itchy trigger finger busy, but very little in the way of stealth missions (which the majority of Vietnam warfare was all about).
Controls are very intuitive with buttons doing what you expect, and the switch between 1st and 3rd person views is clever, but selecting weapons is unnecessarily complicated (hold black button and move D-pad to select weapon), it can be slow to turn and also the collision detection can be frustrating at times. As can the diffficulty level - although there are regular checkpoints there are often large chunks of action to survive before the next save point and you may find yourself going over and over the same part time and again!
The choice of weapons is large and they all act differently (more kickback, single shot v. automatic etc), but weren't satisfying enough and didn't feel like they packed a punch - the effects were a bit weak compared to other similar games. The grenades on the other hand were great with earth, soil and enemy body parts exploding and showering everywhere!
The sound and music is very atmospheric, including all the hits of the time playing in the background when you walk around the Base Camp, like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Sound effects and speech is also excellent with (basic) interaction possible with all friendly characters. Every cliche in the book is used in this game, drawing on ideas from a variety of Vietnam films (Platoon, Apocalypse Now etc.) - but it all adds to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, after the atmospheric intro movie setting the scene and briefly explaining the background to the war, the standard of some of the cut-screens and animation is actually pretty poor from what I've come to expect from my X-Box. Shame really, but only a minor gripe as there are often so many enemies on screen to shoot that you're too busy to worry!
Missions are varied and you get to rescue hostages, hold forts, storm villages, plant explosives in Vietcong tunnels, explode Sampan boats etc. I've only had it for 2 nights on hire so far, but already I'm very near completing the game on the Medium difficulty level. Then again, I have been playing it a lot. There is a lot to see and do, and you get bonuses for picking up war trophies and collectables from dead enemies along the way to improve your mission score, which is a nice touch.
As you can no doubt tell, "Shellshock" is pretty brutal and unapologetically bloody, fully earning its 18 certificate. It does show some atrocities (hostages being shot in close-up, rotting corpses littering villages, limbs flying off when hit with a grenade etc) and the like, so it's definitely not for kids, but I personally think this is one of the game's best and most realistic features (although heads exploding from afar after one or two bullets is a bit unrealistic).
Longevity of the game is slightly improved by the difficulty level - it is genuinely difficult to progress and you get a real sense of achievement when you reach the next checkpoint. If you stand still, more soldiers appear and run for you, so you're a dead man if you hang around too long before completing the objectives!
Overall I just want to say that I really like the game. However, I don't think it has enough long-lasting appeal for me to go out and buy it. Try before you buy....
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