Shellshock Nam '67 - Review
This game was a bit of a surprise release. Months after Guerilla announced it's highly anticipated Killzone the company confirmed that their first title would actually be this game, Shellshock Nam '67. It's the first Vietnam War game on Playstation 2, but with Sci's Conflict: Vietnam and Take Two's Vietcong: Purple Haze both due for release within the month it's going to be a 3-way battle. How does this first title fare?
|Time to kill "charlie", not "gook".|
It's 1967. You've been drafted to fight in the most controversial war of modern times. As a rookie soldier, you will experience the fear, chaos and atrocities of the Vietnam War. From napalm bombardments of civilian villages to deadly VC booby traps, can you survive your first tour of duty?
This game kicks off really well. In fact you'd swear it was the opening scene from the movie Platoon where Charlie Sheen as Chris Taylor gets off the plane at the army base. Shellshock Nam '67 includes 12 missions in total ranging from large-scale NVA battles to stealth-based assignments such as assassinating a Viet Cong General. The action takes place from a 3rd person perspective which is fine, and you also have the option by pressing R3 to zoom in slightly to a closer over the shoulder viewpoint making targeting easier. Firing is done with the R1 button while R2 allows you to switch weapons. Of course it is also possible to move to a crouch or prone position. The game also includes a variety of weapons - machine guns are prevalent but you will also be able to use knives, grenades, C4, and pistols.
|Massacre of civilians!|
There is plenty to like about this game. It's gritty and re-creates the atmosphere of the Vietnam War pretty well, including some of the atrocities. It's nice to see that enemies donít disappear when killed, can take items such as badges and flags and trade them for 'chets' which acts like currency to buy items. What can you buy? Well pictures and hookers to start with! It doesn't add much to the gameplay, but is a nice touch at least.
Well now for the problems in Shellshock Nam '67, and really there is a lot more to write here then for the good side of the game. The first issue is that it's possible to shoot team mates. Sure it may make the game a little less enjoyable, but also takes away much realism. Shooting a teammate usually gets a verbal response, but that's about all. It's also possible to shoot civilians and animals without punishment. The game is also lacking in the AI department. At times enemies will stay out in the open even if you're taking potshots at them. Also very strange is the decision by developers to not provide a normal health bar, but rather one that recharges after a short amount of time. Take some hits to the head and you can sit behind a rock and re-charge your health. Quite strange.
|That's a low flying jet!|
Easily the most annoying aspect of this title is that the enemies respawn after being killed. It really takes away much of the realism, and sense of accomplishment. The other problem with this is that if you go charging ahead and leave your squad behind you get called back for going AWOL. Continue and its mission over. The lack of multi-player also hurts this game badly. Online gameplay would have been great (and given that Guerilla's next title is online it a surprise omission), but even 2-player split screen would have been welcome. Finally, the length of the game is a real concern. The 12 missions aren't overly long and the game was finished in under 5 hours. Sure you can go back to collect all the hidden items, but will you bother? I'm not so sure.
|Finish him off...|
Graphics in Shellshock Nam '67 certainly have a very gritty and somewhat unclean look to them which, by the way, is intentional (I hope!). Most of the game has a grainy look which seems to convey the conflict perfectly - much like Manhunt's video look or Red Dead Revolver's old style film artifacts. The frame rate is fairly solid and the levels looks splendid. Of some concern is the disappointing animation on the characters which at times seems unrealistic. Cut scenes are also good, but certainly not the best ever seen.
Sound in this game is quite atmospheric. The levels contain battles and explosions in the distance which, even during quiet parts of the missions always reminds you what may be over the next hill. One interesting thing in the game is that even with the swearing you won't hear the word 'gook' used at all, even though it was common during the war. All the enemies are known as 'charlie'. Sure a bit more politically correct, but since when was this game politically correct, especially with hookers as a reward?
|The explosions look nice.|
Despite all the negative issues which I have mentioned about Shellshock Nam '67 you may be surprised to hear that it did keep me entertained and engrossed until the end. I don't know why but something did click. However, what is really concerning about Shellshock Nam '67 is not that it falls short of expectations, but rather that the developer is the same as that behind the highly anticipated Killzone - although there are different teams working on each game. This is a game for those in the need for an action fix, for those looking for a Vietnam War experience. It's not great, but like me you may find some strange attraction to the title.
Review By: David Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Ranges from brilliant to ordinary. Overall - it's below expectation.||75%|
|SOUND||Atmospheric, good music and good effects. But not enough variety.||72%|
|GAMEPLAY||Respawning enemies, poor AI, health recharge, but still engaging.||70%|
|VALUE||I'm not sure that you'll play through it more then once, and fairly short.||55%|
|OVERALL||Who knows what happened to this title. Some of the design decisions such as the recharging health leave much to be desired while the game should have had a couple more missions. Overall an underwhelming experience but one which action fans may enjoy for a while.||70%|