Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Release Date: September 7, 2004
Ever since I played Revenant, Eidos has held a special place in my heart. I always have viewed this company as being innovative with game titles, and products such as Thief and Hitman just keep renewing my faith in them.
Shellshock: Nam '67 follows in the tradition of those pioneering titles, with developer Guerrilla Games at the helm of this assignment. Guerrilla is a relative newcomer in the business, but I believe that they could be very successful if they keep producing titles of this caliber.
Shellshock is a rated "M" for mature, and it earns this rating with no trouble, as the title contains strong sexual themes, drug use, and language. Due to the level of violence and gore present, I would highly suggest that no one under the age of 17 play this. The first time the player walks into a village where the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnam Army (NVA) have crucified the residents, the sight is ghastly.
The basis of this game is that it is a third-person shooter, and the technical implementation of the concept is well-executed. There is also a slower, but more accurate mode, which allows you to shoot with the guide of the sight. The ability to lean left and right is easy to accomplish by using the directional pad, and movement control is Halo-style, which makes it easy to pick up from the beginning. The movement of the character has a lot of fine control to it, and it can switch from a loping run to a very slow stalk.
Weapons in the game are standard for the period. Each one of them is implemented accurately, with the exception of the flamethrower, which does not have the range that a real flamethrower would have. It is nice that everyone drops their weapon when they die because it gives the game a more realistic feeling. Also, when the player runs out of ammo, they can pick up an AK-47 and go to town on the VC.
Graphically, this game is put together quite well. The level is not completely overrun with plants, but does not look like a well-manicured garden either. The dark, muddy water of Vietnam has this golden sheen when the sun hits it, and during the night, the moon shines silver on the river water.
Shellshock also adds some twists to the standard "see VC, liberate VC from bodily fluids" methodology of the game. One of the missions has a section that entails shooting at VC from a helicopter's door gunner position, and the game also has two stealth-based missions.
The most unique element was the traps. Certain grenade traps are defused by clicking the directional pad in a pattern that is displayed on the screen, and it has to be done within a certain timeframe. Other traps can be avoided or crawled under, and they can be found anywhere in doorways, along paths, or in the middle of the battlefield.
Time between missions is spent at camp. The base camp has music blaring, people milling about with whom you can converse, a weapons range and even a guy selling stuff for chits, a military form of pay at the time. The guy selling things has items such as performance-enhancing drugs, weapons, fake passes, and postcards of girlie pictures. There is a collection concept with these girlie pictures, but there is another way of getting them. The player can go to the R&R area and pay a girl to "make them a man," and for each girl, the player gets a picture. The guy also buys souvenirs that the player collects during missions, increasing the amount of chits the player has.
One thing to note about the weapons range is that the player can change weapons there from the mission default, although sticking with the mission default is usually a good idea. If the weapon suggested by the game does not work well, there should be enough weapons laying around to swap with during the mission.
Most of the harsh cut scenes in the game show combat in one form or another. The scenes are usually exciting, but a few are just plain shocking and gruesome. In one such scene, a South Vietnamese soldier tortures a Vietnamese woman who is a spy. Even though some scenes are disturbing, all of them are well done and show just how cruel the war was.
The game has about two hours' worth of missions if played with enough hustle, taking place in jungles, villages, cities and even a temple. Each mission is excellent in both playability and depicting life in Vietnam during the war. The combat in the missions is not exactly realistic, but about as close as a game could get. In a real war zone, there is not a magical health kit which will bring someone back to full health, most sustained wounds would require immediate medical attention in a hospital. Of course, games are never as realistic as real life, as you can always magically return from the dead by using your last saved game.
The VC have decent AI; they will run away from grenades and use cover, to a limited extent. On the stealth missions, hearing ‘GI! GI!' and a whistle blow is the signal that the player is about to get the hell shot out of them.
I encountered two flaws in the game. The first was a graphical flaw that would cause a section of wall to appear to churn back and forth, although it was hardly noticeable most of the time. The second seemed to be a scripting issue. On the last mission, one of the player's teammates has to blow a door, but when I played the level, he never accomplishes this and just runs right through the door. It seemed to be some combination of how I played that triggered that flaw because others have played the same level with better results.
Since there is no multiplayer component, this game has zero replay value. I would have liked to see a team mode or at least have the game be Xbox Live aware. With the amount of Xbox owners on Live, I would view this as almost a requirement. It is my opinion that some of the unique elements of this game could have made for a good multiplayer portion. The trapped maps alone would have been excellent for some sick surprises.
I enjoyed this game completely and appreciated all of its little nuances, but I believe that the lack of replay value is detrimental and turns it into "another shooter game." It is a well-executed period piece with decent AI and excellent, if short, playability.
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