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The Shield

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: Point of View


PS2/PC Preview - 'The Shield'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 30, 2006 @ 6:29 a.m. PST

In The Shield, based on the TV series, you take on the role of Mackey, the tough, street-savvy leader of the Elite Strike Team, a special police unit located deep within the crime-riddled trenches of Los Angeles.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: Point of View
Release Date: December 11, 2006

It's not easy to be a cop, but if The Shield is right, it's even harder to be a corrupt cop. Based on the popular FX show of the same name, The Shield tells the story of the fictional Farmington police district of Los Angeles. Due to the massive increase in gang-related violence in LA, an experimental task force known as the Strike Team was created to help deal with the rapidly growing crime rate. A four-man unit headed by Vic Mackey (played by Michael Chiklis), the Strike Team is among the most corrupt and unethical cops you'll ever see. Set during the show's third season, The Shield deals with the aftermath of the Money Train Heist. Although the Strike Team successfully embezzled a massive amount of money from an Armenian drug dealer, they're under deep suspicion from their commanding officers, and the Strike Team is facing the possibility of being disbanded. To make matters worse, one of their members is fatally ill, and another wants to quit. In order to save the Strike Team (and his own hide), Vic and the remaining members must find a way to stop an all-out gang war from breaking out … without bringing any extra heat down on their own actions.

The Shield lets you take control of Vic as he tracks down the source of the illegal MP5 machine guns flooding into the city. Tracking down the guns will lead Vic all over the city, from the junkyards to the ghettos, and lead him face-to-face with some of the worst the city has to offer. Unfortunately for the nastiest the city has to offer, Vic is worse. The law is just an obstacle to him, and he's not afraid to break it if it means getting his way. Everything from sneaking into a house to plant drugs to brutalizing suspects is just fine to Vic, as long as he doesn't get caught.

Most of the time, Vic can get what he wants without violence. While he's no match for Solid Snake or Sam Fisher, years of sneaky behavior have left Vic with a well-developed ability for stealth. While he doesn't have radar, he does know how to move quietly. Of course, the player still has to be cautious of objects like chairs and boxes. Bumping them will alert nearby criminals almost as well as a gunshot. Be it sneaking by gang members or planting evidence, it's no problem for Vic. A few well-placed drugs can do wonders for making someone talk.

Not all criminals are so willing to open up. For more moral police officers, this might be where the trail stops, but not for Vic. As long as the camera is off, Vic is more than willing to "persuade" his suspects to talk. Vic's methods of persuasion are as numerous as his victims. By grabbing a victim, Vic activates a button-pressing mini-game. Success causes him to "persuade" his victim in one of many brutal ways. Beyond simple beatings, he can press their faces into a stove, smash them into windows or shove their faces into toilets. If he needs to avoid leaving a mark, he can smash up their shops or beat them with a phonebook, among many other things. Needless to say, nobody holds out for very long.

Unfortunately, violence isn't always avoidable, and sometimes Vic has to throw down. Years on the mean streets have given Vic the ability to brawl with the best of them. The Circle and X buttons allow him to do low and high punches, or mix them together for a combo. The Square button lets Vic dodge attacks, and Triangle lets him grapple the enemy. Once an enemy is grabbed, Vic can slam him into walls or pull him to the ground and handcuff 'em. A handcuffed criminal looks a lot better to the top brass than a dead one, after all.

Vic's hand-to-hand skills are worthless if he can't reach the enemy, however. Too bad for the gangs in the city, he's also a crack shot. The Shield's gunplay system is very similar to the one found in Resident Evil 4. The over-the-shoulder view allows for precision accuracy, which is more important than usual in The Shield. Ammo is scarce, and reloading before a clip is empty means the rest of that clip is wasted. A headshot is an instant kill, and making each bullet count can be the difference between facing a room full of One-Niners with a fully loaded shotgun or a pistol with a single bullet.

Occasionally, a perp will escape from the Strike Team's watchful eye, and Vic will have to chase them down. While the criminals are quick, Vic is quicker, and he can scale walls and jump fences far quicker than his victims, and it's only a matter of time before Vic gets what he wants. These segments are among the more pulse-pounding in the game, as a single mistake can be the difference between a successful arrest and a game over.

While he isn't a good guy, Vic is still a policeman, and can't be seen breaking the law. Every time Vic does something illegal, be it beating a victim in plain sight or killing a man, he gains "heat." Too much heat and the Strike Team members are fired, so sometimes Vic has to play by the rules. By arresting criminals legally, planting evidence to justify his actions and turning in valuables to the evidence locker, Vic can bring some of the heat off his back. Occasionally, other officers will ask for Vic's help in an optional side mission, such as recovering a stolen weapon or taking down drug dealers in the area. Besides looking good to the top brass, these missions also unlock extra content, which ranges from character models to deleted scenes. Fans of The Shield will want to take every request.

Of course, not all of that evidence goes into the evidence locker. As Vic is investigating a crime scene, he will occasionally find various illegal prizes, such as drugs or stolen money. By searching any suspicious place, the player enters a skilled-based mini-game to check for contraband. The faster players succeed, the better items they find. Any of the "evidence" which doesn't go into the locker finds its way into the Strike Team's retirement fund instead. Balancing what goes into the locker and what goes into the fund is important to keep suspicion off the Strike Team's activities.

The Shield is a game a long time in the making. With the actors from the show reprising their roles and a storyline bringing back favorite characters alive and dead, The Shield looks to capture the feel of the show perfectly. All of the Strike Team's skills, both legal and illegal, will come into play, and this time, it's the player who controls the outcome. With the sixth season still a while away, fans have been dying to see Vic and the rest of the Strike Team in action again, and this December, they'll have their chance.

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