Shellshock: Nam '67
Many recent wargames are a bit too clean and shiny for our liking, bearing little resemblance to the actual reality of battle. ShellShock: Nam '67 is the game that's intent on bucking this trend and putting the horror back into the bullets - even if the jury's out on whether this is because of its historical significance or because they know the kids love to see the gristle flying off the bone. Expect to see atrocities committed by your squad, heads on spikes, gruesome NVA traps and some of the most disturbing images we've seen in a shooter for many a year.
Viewed from a third-person perspective, ShellShock sticks you in the fatigues of a basic grunt trying to survive his tour of duty -whose successes see him rising through the ranks and into the Special Forces and the top secret Black Ops. You fight in squads, though you won't be able to give orders, and you visit all of the expected Vietnamese locales, from paddy-field and tunnel network to wreckage-strewn city.
Despite being a little cynical when first presented with ShellShock. we're wanning to its gung-ho brutality. A very cinematic game, it has 12 hour-long missions containing striking images and a storyline that encompasses mythical all-powerful NVA generals, a spy in the camp and a revered Special Forces hero who dies in suspicious circumstances. With its unflinching approach to warfare, developer Guerilla is clearly hell-bent on making ShellShock the Platoon of the current crop of Vietnam shooters. We'll need a more thorough playtest to see whether the gameplay lives up to the vibe.
Download Shellshock: Nam '67
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
"Drug references: check. Swearing: check. Prostitutes: check. Dead bodies: check. Gameplay - oh. This could quite easily describe the checklist reeled off by Eidos before giving the go-ahead for Shellshock: Nam '67, an attempt at a realistic and gritty war game that's as controversial as the war it's based on. Well, that's how it's been marketed, anyway. You start off as a rookie grunt, and gradually work your way through to promotion into Special Forces and beyond. Controlling your soldier from a third-person perspective, the idea is to accompany your squad through several missions, all the while avoiding VC booby traps and witnessing wartime atrocities. Sadly, the reality is far less interesting.
White Men Can't Jump
For a start, the missions themselves range from run of the mill to deathly boring, and frequently mess you around with objectives that are inadequately explained. The control system never feels quite right, probably due to its shared development on the consoles. Bizarrely, you can't even jump, which leads to several 'hilarious' occasions where your highly trained soldier has to run halfway across the level to get around a shin-high trench.
The Al is also wholly inconsistent. While the enemy is usually fairly competent at seeking cover, they'll often inexplicably around blindly, or totally fail to notice your presence when you're standing right in front of them. Your squad-mates are frequently nothing less than a pain in the arse too, either because they're always getting lost, or keep running into your line of fire.
In between missions, you often get to stroll around your base camp where you can try out new weapons, chat to soldiers to progress the story, and purchase contraband. The contraband stuff includes pictures of women with - yes -partially exposed breasts, not to mention a selection of drugs and a pass to visit the local prostitutes. It's all far tamer than it sounds though - the pictures are juvenile, the drugs are no more controversial than Snake's sniper-rifle steadying pills in Metal Gear Solid, and the encounters with prostitutes are sexually inexplicit. The presentation is a mixed bag - the pre-rendered cinematics are generally of a high standard, yet the in-engine cutscenes are dull and unskippable. The graphics engine itself isn't exactly triple-A, and is blighted by an annoying fog that fails to hide the pop-up. There was even one part of the game where the approach of an enemy could be spotted by watching his elbow protruding through a brick wall. Thankfully, the quality of the sound fares better, featuring several licensed tracks from the era accompanied by some atmospheric sound effects throughout the game.
Nevertheless, Shellshock is a mess. It's no more controversial than a hundred other games you'll have seen before, all of which play better than this. Look beyond the undeserved 18-certificate, and you'll find little more than a below-par actionshooter that's about as much fun to play as pulling a VC bayonet out of your gonads. It smells of something hot and strong, and it ain't napalm...