I'm shocked, but not
by shells. There's something about playing ShellShock
2 that makes me feel dirty. Perhaps it's the
terrible portrayal of the Vietnamese. Perhaps it's
the sub-B-movie dialogue. Or maybe it's the fact
that I'm writing this review without having completed
the game, because I genuinely couldn't bring myself to
play any more of it.
This is a complete abomination. Everything it
tries, it gets spectacularly wrong. I found myself
rolling my eyes at the cliché-ridden introductory
cut-scene, which explains with woeful inadequacy how
people have been transformed into bloodthirsty zombies
by some sort of biological warfare and oh god make it
stop. In retrospect, I think that was my favourite part
of the game.
There's no sense of direction, ambition, or any real
desire to acknowledge what makes first-person shooters
enjoyable. That it manages to stick so rigidly to
such a hackneyed FPS format yet still miss the mark so
completely is quite something. I've spent three
paragraphs working out where to even begin.
Well, how about this. The first time I encountered
an enemy, the game threw an awful quick-time event at
me. When I failed to read the on-screen
instructions and press two buttons within half a
second, I predictably died, about two minutes into the
first level. Then I got hopelessly lost, because
everything was too dark, and all the doors were
apparently painted on the walls. And every single
room looked the same.
the poor bugger while it's down..."
Eventually, I came to a
courtyard, where an American soldier taunted a helpless
Vietnamese man before shooting him in the head.
Far from being a gritty and honest portrayal of the
abominable behaviour that went on during that terrible
war, it instead felt like I was supposed to be in on the
joke, laughing along. Fortunately, the bastard got
shot quickly enough, but I then found myself pitted
against a stream of enemies who seemed to have
materialised through the walls. When I pressed the
left trigger button to aim, the game froze, and when it
came round again I was dead.
Next time, the game didn't freeze, but it might as well
have done. I tried cranking the 'assisted aiming'
slider right to the top, but it didn't seem to make the
blindest bit of difference. So, sticking to manual
aiming, I attempted to line up some shots, only to find
the controls were so wildly unpredictable that I still
couldn't hit any of the fuckers. Eventually, I
switched to the knife, and went around slashing at
everyone, which covered the screen entirely in blood,
and I died because I couldn't see what I was doing.
I died a lot while playing ShellShock 2, and
rarely was it a result of anything other than the game's
refusal to work in a coherent manner. It's not
even that it's too difficult in a conventional
sense. It would be fine, if it didn't make playing
the thing so bloody impossible. The AI's so awful
that most enemies just run around in random patterns,
but their aim is so precise that they can hit you with
every shot from a hundred metres away, while you hide behind
It almost feels unfair to spend too long talking about ShellShock
2, because everything I say will just amount to
kicking the poor bugger while it's down. Even if
you can get past the atrocious level design, mediocre
graphics, regular instant-death sequences and ludicrous
animation and clipping issues, you'll still be left with
a pseudo-horror game that paints such an awful portrait
of the Vietnam conflict that it remains thoroughly
hateful throughout. This uncomfortable atmosphere
means a game that could have been amusingly bad just
ends up being plain awful.
predictable and broken drivel.