Unfortunately, Shell Shock 2 never lives up to the promising opening five minutes
Many people are under the impression that reviews love to bad mouth games. There is almost the impression amongst the gaming public that publications like us like to criticize popular games in order to create hits, or to distinguish ourselves from the crowd. However, what many people fail to see is that when a game is bad, or has faults that are so glaring to the reviewer that he or indeed she feels compelled to point them out. It doesn't matter what game you are dealing with, how much hype there is, and how much people want to like it, if somethings just not up to scratch it isn't up to scratch.
However, there are also games that are universally derided. They are so bad that when several reviews agree on the bad points, no-one places a question mark as to the integrity of the review in question. Unfortunately for Eidos and all who had a hand in making it, Shellshock 2: Blood Trails is one of those games.
I remember this moment fondly.
QTEs are needed to shake off this crazed assassin.
The opening sequence is however intriguing: misleadingly so. You're in some kind of military hospital with screaming wounded soldiers ringing in your ears. You meet your sergeant, a gruff, no nonsense buzz head who doesn't like you and doesn't really feel he has the time to talk to you. A needle is shoved into your arm. You learn of something called White Knight, have a vision and are thrown into the "action."
The word action is in inverted commas due to the fact that the word itself is open to debate. Basically you go from through corridor to corridor, and get shot at and have to shoot back until no more enemies have spawned or you have completed whatever objective the game has set out for you. At many points throughout the game you find yourself being shot at and haven't the faintest clue where it's coming from. The screen is very dark and there's far too much foliage and too little cover to really feel that you're fully in control. Lucky for you that you can take more bullets than an elephant as you need to look about a bit before you spot your assailant.
The graphics sadly aren't up to much.
"You want a cup of tea or coffee?"
One thing that really sticks out about Shellshock is the sound. There just isn't any. A bid of moody music between levels but in-game it's virtually non existent. The shooter genre is so crowded these days and an inspiring soundtrack can really set the game apart from the rest and more importantly add to the immersion of the game. Also, if you make a game with guns in it, at least make them sound reasonably different and give the damn things some oomph. The various rifles and grenades sound like whet Christmas crackers. Disappointing.
Another element that can save a reasonably poor shooter is the graphics. Sometimes amazing looking environments, textures and lighting can really make the experience enjoyable even if what you're doing is fairly boring in itself. If explosions and death animations are suitable satisfactory, you can while away the hours marveling at how good it looks shooting people in the face. Again, however, Shellshock 2 doesn't really cut it. There's noticeable clipping, low res textures everywhere and far too much green and brown. It's simply a little bit boring to look at.
The final major element that lifts a dire shooter from the mire is co-operative play. There's nothing quite like teaming up with a friend either in your living room or over Xbox Live/PSN and riddle some unsuspecting Viet Con with bullets and mortar fire. However, there's no co-op in Shellshock 2 so that option is out of the window. (Are you noticing the pattern yet).
He's about to get his face shot off.
The crazed, zombified madman doesn't really stand a chance.
However, the hallmark of all shooters today has to be the multiplayer. I know people who own Halo 3 and still have barely touched the single player campaign. There are three camps of KillZone 2 owners, one for the campaign, one for the multiplayer and people who like to dabble in both. You only need to look at Call of Duty: World at War Live stats to see how much life multiplayer can give to a relatively poor and predictable campaign. Shellshock 2, rather surprisingly, has no multiplayer whatsoever, so there's no love to be found there either.
Top Gaming moment:
SHELLSHOCK 2: BLOOD TRAILS VERDICT
I’m not quite sure what the developers of this title were thinking. Did the plug get pulled halfway through development? Did the creative lead get fired and replaced by someone who really didn’t care what the final result was as long at it was finished on time? It’s such a shame, as the premise and setting are rather interesting. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a first person shooter set in the jungle. In fact I can’t remember one this generation. However, Shellshock 2 will only be remembered for how poor it actually is and what might’ve been. If there’s ever going to be a third incarnation then more time, money and creativity needs to be thrown at the franchise. Poor show all round.
TOP GAME MOMENT
The first 5 minutes, it’s only downhill after that.