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TVG heads back to ’Nam and tries to show the VC what for in this title from Eidos…
Beatle-mania, the space race and of course, the hippy movement. The Sixties is looked back with a general fondness amongst the now fifty-somethings of the population, but as recent coverage of this yearâ??s US Presidential race shows, the Vietnam War never strays too far from the minds of the Veterans that fought over in the Jungles, or from those who lost loved ones.
The sheer guts and determination that the soldiers who found themselves on a Tour of Duty over in â??Nam, together with jabs at the titleâ??s competitors, is the inspiration for the promotion of Shellshock, â??No Honour. No Medalsâ?¦Just Survive.â?
With an attitude like that, and the fact that the game has been given a BBFC rated 18 certificate, it would seem on the surface that the developers have really tried to get as realistic a representation of the conditions and the horrific experiences that the US Armed Forces had to face into Shellshock: Nam â??67.
The introduction to the game gives a brief background to the Vietnam War, before launching into a funky rocking song, which judging from the lyrics, I called â??Who do you loveâ?¦?â? Very Sixties American rock, which really sets the tone for as being back in Vietnam, it doesnâ??t just rely on it telling you that the game is set in Nam â?“ it tries to ram the whole atmosphere home to you.
The storyline is essentially this: you are a rookie soldier on his first Tour of Duty to Vietnam. The game follows your character as he progresses through the inhospitable environments and missions, and becomes a fully-fledged covert operations member.
Visually, the game looks grainy and rough, it feels kind of like Sixties news footage from the war. Most of the environments are in shades of washed out greens, browns and dark yellows, which really adds to the aged look of the game. As mentioned above, the game has got an 18 certificate, and the reason for that become clear once youâ??ve seen one of the Vietcongâ??s head pop like a balloon. Bullets tear through the bodies of the enemies, and seeing arms and legs being torn off, and blood spout through the air is sure to get the certain parties in the Newspaper worlds printing the usual video games hate filled propaganda.
The thing is, is that whilst the game is very violent; it is no more violent than war really is. If anything, the game is very much anti-war â?“ even publishers Eidos reveal in their Press Release that it portrays, â??â?¦the brutal atrocities and controversial actions of the Vietnam Warâ?¦â?
The game is viewed in two angles of a third-person perspective. Players can switch from wide angle when running around, and then switch to an almost FPS point-of-view for accurate measured shooting. We donâ??t know whether the game would work better as a full FPS title, or whether this tactic by the developers is the strongest one to take. Running around seems to be a lot slower than in FPS titles, and the camera doesnâ??t seem to work quite as well as in some third-person titles, such as Splinter Cell.
On the bottom-right of the screen, is a Medal of Honour-esque compass, which displays enemy installations, comrades, and objectives as green or red circles and squares. This is something that is very useful, particularly when you find yourself down in the VC tunnels that twist and turn like a maze. On the top-left of the screen is a badge that represents your health. The badge resembles a position of rank, but since none of here at TVG has experience fighting in the US Armed Forces, we are unsure to the actual rank that the badge depictsâ?¦What we do know is that the stripes fills with red the more you get shot, and if all three stripes are filled, then another shot may send you to the great killing fields in the sky.
Shellshock features some really nice looking cut scenes that really help to push the narrative forward. The main thread is the development of your character from Rookie Marine to Special Forces expert. In our opinion, the game only really begins once you start working as Special Forces. The first mission that you work for the SF team, is about 4 missions in to the game. Armed only with a knife, you have to tread carefully behind VC personnel and slit their throats so they wont make a noise. Youâ??ll also have to diffuse the booby-traps that you find along the way.
The booby-traps based on bombs have to be diffused by following the correct path to the detonator. If you do not diffuse the bomb in time, it will go off, severely damaging you, and also announcing your presence to the enemy.
Shellshock looks its best when the missions take place at night. The developers have made the environments look almost ethereal when fog drifts by and the moonlight bathes the world.
The sound effects in the game are great. With bullets zipping past your ear, and the odd shot ricocheting off your helmet, Shellshock really does give you a good sense of what fighting in a war zone may be like. Along with the VC shouting, â??I kill you GIâ?, and, â??We send you home in body bags!â? At least you know that surrender isnâ??t an option for you, or the VC.
Eidos and the developers have taken great pains to point out that the game features authentic weapons from both the sides, including Assault rifles and Rocket-Propelled Grenades. Some of these weapons are more accurate than others, and youâ??ll find yourself picking up some weapons from the corpses of both Marines and Viet Cong.
These days, the demand for increasingly realistic engines in videogames means that developers have been forced to be increasingly intricate in their games. Some games however, just donâ??t seem to have this level of details. For example, for years weâ??ve been told that the reason that Grand Turismo doesnâ??t include damage modelling is because the car manufacturers do not want their cars being â??damagedâ??. But with titles such Project Gotham Racing including damage model even on top of the range cars such as the Ferrari Enzo, the reasons behind the lack of damage on the GT cars seems to suggest another reason. Likewise with Shellshock: Nam â??67. For instance, you can empty as many clips of ammo into the head of one your fellow US soldiers and at worst all youâ??ll get is â??Hey buddy, watch what youâ??re doing.â? You cannot kill your fellow US soldiersâ?¦why? Weâ??re not saying that itâ??s a good move to blast your support into oblivion, but it would be a consequence to taking a gung-ho, guns blaring approach.