Tuesday, January 14, 2014

3 Days of...Shellshock 2: Blood Trails

Horror has a whole new meaning

3 days ago, I gave my word to give this game a fair shot. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it, because it was genuinely not fun. At least the graphic design was decent, for 2008 anyway. For some reference, this is the same year that Left 4 Dead (the original), and Crysis 2 came out.

This really looks pretty good for 2008.
Let me say first of all that the game had excellent visual design, and the graphic art was actually quite enthralling. It's the only thing that I really wanted to post during this article because it truly was the best part and deserves recognition. There were segments of the game that had truly horrific scenes, and were very well placed. The backdrops and lighting were done very well, even if they didn't fit the current mood of the level. 

Now that I've said my peace about the only thing I enjoyed, I'll get to the rest.

Essentially, this is a game that has all the elements that could have made up a proper dark atmospheric FPS. Instead, some poor design choices ruined what could have otherwise been a proper game. The problem is that every element was misplaced, as if they were put in a deck of cards and shuffled. 
Will this guy Zombify and come after you? Nope, he won't.
Many reviewers have said lots of things about the game, and how it was just horrible because of the lack of story, or the poor mechanics. You can definitely notice these things when the game jerks you to a stop to either do a quick time event or to stand in a spot and shoot at hordes of enemies. That's entirely true, but many games have quick time events and arcade-like shooting segments. 

The real problem that I had was the disjointed planning that was apparent every step of the way. There were entirely empty rooms that you pass many times while playing, that could be used to set the scene, but they were barren. The story was instead told in a pie-in-your-face format at the beginning and end of every level. 

The men you fight with during this period (Vietnam War) should be outspoken, and have plenty to say. They should give you a sense of camaraderie, instead they give you the sense that they're targets that fall ineffective for no apparent reason. If only they were as hardy as your character who could sit in an ambush at the base of a gully surrounded by 5 Vietcong and absorb all the bullets from their AK's until you prevail.

You might think this is a Zombie right? Nope, it's not.
During portions of the game, you were pushed into crawling down cramped corridors, and dark portions of the city. It was during this time I expected zombies to attack, as they would later. Indeed I even felt the foreboding sense that something was coming. And then nothing did. Instead the Zombies infected by something called "White Knight" came in the middle of walking down friendly trenches, and then later at an open beach after a dark jungle segment. 

I could monologue about how the zombies should have appeared with the corpses of the tortured and murdered soldiers as an allegory of the inhumanity that we inflict on ourselves. That might have been to much to ask though. The developers were probably busy working on the non-existent HUD, or the 7 weapons total that I counted in the game in the first 5 hours. Maybe they were on developing the audio. The M16's that sounded like sputtering ketchup bottles, or the drum of constant artillery, that was unwarranted and constantly the same distance and rhythm.

The sound, plot, and mechanics all seemed to be fillers while playing. In between the horrifying scenes and magnificent backdrops, lies a poor shooter that seemed to make every design choice in order to be as awkward as possible. In other words this game makes for a wonderful lesson on how NOT to make a suspenseful shooter. Which is unfortunately exactly what it is.

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