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ShellShock: Nam ’67 Review

Developer: Guerilla Games Publisher: Eidos
Release Date: September 10, 2004 Available On: PC, PS2, and Xbox

The Vietnam War might have ended in the early 1970’s, but for gamers, it’s just begun. While WWII has seen countless numbers of games and series, Vietnam has been overlooked. I find two possible reasons for this: the war was a controversy that bitterly divided the country. Unlike WWII, America lost Vietnam, and in the process, we lost nearly 60,000 young soldiers. Basing a game off of a hot-button war might have been seen as risky business, whereas WWII showed America’s triumph over the fascists.

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Another reason might be the jungle landscape. It’s much easier to construct European villages and streets, and give them a sense of uniqueness, than it would be to do the same to a jungle setting. That’s possibly why we haven’t seen many WWII games based in the Pacific, because the setting was in tropical jungles, which developers would be less familiar with than cities.

Guerilla Games has tackled the challenge of a game based on the Vietnam War. You’re placed in a 1967 American base in Vietnam, where you’ll combat enemies both in villages, farmland, lush forests, shallow water, and cities. Your character will man a mounted-machine gun both from a helicopter and from the ground, to wipe out swarms of enemies. You’ll also have access to a nice amount of weaponry, though I don’t claim to be a weapons expert, so I couldn’t recite what they were called. You will, however, have access to a sniper rifle, among other things, of which you are given nightvision goggles in one level. Aside from your primary gun, you’ll also have grenades, a pistol, and/or a knife.

ShellShock claims to be the game for realism. If by realism, Eidos means your comrades never die, then yeah, this game is realistic. The enemy A.I. might not be Conflict: Desert Storm dumb, but these guys definitely belong in Special Ed. You’ll fire at someone from within a room, and another person in that room might not notice that the person accompanying them in that room is now dead. Also, when you’re flanking a group of enemies, oftentimes they will ignore that they are being shot at, giving you a feeble target.

While the Viet Cong might not be the smartest army, they make well with their people advantage. These guys are fearless, they’ll charge you without hesitation, delivering their scripted line in English. It’s not even broken English; since when did the Viet Cong have English degrees?

Most of the missions in the game are killing everything from point A to point B, obtaining information, a radio, or something else, releasing POW’s, and getting back to an extraction point, which isn’t even necessary in a large number of levels. There’s no real suspense, other than a grenade toss here and there from an enemy, unsuspectingly. There are also booby traps, which theoretically should put you out of commission, but not in this game. Instead, you’ll walk away with a small amount of lost health.

ShellShock lives up to the violence hype. You’ll see a lot of killing of civilians, napalm drops, and in one cut-scene, you’ll see a female being beaten for information, then seconds later, her throat is slit. This isn’t exactly the expectations bar that I wanted to be met, but if you’re the weirdo out there that likes to see brutal beatings of innocent people, you should like this game.

Think of Nam 67 as Medal of Honor, in 3rd person, in Vietnam. Take that as you will, but for me, the game fell short of potential. Eidos delayed the release from June of this year, until September, supposedly because they had a strong enough 2nd quarter as it was, but the truth is probably that the game needed some fine-tuning. To be candid, it still needs some work, but for the military enthusiasts out there, consider adding this to your collection.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 5.7
Written by Kyle Review Guide