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Shellshock Nam '67 PC DVD-ROM

Published by Eidos
Developed by Guerilla
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

Whilst games based on World War II are hugely popular and always in demand the same cannot be said for games based on other wars. The chance to put one over on Hitler or the Nazis has always had mass appeal because they are depicted as the common enemy. With other wars though the rights and wrongs are not always clear and personally I think this is why games based on these wars are not so popular. Still, with there already being a multitude of World War II games out there it's time for something different and the current preferred flavour of war based games is the Vietnam war. There are several games based on the Vietnam war due to arrive before the year's out and the first of these games to hit the shop shelves is Shellshock Nam '67.

As the title suggests the game is set in 1967 with the character you control a raw recruit who's just stepped into the thick of the action. Throughout the game you'll progress through the ranks as you gain experience (and the death rate leads to promotion opportunities no doubt). The game claims to have 'gritty content' and 'unconventional warfare' amongst other things. The Viet Cong traps are certainly unconventional and the warfare can be pretty gruesome but it's not anything radically different. Throughout the game you'll earn chits which can be used to buy a whole range of things (even sexual favours from the local ladies which thankfully isn't graphically portrayed). There's a nice range of weapons but you're limited in what you can carry although it's not completely realistic in this respect.

Shellshock Nam '67 is a third person shooter that's also appeared on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It's worth mentioning this because the game feels and plays like a console third person shooter. It's kind of difficult to put into words but the game just doesn't feel like a PC shooter. Sure PC shooters are usually FPS games but when you look at Max Payne it becomes evident that a third person shooter can feel comfortable on the PC. There are a few issues that I have with Shellshock. You can't jump for instance and this becomes annoying. At times you're in a difficult position, or in a position where you are a virtual foot away from an important location that would be easy to get to or out of, but because you can't jump you find yourself having to backtrack and find an alternate route which becomes cumbersome. Also we see the console style checkpoint save system being used so you can't save just anywhere you want to. This isn't really a problem though but it can be an inconvenience if you don't have much time to play the game.

Graphically Shellshock Nam '67 doesn't look too bad although it's not up to the high standards that we've seen on the PC over the last twelve months. The game has a grainy look to it, in a similar way to the Silent Hill games you could say, which kind of adds to the illusion that you're playing out events from history. Although the game does look fairly good it's console roots come shinning through. Draw distance is not very impressive and you'll see objects such as trees etc. draw before your very eyes. Character animations are also unrefined and the character models fall short of what the most recent FPS games offer on the PC. Textures can also be a little bland in places too. Despite the lack of visual quality the frame rate remains conservative although to it's credit it remains constant and offers a smooth playing experience.

Thankfully Shellshock Nam '67 has subtitle options although they are not on by default. The subtitles will enable you to enjoy the game's cutscenes and orders that you are given. Conversations are subtitled too. Objectives are also shown in text and you are notified in text when an objective has been completed or a new one has been given out. Not all speech within the game is subtitled but all the important stuff is. Icons are also used with good effect in the game. You'll see speech bubble icons if you approach a person with whom you can converse with as well as the double bunny icon that appears if you approach a woman with whom you can 'relax with'. You have an onscreen compass which will help navigate you towards your objectives and your health is visually displayed too. The manual is brief and to the point which is useful should you need to quickly refer to it.

Shellshock Nam '67 is a game that's probably best experienced on a console as it's a game that definitely seems to have been designed with a console in mind. Those looking for a decent Vietnam based shooter but found Vietcong too infuriating might appreciate the more straight forward approach of Shellshock. That's not to say the AI doesn't offer a challenge, it does quite well in fact, but the emphasis is not so much on sneaking around as it was in Vietcong. Then again there is the problem of the game's brevity and virtually zero replay value. You'll do well to get any more than 6 hours play from the game and with no multi player modes that's pretty much it unless you fancy going back and attempting a different difficulty level which most probably won't want to do. Shellshock Nam '67 isn't a bad game but it struggles at times to keep it's head above the waters of mediocrity and this will come as a disappointment to those who were expecting a lot more.

Overall Game Rating: 5.8/10
Shellshock Nam '67 is mildly enjoyable in places but it's probably not the game most were expecting it to be.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Some speech is not subtitled but all the important parts are.