Shellshock Nam’67 Preview

My preview of Shellshock Nam’67 went up on yesterday. Here’s a snippet that should give you an idea of what the game is:

The third-person shooter’s main catch seems to be that, unlike other games that remove blood or soften things up in order to get a “T” rating, it gives us a totally unfiltered, over-the-top, gruesome view of a war filled with moral ambiguities. Limbs fly, heads explode like melons, and there’s gore, gore, gore, for the whole family � as long as the whole family is over eighteen, that is! Furthermore, Shellshock’s storyline takes us through some disturbing territory with scenes of torture, mutilation, suicide, murder, and the best vulgarities the English language has to offer.

Shellshock also manages to remedy one of the major shortcomings of action games since the early ’80s: the lack of Vietnamese whores. Yes, that’s right. You can trade in your bloody chits for a pass to the whorehouse situated behind the base. Then just walk up to your choice of prostitute, listen to her torrid come-on, and click the “Do It like Rabbits” icon. I’m not kidding. (Now, I liked DOOM 3, but if it had Martian whores and “Do It Like Space Rabbits” icons, it would have been that much better.)

The guys at GameSpy have put me down to do the full review for the game, which is nice since I really wanted to talk more about its shortcomings, which would have been inappropriate for a preview. It’s a good looking game with adult (read: vulgar) presentation in places, but the gameplay is really not so great. A lot has been made (by the publisher’s marketing department) about how this game is supposed to be comparable to works by film directors Coppola or Stone because of its supposedly “cinematic” feel and unflinching view of the atrocities of war.

That ain’t the case. The game gets the gore and horror of war down all right (though it seemed gratuitous in places), but it completely fails to reach the kind of cinematic feel or pathos you get from movies like Apocalypse Now or Platoon. The characters are shallow –you’re not given any kind of insight into what’s going on with them, what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, or how they’re changing. There’s also little or no continuity to the story –a few cut scenes and mission briefings don’t fit together into a larger, more compelling narrative.

I may be eating crow if the full version is substantially different from the preview code I played, but I doubt it. It seemed pretty complete.

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