Well, I feel like introductions are required, don’t you? I’m Blake, your old man in front of a fireplace and this is a column about games for the poor gamer. Or the cheap gamer, I suppose. Either way, we’ll cover some classics that went unsung, some undiscovered gems and some colossal pieces of shit that are buried in the bargain bin. Now, I bet you’re curious, “Oh dear! I wonder which of these categories shall we see first?” Let me kill the suspension. Gem! Nope, just kidding. Shit. By the way, this column is intended for adults that are 17+. And much like all the games on Xbox live, the age minimum won’t matter at all. By the way #2, the word of the day is, “Colossal”.
Shellshock 2: Blood Trails (which almost warranted a double colon title) is a Vietnam era shooter; minus the Vietnam War, the politics, the horrors of jungle warfare, and the concept of guerrila warfare. Luckily, it does have zombies! Not just any zombies, though! These zombies are just mutated humans from a secret government project. I bet you haven’t heard that before, huh? Not everything can be Inception, right? Yeah, this game is full of surprises and let downs. Mostly let downs, but let’s see what’s ahead!
Let me break down the story for you, my little, sweet potatoes: you play a generic, draftee who has to fight in goddamn V-ET-fuckin’-NAM, who finds out that your other generic draftee brother, Cal, was in a secret project! Holy shining predictability, Batman! <-(I harnessed a swear word there.) So, Cal gets mixed up in some dumb Whiteknight project, blah blah blah, french people, blah blah blah, Vietnam, blah blah blah, zombies. Seriously, if you wanted a storyline, you would’ve payed more than $11 for this game.
Let’s check this game out on it’s core really quick, shall we? It’s an extremely linear first-person shooter, following the examples of Turning Point: Fall of Liberty and Timeshift. Also, if you beat both of those games, I think we’re obligated to fight. Anyway, Shellshock 2 does it’s best to join those colossal crap-heaps by making it impossible to stray off the beaten path. Honestly, Helen Keller couldn’t get lost in Shellshock‘s jungles. Boom. Helen Keller joke. Really, though, you only get to go where the developers want you to. So, if you like running in straight lines and depression, feel free to stay tuned.
Shellshock 2 kind of handles like an old, drunk, Modern Warfare 2. By that, I mean, it has a basic shooter layout, and an iron sights aiming mode. Unlike MW2, you can’t really control where you shoot. Now, I’m all for difficult headshots, but when you go into iron sights and you point right at their head, but when you pull the trigger it flings bullets without a kill, I feel like a mediocre A-Team episode. I mean, is it too much to ask for bullets to go where you aim them? Did they not have that technology in 1970-something? It’s almost easier to aim from the hip and score headshot after headshot than legitimately attempt to play this game!
The zombies have two modes in this, mentally challenged and murdertown. Meaning, they either stand aimlessly and fart or they immediately know your exact location and have deemed your blood the most worthy to spill. Here’s something quasi-unique! There are pre-set, unavoidable sequences where you have to push buttons in order to kill some brain-dead AI. I’m not certain you can actually lose these circumstances unless you’ve fallen asleep or hung yourself out of sheer boredom. Either way, these bits are nothing to be thankful for.
Did I mention that there are only ten levels? How the developers managed to fit a lifetime’s worth of bullshit into only ten levels is a miracle in my eyes, but it’s an extremely short game. Each level either takes place in a jungle, poorly mapped city or a space station. Ok, I’m lying about the space stations. But even I get bored with writing about this shitty game. Level after level, it’s the same dreary shit. “Oh no, a jungle. Oh no, a ruined city. Oh my, a ruined temple in the jungle.” I think the most variety you’ll see is a mineshaft. A Goddamn mineshaft.
So, I realized that my choice of music playing from my iTunes while writing this took more time than the effort in the music of Shellshock 2. Seriously, take that as a hint when playing this. Plug in your iPod, Zune player, PSP, or random MP3 player, because otherwise, you’ll hear a series of one-note songs. Let’s hear the jungle music! *Deep, repeating theme* City music? *Deep, repeating theme* Temple music? *Deep, repeating theme* God, I hate this game.
Now, if you’ve actually suffered through this review, you may be asking why on Earth I would bother with this game? The answer is simple, my friends. Achievement Whore. This title is not just bestowed, but earned. I love getting those achievements. Not just the gamerscore, but that satisfying, “Plun-Plink!”. Damn! That’s what I’m talking about. This game can score you 1000/1000 in a brisk 4 hours. Or, if you drink like me, a brisk week of playing, suffering, giving up and then persevering. I was able to snag all but two achievements in my first playthrough. Just set the difficulty to Ultra-Bullshit, pay attention and kill all son’s of bitches. Whoa. Kill all son’s of bitches, that’s my ‘fficial instructions.
Overall, Shellshock 2: Blood Trails is a colossal dump, wrapped in a garbage can. Seriously, it’s like they were able to turn the nails-on-a-chalkboard sound into a game. Was that too harsh? Nah. It sucks. But, if you have $11, the desire for achievements and some gumption, this game can eventually be a story that you tell your friends. Now, I’m debating how to rate these games, give a “Buy” or “Pass”, a traditional number out of 5 or possibly give complicated negative ratings (1=Decent, 5=Worse than your mother’s Shake Weight). Well, cast your votes if you really care, but for now, I’m going to go with a “Buy” or “Pass” system.
I say you should let Shellshock 2: Blood Trails