2009 Reviews

Shellshock 2: Blood Trails

  • Review Date: 2012-07
  • Release Date: 2009-02
  • Developer: Rebellion Developments
  • Rating: 6.0

Rebellion Developments have been around since the early 90's creating games for consoles and PC. They created Aliens vs Predator in 1999, but more recently the third person shooter Rogue Trooper, which I scored a 6.5/10. Not bad, so it was worth giving Shellshock 2 a try, the sequel to Shellshock: Nam '67, which was poorly received a game I skipped. Guerilla Games created the original, and they ended up moving to a new franchise after that game - the hugely popular Killzone. Just goes to show that you can't judge a studio by their very first game.

Rebellion, despite a lot of titles, never creates greatly received games. For PC's they followed Shellshock 2 up with the complete flop Rogue Warrior in 2009 and then Aliens vs Predator in 2010 and Sniper Elite 2012 - both with very average aggregate review scores under 70% on Metacritic.

I guess what they're best at doing is dumbed-down simple games. Shellshock 2 is simply an old skool shooter dressed in a modern engine. There's no exploration, all the levels are completely linear and fairly small.

The shooting is as basic as it gets. You have a melee attack, a handgun and more powerful gun. The guns themselves are either single shot or rapid-fire, with the penultimate level finally giving you something different in the form of a shotgun.

The enemies are all idiots and will just charge at you. There's little A.I. here. They range from normal gun toting humans to zombies. Yes, I said it, plain old zombies. Some can be quite quick but most of them go down quite easily without even wasting your bullets. I took on five zombies at once just hitting them with the melee attack on my main weapon. There are a few encounters that get a bit more frantic, including the final battle.

Ultimately the zombies provide very simple combat, the humans slightly more entertaining but nothing we haven't seen in every other realistic shooters. Except that enemies can be very difficult to spot sometimes and can shoot through some walls, which really increased my annoyance.

There are also a lot of points where you need to pick of multiple spawns of enemies before you can continue, sometimes with an MG nest. Only the spawn points are often quite close by and you can watch the enemies spawn in!

On a fun factor level, Shellshock 2 isn't too bad. It's just a plain shooter experience with a bit of melee and the odd quicktime event thrown in.

The game can be a little tense at times, as much of it takes place in darker settings. The sounds of zombies in the distance, babies crying, you're own heartbeat loudly pumping and suddenly you're confronted with zombies all around you. The constant massacred bodies of soldiers lying around. Rebellion achieved a good level of fear in this game, sometimes to the point of feeling like a survival horror game. The downside of survival horrors is a major lack of ammo, and in Shellshock 2 you never really have much ammo. I think I only ran out once in the game, but your magazine is small so you're always under threat of reverting back to melee attacks. And once the zombies became prevalent, melee combat does become more common.

The visuals aren't too bad in Shellshock 2 either. You can't go in expecting it to be as good looking as 2008/2009's top tier titles. But there were times I was quite satisfied, in particular with the jungle temples and small villages. The vegetation can't compare to Crytek's mighty engine and as I said above, the levels are all very linear and not sprawling at all, but the engine itself was pretty enough to lift it above most budget releases for 2009. Of course, this probably wasn't a budget release title!

Overall you won't spend much more than five hours on this game. The story is okay, the visuals decent enough. The gameplay and combat is simple shooter mechanics. Fine for me, and I'd probably play it again one day! It doesn't start off too well, but the game does get better as you go.

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