Thursday, 11 March 2010

Shellshock 2: Blood Trails - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

Shellshock 2: Blood Trials is a low budget first person zombie survival horror set during the Vietnam war. Shellshock: Nam 79 was also set during the Vietnam war, but was a serious third person shooter, though just as gory, featuring lots of popping heads and swearing. Perhaps it was a natural path to follow for the sequel descending into fantasy horror with zombies, as it is just as serious and bleak as the first. 
You play as Walker; an American drafted into the Vietnam war. You are brought to an outpost on the edge of the conflict due to your brother Cal. Cal had been with a squad of soldiers who had headed into the jungle to retrieve an American weapon with the code name 'Whitenight'. However all contact was lost with the squad until a week later Cal turned up psychotically insane. The Army hope that him seeing his brother will return him to his senses so that he can tell them what he knows about Whitenight. Moments after you meeting him however your base is attacked by the Viet-cong, in the chaos Cal escapes his restraints and charges off into the jungle. The rest of the game sees you hunting down your brother, as well as avoiding the Viet-cong led by a man called Trang (searching for Whitenight for himself), and avoiding the victims of a zombie outbreak caused by your brother.

The games overall look and feel is that of a dodgy low budget 80's b-movie. The grimy violence, and gore, the unlikeable characters, and silly storyline combine for a almost later grind house feel. By the games end you have been involved in a car crash, several boat crashes, as well as several helicopter crashes. You have leaped out the way of falling rubble in-numerable times, and avoided jungle traps many times also.

At times the game is fantastically atmospheric. The opening level where the outpost is under attack is tenseful as you sneak through darkened rooms, and across balcony's while people scream in the distance. A later level set in a mansion at night is excellent, with zombies stumbling around every corner, Viet-cong fighting zombies outside. Other levels are not so good. A level where you are escaping a Viet-cong encampment is annoying due to the enemy firing though walls at you with un-nerving accuracy, and some levels are just too dark to enjoy, even with your flashlight on the way forward is confusingly frustrating.

The enemies as already said consist of Viet-cong, and zombies. Viet-cong are quite weak, but usually armed with machine guns and in groups. Zombies on the other hand are weaponless, and come in running and shambling varieties. The running ones can be a pain, especially in the darker levels where they are on you before you have even seen them. As is usually the case, head shots instantly kill them (usually with their heads popping in a satisfying way), other body shots are alarmingly ineffectual for the most part.

Weapons are numerous, but ammo isn't. A really annoying design of the game is that even to collect ammo you have to press a button, rather than just walk over it. Add to this fact that it is very hard to collect weapons or ammo if your being attacked leads to some frustrating moments. There are many bottle neck moments when you are under attack and tasked with just holding out until all are dead, these are more numerous than needed in my opinion, and sometimes the opposite happens; enemies constantly respawn until you get to a certain point. Locations are ok, a bit bland at times with caves, and wooden bases being the norm, The game consists of around 10 shortish levels, bookended with explosions and air lifts.

At £5 this is worth a purchase, just be aware it is low budget, and partly broken. It features lots of zombies, so that has one thing going for it.


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