It looks like the Vietnam War is quickly becoming the new World War II. ShellShock: Nam '67 is the second Vietnam War-themed shooter to be released in as many weeks, and another three will arrive in stores over the next month. ShellShock attempts to differentiate itself from the pack by threatening to provide a disturbing level of realism, or, as the official Web site puts it, "the shocking realities and tragedies of what actually happened out in the jungle." Unfortunately, what this means in practical terms is that ShellShock is a run-of-the-mill shooter with periodic interruptions for bad language and really violent cutscenes.
Aimlessly wandering around base camp.
The box lists "character growth" as one of the game's key features. "Develop from a fresh rookie to a hard-edged Special Forces operative," it reads, the implication being that there's some sort of skill- or character-advancement system present in the game. This is a classic example of disingenuous marketing-speak. The only character growth occurs during a short cutscene in which your character, as promised, is promoted from a fresh rookie to a Special Forces operative. Which has exactly zero effect on gameplay.
ShellShock's promise of "brutal realism" also turns out to be somewhat hollow. Your character--controlled throughout the game from a third-person perspective--can carry only a few weapons at a time: one pistol, one large gun, and some grenades. And that's pretty much where the realism ends. In fact, ShellShock has one of the least realistic damage models of any recent military shooter. Your health bar regenerates over time, so healing is simply a matter of finding a safe place to stand around for 5 or 10 seconds.
For the majority of the game's missions, you're accompanied by a squad of indestructible computer-controlled grunts (though they'll sometimes die--usually horribly--as part of a cutscene). The presence of teammates makes many of the firefights feel like an actual battle between two groups of soldiers. But your squad also provides constant cover, making it easy to fall back and heal, which often robs the game of much challenge. Even with its checkpoint save system, most of the game's 13 missions won't take more than 30 minutes to complete. A few take as little as 15.