|System: PS2, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Point of View||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Aspyr||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 12, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: M||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
You may want to like this game, but it won't let you. Once this game is loaded on your PlayStation 2, you will no longer wonder why Sammy Studios closed its doors. However, you may wonder why Aspyr didn't just leave this game in the videogame graveyard. When first announced, The Shield could have been a nice jolt for Sammy Studios, but after an extensive delay and Sammy stopped making videogames, Aspyr swooped in with Point of View to offer an old game in the same old package.
Vic Makey and his merry crew are having a little bit of trouble. Picking up where the third season's "Money Train" arch ended, the strike team faces disbandment, reassignment, or suspension. So together they devise a plan; if they make a big bust, then they will be able to divert the heat they are facing. After Vic receives a tip about an arms race feud brewing between the Byz-Lats and the One-Niners, the game begins to spiral completely out of control.
You assume the role of tough-as-nails dirty cop Vic Makey where you are given the choice of being as dirty or clean as you want. The basic idea sounds solid enough, but the execution isn't very concrete. The gameplay is nothing new, though if production on the game had kept pace, this game could have avoided being a horrible game. Instead, it is just another bad knock-off of other titles. Mission based, the game actually forces the player into situations to mimic the show, but with each scenario you're forced into, the game feels less and less like the show, aside from the constant swearing and voice acting. While the game is not very strenuous and generally anyone could pick this game and play it with ease in a short period of time, the faults of the game will cause even the experienced gamer to become frustrated.
When chasing a target, sometimes you'll be informed that the target got away before the timer runs out. Sometimes regular missions will end even when you haven't died. The most annoying part of missions is probably trying to partner with a crew member.
Usually you're partnered with Shane Vendrell, but it makes no difference who you're partnered with - the AI is awful. While you are given the option to take cover behind a wall or a box, the AI partner never takes cover. They charge in with guns blazing, and "pop, pop, pop" your mission is over before you can even start it. The annoyances unfortunately don't stop here.
In a game about dirty cops, you would expect a huge arsenal of weapons ala True Crime: New York City. You'd be wrong though; with only three weapons throughout the game, taking down enemies becomes unrealistic. Instead of the usual assortment of weapons that usually come with this genre of game, you are limited to only three throughout the game. The stealth missions of the game don't even qualify as stealth missions, more like "trial and error" until you find the right path. Interrogating a suspect for more information becomes repetitive and annoying as well, since almost always you have to use hand to hand combat with non-responsive controls, before you even start interrogating. This will make you want to run out and buy The Punisher game that actually includes you in the interrogations.
Searching for contraband could have been a huge beacon of light in an otherwise dismal game, but, alas, even this becomes an annoyance. Set-up with a mini-game feel, you have to move a circle that disappears too quickly and moves too slow over just the right spot. If you fail to retrieve the contraband, the guitar rift from the show's main title is blared obnoxiously, but if you succeed, then you can use the contraband for retirement or evidence. This actually comes in handy if you have too much heat on you at any point in the game. Turning it over for evidence will lower your heat; of course, you could plant the evidence on one of the unarmed people that you gunned down. Good times for all.
Graphically, The Shield held no high expectations, though it would have been nice to see background environments that actually tried to match the show. The character models are a little smoother than some of the other games in the genre for the time period, but they still make the character appear misshapen and blocky. The facial textures also fall short while trying to capture the cast. Several times, the camera angles of the cutscenes feel cumbersome and contrived. The grittiness is there, but with a lackluster of detail. "The Shield" falls just as short graphically as it does everywhere else.
The voice acting is really the only saving grace of the game. With the exception of CCH Pounder, the rest of the main cast provides an almost believable script. But even this, disappointingly, becomes troublesome as there are several times throughout the game where you will either hear from Vic or your partner what it is you need to be doing, both beneficial and again annoying. The background voice acting is bland and boring.
For a storyline that is both pointless and lame, considering it takes place almost three years ago according to the show's storyline, The Shield leaves a lot to wish for. Better gameplay, more responsive controls, no bugs or glitches or, even better, for games like this never to be made. If you're the type of gamer that likes to get frustrated by an ill-conceived game, then by all means, this is the game for you. Otherwise, stay as far away from The Shield as possible.
By Matthew Walker
CCC Freelance Writer