In Rebellion's heyday, they were praised for their games. Now, they're being constantly insulted by critics and gamers alike. Why? They still have the same talent in most of their games (unlike Rogue Warrior. Yuck). With Shellshock 2, they received a saddening average of 30 out of 100 for the 360 version. That average is too low. This is one of the most underrated games of this generation and such a shame that it is.
You play as Nate Walker, brother of Cal Walker, the lone survivor from the first game. Shortly after you're drafted into Vietnam, you learn of Whiteknight. It is essentially a virus that zombifies everyone, making them stupid and massacring their former allies. An virus that causes a country to implode. You hear the screams of the infected. Their pain. But Cal... Cal is different. Despite being infected, he remembers Nate. It doesn't take long for Cal to escape. Your job is to reunite with him. For me, the story was great. You attempt to find your brother and Whiteknight , save Vietnam from a gruesome death, and escape to tell the tale. Its pretty simple, but is executed in a glamorous fashion.
The fashion is really in the atmosphere. From the crying babies, constant screaming, bloody walls, ambushed soldiers, dogs eating dead humans, and the cramped tunnels that guarantee death of your allies, it screams Hell. Not a minute went by when I didn't think Vietnam was a crappy place to be. Since half of Earth is a living hell, I'm surprised by how great of a job Rebellion did to differentiate Vietnam from the rest of the horror hell-holes. Its a great setting and it immerses you into the experience, but only to a point.
Some things remind you that you're playing a game. For whatever reason, only select weapons can be picked up, the disappointing graphics in the beginning levels of the game (though they start to drastically improve by the third level), unsatisfying weapon sounds, and some sensitivity and control issues pull of out of the experience. From a game with imaginative locales and a great sense that you're actually in the game, these issues are jarring. Not to mention a weird framerate that switches from smooth to slight slowdown when nothing is happening on-screen. Despite these flaws, the overall presentation is great, especially by the end and is one of the game's strongest aspects.
But that isn't to say that the gameplay isn't great. It has the flaws, like the aforementioned framerate, but it is surprisingly solid. The pacing is great with a stiff challenge at the end, but the ending is almost anti-climactic. It has a boss, but not in the traditional sense. Rebellion just shoved in an enemy type that had been used around three other times in the game and called it a boss. However, with almost no ammo at the end, it can be a boss. Though, most players wouldn't have made my mistake I made before entering that final room and probably wouldn't have thought much of it. Speaking of the ending, it is satifying enough by both endings, both of them being pretty depressing, but they fit the mood perfectly and are solid conclusions to a short, 10-mission game, arriving at around 6 and a half hours.
As said in my Rogue Warrior review, gamerscore whores should take note. Completing the game on easy gets you a nice 50, on Normal, 150, and hard awards you with a stunning 200 gamerscore points. So, completing the game thrice gives you 400 points, not even including the achievements that you get in the gameplay for doing something you would've ended up doing anyway... like, killing 5 enemies with a single clip from an AK47 or M16.
Shellshock 2 is a solid purchase at the price that it is going at now. At the former $60, I wouldn't have recommended it because of the game's short length, but $13 at GameStop is a killer deal for what you're getting. And what you're getting is a solid, fun game that rewards you with a crapload of gamerscore points/trophies in an atmospheric world with a compelling story and great pacing. It may be rough around the edges, but I can't recommend this title enough.