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Which game are you looking forward to the most?

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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
Point of View
GENRE: Action
January 16, 2007
The Shield

The Shield

 Written by Matt Swider  on March 07, 2007

Review: This game is for anyone that enjoyed watching Daddio.

The Shield is a gripping cable television drama about corrupt police officers; it enters its sixth season this month. The Shield video game is based off of the FX Network hit and is just corrupt; it shouldn't have finally released this past month. Alas, publisher Aspyr gave this once cancelled PS2 and PC title a second chance in an effort to turn it into another TV-series-to-video game success like 24: The Game. The problem is that playing as a virtual Vic Mackey is not nearly as fun as a polygonal Jack Bauer because this copycat third-person action game is buggy, lackluster and more boring than Daddio.

The game's video introduction attempts to condense three seasons into a short two-and-a-half minutes. It ends up being jumpy and uninteresting unlike the smooth and addictive cable series. Anyone who hasn't seen an episode of The Shield gains very little knowledge about the show's premise and receives almost no information about its main characters. Fans who have tuned in regularly or who own the DVDs should be able to catch on that it occurs between seasons three and four. The Strike Team, a four-member anti-gang unit headed by Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), is falling apart. Lem, the most morally responsible detective in the group, pushes away from his corrupt partners. Meanwhile, upstairs is looking to phase out the special team. Facing reassignment, the three remaining members, Vic, Shane and Ronnie have to make a big bust in order to keep the Strike Team relevant and intact.

The story is filled with drugs, gangs, police brutality, cover-ups and sexual content. Don't worry, though. None of the partial nudity involves Chiklis. What everyone should worry about is the bastardized presentation of The Shield. Its choppy script, deformed characters and bare-bones environments define this ?gritty? series in all of the wrong ways. It actually makes you want to watch the show less instead of acting like a promotion tool. The only adequate aspect of the presentation is the audio. The music is exactly what you would hear in an episode and the series' memorable, if not overplayed theme can be heard throughout. Likewise, the lines by the actors are convincing, but in-game dialogue is often repeated over and over again. The style of The Shield is clearly lost in this poorly designed last-generation game.

Graphics don't mean everything and The Shield incorporates a number of different gameplay types. Unfortunately, they're all boring. The stealth levels are very basic: crouch near the ground to stay covert, sidle up against walls to stay out of sight and sneak past enemies' backs to see the level to its end. Shooting isn't much more exciting, either. The over-the-shoulder perspective works, but being able to take cover immensely reduces your chances of being shot. Your only real concern ends up being the safety of your dimwitted AI partner that loves being in the line of fire.

Situations that call for exploration often times give little direction on where to go or what to do in rooms. Once you find out which part of the level you're supposed to be in, the mini-game used for obtaining evidence is tedious and unexciting. Whenever you examine a certain part of a room, a shield appears on screen with a moveable hot-cold circle. Quickly moving that circle until it becomes redder and smaller means that you have successfully uncovered illegal drugs or a weapon. Obviously, whoever thought of this mini-game was on the same drugs featured in the game.

Interrogation is a gameplay type in which specific directions are given, but its easy to comprehend nature doesn't make it any more fun. It's missing the intensity of the TV show's riveting questioning sequences. Chase levels are similarly not heart-pounding experiences. There are boxes to jump over and fences to scale, but most of the objects in your way can be evaded easily, making for walk-in-the-park gameplay.

The moral decisions that you make are the only special aspect found in The Shield. Put confiscated weapons, drugs and money in the station's evidence locker and lower your ?heat shield? on the HUD. Doing this allows you to get away with more shady behavior without getting busted. Put the evidence in your personal locker instead to increase your retirement fund. Of course, it doesn't help that profiting from your mission discoveries serves in extending the game time.

Besides thinking about the consequences of your actions, there's nothing else noteworthy about this game. There's no multiplayer and the unlockable extras are some of the worst I've seen in a video game. Who wants to see a seven-second computer model of The Shield characters? Initially, I thought I accidentally pressed something wrong to end this worthless extra and there was something more to it. Just like the game, there was less than I had hoped for.

Bottom Line
The Shield should have stayed cancelled for the sake of the show and for the sake of everyone that plays this game. Sparse level designs and first-generation-like PS2 graphics are combined with unintelligent and unoriginal gameplay for the most corrupt television-to-game package in a long time. We might all be lucky that there is a lack of extra features to have to endure in this truly ?gritty? video game.

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