previews\ Oct 25, 2006 at 8:00 pm

The Shield - PS2 - Preview 2

You’re detective Vic Mackey, one of the toughest men on television. You take crap from no one. You push perps around like Jack Bauer pushes terrorists. If there’s a job that needs to be done, you’ll do what it takes to make sure it’s successfully completed.

…Which is why it came as a shock to find Vic in an unexpected life-or-death situation. It’s not that the show hasn’t gone to great lengths to surprise its audience, but there are certain things you do expect. And then there are things you never expect.


The game began with Vic deep inside a crime house. He was searching for anything illegal – anything that could be used against this scum in a court of law. Searching for contraband leads to an unusual mini-game: you move a cursor around Vic’s badge, hoping to find its sweet spot. The sweet spot is determined by the size of the cursor. The smaller it gets, the closer you are to finding what you’re looking for. If your circle is big, chances are you’re not going to have success.

You could play around with it for a while, but there’s no time. Every item retrieval scenario is timed. Vic might have located the area where the perp hid thousands of dollars worth of drugs. But if you can’t move the cursor over his badge fast enough, the item will be lost forever.

The slow introduction is sped up, then slammed into a wall at 80 miles per hour when the homeowner returns. He’s the scum of the Earth, and not just for selling drugs and illegal weaponry. He pulls a gun on Vic. The game continues its dispersion of tutorial windows, informing you of what to do. Most of these are guidelines to help you along the way. None of them were enforced, or actually had to be completed… Or so I thought.

Staring down the barrel of a gun, I’m told to pull the trigger and take out the enemy. It’s a strange request. It’s the only way, I’m warned. I don’t believe it. Games have dabbled in this before. Developers always give you a way out – a way to arrest the guy. It was my first enemy. How could he possibly be that dangerous? Games never start out with a headshot… Or so I thought.

I waited one second too long. He fired a shot right through the Vic's head, which killed him instantly. I couldn’t believe it. What I was told was true – there is no way to arrest the enemy. He won’t put down his weapon. He won’t go quietly. He’ll keep fighting until someone stops him from fighting. Permanently.

What happens next? I couldn’t tell you. Vic was dead, so I’m not ruling out “Game Over.” Ironically, the preview build chose this point to crash. It was almost fitting, considering I had to re-start anyway.

I started a new game, went back to the house, acquired more contraband, and put a bullet in the perp’s head the minute he appeared. This time I was going to continue my mission.

The Shield is dark, gritty, and features an incredible polygon adaptation of actor Michael Chiklis. You won’t believe your eyes. His character model is nearly on par with Vin Diesel’s character model in The Chronicles of Riddick.

During the game’s interactive introduction, the names of each actor flashes on the screen. Second prior, the game opened with a full-motion video clip compilation from the TV series. Load times were fairly long, most notably in between the actors’ names and the gameplay scenarios. Hopefully this is an issue that is already being addressed. I can’t imagine the finished product not running as smoothly as the TV series, or at least as other PlayStation 2 games.

The Shield’s gameplay is like any third-person shooter, with a stronger emphasis on character interaction and contraband retrieval. You’ll be playing that badge mini-game a lot, it appears. And with simple actions – like the Solid Snake-inspired wall-hug – applied to one of four face buttons (designated on-screen, a la The Legend of Zelda), who knows what other gameplay scenarios or mini-games might appear?


The Shield is due this December.

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