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The Shield - PS2 - Review

The mean streets of Los Angeles can swallow a cop whole if said cop doesn’t watch his or her back, and worst yet the crime rate never seems to go down in this town … it’s enough to make a cop think that it’s almost not worth risking life for a measly paycheck. Then again, Detective Vic Mackey has gotten over it by keeping all the cash and contraband found in a crime scenes for his, well, retirement. Based on the hit show on the FX channel, The Shield: The Game is joining the ranks of Alias, The X-Files and 24: The Game on the PS2. Unfortunately, even with the show’s controversial subject matter and powerful characters, this game just isn’t entertaining at all.

 

You assume the role of Vic Mackey, a Detective and leader of the Strike Team police unit that cleans the streets their own way while collecting any money or other contraband that makes up their “retirement fund.” Taking place after the events seen in the third season (and before the beginning of the fourth), the Strike Team finds itself one man short and now Shane is threatening to leave. It’s also no surprise that Captain Aceveda is threatening to disband the Strike Force if nothing is done about the growing threat of two rival gangs, the Byz-Lat and the One-Niner gangs. So it’s up to Vic and his team to put an end to the gangs while making some money on the side.

This, of course, means that Vic and his team will do anything to get the job done and, for a team that’s never heard of the words “police brutality,” this means you’ll apply any force necessary to complete each segment. You’ll participating in planting drugs in a gangbanger’s house, interrogate another gangster by smacking him in the face with a phone book and then putting a bullet into a scum bag who was about to give them up in court. Ah, it’s just another day in the life of Mackey only the story isn’t deep or involving or filled with interesting twists.  In fact, the weak story is but the start of the train wreck that is the game.

Part of the show’s focus is on the way Mackey and his team pick up contraband and here it is done in a search mini-game that’s uninventive and complex. A badge icon will appear and you’ll move the left analog stick until the L disappears. Yeah, it’s not my idea of a fun mini-game and the bad part is that this is the only way to find hidden goodies around the areas you’ll visit. Then the game adds some stealth moments that doesn’t really work. There are a few times I stumbled my way past a meat plant while bad guys were mere inches away and another time I was spotted while behind a wall.

 

There are also moments where you’ll need your gun and by the time you get into your first gunfight you’ll start wishing you went back to the awful stealth moments or the jerky fistfights (more on that in a second). You’ll have a limited amount of ammo in this game and that’s fine seeing that this is realistic but does it have to take a complete clip to bring a bad guy down. At one point I had to waste one clip, reload, and then pump three extra rounds to bring a dangerous gangster down. Sure you can bring them down faster with a headshot but the shooting controls are so clumsy that you’ll have to be really up close to put a bullet into some bad guy’s cranium. Worst yet are the fistfight controls that will have Vic punching a suspect for several minutes before the takedown option comes up. It’s even hard to put cuffs on a guy since it turns into a lame mini-game where you have to rotate the right analog stick various times before the suspect turns and slaps you in the face.

Lastly, there’s very little that has you feeling like you’re actually participating in an episode of the show. 24: The Game at least had breaks in the action and the familiar clock that’s counting down. Instead, the game places no emphasis on character development and no surprising twists. You go from scene to scene while stopping at The Barn to drop off contraband for the “retirement fund” while getting a tongue-lashing from the Captain. Sure you can push the police brutality envelope as far as you can but even this feels very limited thanks to the annoying Heat meter. 

On the graphics front, The Shield manages to render the character models exactly like the real actors on the show so expect Vic to look exactly like Michael Chiklis during the cut scenes as well as during the game’s action. What doesn’t work, however, are the environments that - while filled with plenty of detail - look washed out for a PlayStation 2 game. And while the game uses the show’s intro in the beginning of the game, it loses the overall presentation that would have been great for fans of the show.

 

The sound is something of a disappointment especially when it comes to the voice acting. There are times when the acting is handled well during certain cutscenes but then again there are times when the delivery is wooden.  Very little effort has also been placed on the sound effects. There are no barking dogs in these empty neighborhoods and The Barn sounds just as lifeless as it looks on the game so you won’t hear ringing telephones or catch other officers in conversation. Even the bullets sound lifeless in this game. At least the soundtrack is true to the show and gets dramatic at all the right moments.

As a game, The Shield for the PS2 lacks the intensity and the gritty drama that the show throws at its viewers since it was introduced to us. It also lacks any fun or a story that is able to captivate gamers and throw them into the role of a protagonist that is so bad he’s so good to watch. As a loyal viewer of the show, I cannot recommend this game to anyone. If you must, please rent this game but anyone looking for a fun game where you play a cool rogue cop will only find great disappointment.

Review Scoring Details for The Shield: The Game

Gameplay: 3.2
Clunky controls make Vic Mackey a very clumsy dirty cop who easily gets a beating if it comes to fistfights, gets blown away during gunfights or gets caught while attempting to sneak into places. Forget the aiming reticule because he won’t hit his target unless the suspect is up close and grilling bad guys is a major chore. Add all these things together and we get a game that isn’t fun at all.

Graphics: 4.5
Dull backgrounds with washed out textures will greet you throughout the game but at least the character models slightly resemble the show’s actors during cutscenes and during the game’s action. The game attempts to bring the same flashy presentation seen on TV but it just doesn’t work out the way it should have from start to finish.

Sound: 4.0
The voice acting occasionally goes from pretty good to pretty wooden throughout the game and the sound effects are very limited. The show’s music is present and it does a great job of setting the mood just right.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
The game isn’t hard to figure out so the real challenge comes in the gun battles and the stealth elements. What makes this game hard isn’t the AI or challenging stealth moments but rather the awful controls and the poor aiming. Also, why does it take a whole clip to bring down a bad guy?

Concept: 3.5
Vic Mackey is as tough as it gets and the game does manage to portray him in the same light as the show. The story and situations, on the other hand, just aren’t as interesting as the show. Sure you get to kick down doors and push a suspect’s head in a toilet but that’s as far as it goes. The search mini-game is also seriously lame.

Overall: 3.0
Sadly, The Shield: The Game plays like a bad episode of the show and there is hardly anything here that will entertain fans of the show or gamers who are looking for a gritty action game. How can a game that stars a dirty cop who is willing to do anything it takes be this boring? Sorry but this is one game everyone should just skip.

Poor

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