The Shield Review
The brutal TV drama blows up on the PS2.
January 23, 2007 - If your idea of a quality gaming experience is slamming your fist into your couch in frustration, then The Shield may very well be for you. It's a game that offers gameplay so simplistic you'll have learned every twist and turn within a minute of playing. Even then, some of the action sequences, as brief as they are, manage to incite aggravation through imprecision. If you're a fan of the show, you'd be better off avoiding this one, as it makes great strides to damage the otherwise high-quality of the franchise.
The narrative starts out with the Strike Team in hot water, as usual. Lem backs out, claiming Vic Mackey's behavior is too reckless. With their numbers reduced to three, Aceveda threatens to liquidate the team if they don't make a high profile bust to impress the brass. He tips off Mackey to some gang-related gun deals, and so the game begins. Along the way there are a few complications with a misplaced brick of poisoned heroin, but the gameplay is so boring you'll soon lose all interest in where the plot meanders.
Playing as Vic Mackey from a third person perspective, you'll engage in a few kinds of gameplay, mainly stealth, shooting, interrogation, and chasing. As you hunt around gang apartments, warehouses, and porn shops, you'll search for drugs and weapons using a bizarre mini-game that requires you to pass a circle over a shield icon. As you move the circle around, it changes in size. If you shrink the circle enough, you find the evidence. Should you not shrink the circle enough, you fail the search and for some reason can't try again. Apparently things disappear after an initial search effort, just like in real life.
Interrogation sequences are perhaps the most distinct aspect of The Shield's gameplay. Sometimes you'll need to slam a foe's face into a stove, or toilet, or barrel, to procure information. To get the answers you're looking for, you're required to hit a sequence of face buttons on your controller. It's not hard to do, and can even be successfully completed on the highest difficulty setting by mashing random buttons since there's no penalty for hitting the wrong one.
The few sneaking sequences in the game don't require much effort. Simply duck and advance when the enemies have their backs turned. Chase sequences call for you to run forward and occasionally hit the square button to hop an obstacle. Shooting stages are more involved, but also the least enjoyable part of the game. You'll get a few different guns, including a pistol, shotgun, and SMG. Mackey has the ability to take cover behind objects and lean out to shoot, kick open doors, and roll around. Enemies will do the same, but their behavior is generally so stupid all you'll be doing is pointing and shooting anyway. They also have an uncanny ability to know exactly when you're going to pop out of cover, resulting in frequent game reloads and possibly bloodcurdling screams of ultimate irritation on your part. There's also the problem of AI companions getting themselves frequently killed, resulting in a game reload.
If you keep killing enemies, your heat level will go up. If it fills up all the way, the game ends. Since Mackey's a cop, he's apparently not supposed to be going around on killing sprees, even though that's exactly what the game has you do. To bring down the heat meter, Mackey can arrest enemies after shooting them until they surrender (that doesn't make sense to us either), punching them a bunch of times, or grabbing them then punching them a bunch of times. After throwing them to the ground and slapping on cuffs, Mackey's heat meter cap is then freed up so he can kill at least another five to six people without worry. For those keeping track at home, that means one arrest legitimizes five to six kills.
Between missions you'll frequently find yourself in the Barn, also known as The Shield's police station, which appears here very much like it is in the show. Mackey can further lower heat by turning in objects pilfered from gang strongholds to an evidence locker, or stash them in his personal locker to add to his retirement fund totals. You can also run around and engage in idiotic two line conversations with other characters from the show milling around the Barn.
The game has numerous unlockables, all of which even a hardcore fan would dismiss as useless. Though the voice acting is pretty good in spots and includes some talent from the TV program's cast, none of the dialogue is even close to the crisp, biting linguistic jabs from the show. You'll hear the theme song when you turn the game on and a few catchy metal riffs, but other than that there's little worth exposing your ears to. A few instances of nice lighting exist and the character models resemble their real-life counterparts, but the bland, muddy environments bring it all crashing down.
The Shield is one of the most boring, generic games we've ever played, even with a strong character like Vic Mackey. There's really nothing about the gameplay, visuals, sound, or story that can justify a purchase. Both gamers and fans of the show should avoid this one entirely, or else be doomed to a life of self-hatred for spending money on this bust.
IGN Ratings for The Shield (PS2)
A disappointing story by The Shield standards. The HUD displays what it should, and nothing more.
Nice lighting here and there and decent character models and animation for primary players. Other than that, this game looks horrible.
Voice acting for Mackey is pretty good and a few decent but short metal riffs. You won’t even notice the rest of this game’s audio, unless it’s to cringe in disgust.
You might laugh once after plunging a guy’s head into a toilet. Other than that, this is some of the worst gameplay out there right now.
No multiplayer and terrible unlockable content means there’s no reason to leave this disk in your PS2.
(out of 10 / not an average)