Thursday, November 10, 2011

ShellShock Live

Anybody out there remember a little game called Scorched Earth? I do. I played it constantly in primary school. It was one of the few games we could get to work on our crappy computers, but I didn't mind. I loved the hell out of it.

Well, Scorched Earth is... kinda... back. And in online form. Welcome to ShellShock Live.


If you've played Scorched Earth, or any similar game, you'll immediately understand how ShellShock Live works. You get a little tank amidst a bunch of hilly terrain, and your objective is to blast another little tank into oblivion with a variety of ridiculous weapons, like so:

Needless to say, that hurt.

Unlike Scorched Earth, however, the winner in ShellShock Live is the one with the most points, aka the one who hits the enemy the most. Every now and then the demolished terrain will reset itself, and you'll get random items to supplement flagging stores of ammo.

Do these changes make it better than Scorched Earth? Eh, not really. I personally prefer vying for survival over points, though I will admit that this system gives new players a chance to acclimate to game play before experienced vets blow the shit out of 'em.


ShellShock Live is a game with a heavy investment in physics. In order to hit enemies you need to not only know how your weapons work - each one is quite different from the last - but to angle and power each shot appropriately. It's a challenging prospect for anyone who doesn't think about angles and gravity too much, but you get used to firing in a hurry.

For what it's meant to do, ShellShock Live works well. The controls are simple and smooth, and though you don't get a hell of a lot of direction at the start it's an easy game to figure out. Mess around on the firing range before you go live.


ShellShock Live doesn't look that different from Scorched Earth, and when it comes to backgrounds it's actually a bit worse. The game is... a little bland, with interchangeable tanks that aren't terribly interesting to look at and dull blue backgrounds for each level. More variety would be nice, even if that variety just means changing the colour of the dirt under your treads.


The explosions on ShellShock Live are fine, and the one song it plays is appropriately militaristic and high octane. Problem is... that song never changes. Just plays over, and over, and over. Pretty boring, and likely to be booted after a few maps in favour of MP3s.


As the name implies, ShellShock Live is an almost completely multiplayer experience. You CAN do a little bit of one player fighting, but it's relegated to practice only, so what's the point?

The multiplayer in ShellShock Live is much like the multiplayer in most games: spotty. Sometimes you'll get a match right away, sometimes you'll have to wait for long, boring minutes in the game's lobbies. The more players you want in the game, the longer it will take to arrange such a match, with a maximum of three players on each side.

And, oddly enough, having more players does NOT make ShellShock Live more fun. Because it's a turn-based game, you're forced to wait as the other players fumble their way through their turns before you get a chance to fire - and when you have to wait several minutes only to miss, well, the match doesn't seem worth the effort. The turns are timed to prevent this from stretching out too much, but still. One-on-one is the best for enjoyable brawls.

Challenge Rating

ShellShock Live is not a difficult game to grasp, but it can be difficult to win. That said, the level of challenge is - aside from including wind - up to your opponent, not the game's internal programming. In short, varies.


ShellShock Live is a great way to waste some time, but most players aren't likely to get hooked. Sign up to make the most of the game via leveling and better weapons, if you want, though playing as a guest will probably satisfy the average browser gamer.


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