Best viewed in 1280x1024
The Daily Raider is brought to you by the Project for an Unamerican Century and the Ronnie Gardocki Beard Preservation Society. The Daily Raider accepts donations, but we will only use them for liquor, cocaine and South American prostitutes.
The Shield: The Game: The Travesty: The Game: The Game Review: The Game
guest starring Ronnie Gardocki
Oh, the Chiklismanity!
Following in the footsteps of The Sopranos: The Game and Reservoir Dogs: The Game.
In case the frequent references are not enough to clue you into my love of The Shield, then let me say this right now: The Shield, right now, is my favorite show on TV, barring the all-time favorite (The Simpsons). I love the grittiness, the edginess, the edge-of-your-seatedness, the casual racism spouted by Shane Vendrell, the season long guest role of Forest Whitaker, the minimal but pivotal role of Dave Rees Snell as the enigmatic Ronnie Gardocki, the sight of Michael Chiklis beating up guys with phone books and lengths of chain...you name it, I love it. In fact, the only thing I don't love is FX's shoddy treatment of it, as seen in them essentially not paying the cast and crew for another season despite marketing it as such (Season 6 was actually Season 5 Part 2), waiting more than a year between seasons, and selling off video game rights to any amateur hour huckster hackster in the business, which brings us to the topic at hand. The Shield: The Game originally was not meant to be brought into this world. The game had been shelved for months until Aspyr Media, a company I'm still not sure exists as anything but a front for Mephisto, brought it back from the land of development hell for reasons unknown. In the gaming world, every piece of shit idea comes back from the dead in some form (Fallout 3, Starcraft: Ghost). As a result, The Shield receives a disgrace on par with Fight Club: The Game or Citizen Kane: Kane and Abel.
The story fits in between Season 3 and 4. You know, the time when the department dissolved the Strike Team and Aceveda consigned Vic and Ronnie to the unexciting garage sting. Apparently, Point of View (the people responsible for developing this mess) decided to retrofit in one last hurrah for the team (sans Lem, who already left). The One-Niners and Byz Lats have begun an arms race, and the Strike Team believes that if they crack the case, the brass might allow them to continue operating as the Strike Team. So it's a story...you already know you fail at. Way to foster positive thinking, writers! You'll notice Season 3 began with the very plotline laid out in this game, meaning whatever monkey typewriter spewed this out couldn't even bother to come up with a new story to lengthen poorly and artificially. The writer also seemed to forget other characters exist - it is an ensemble show, after all - because the plotline focuses solely on Vic and his guys. Dutch, Claudette (in her not-CCH Pounder voice), Danny, Julien and the rest have tertiary roles at best. Dutch in particular seems to have been put in just to take Vic's poorly written insults with no response. Spoilers for the ending: Shane leaves the Strike Team. BET YA DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING.
It's the generic environment room!
This then brings us to the gameplay. The horrible, horrible, vomit enducing gameplay. You start out near the end of Season 3, wherein you have to shoot Margos the crazy foot fetish Armenian butcher. After you kill off him, you (Vic) go back to the Barn and see the most Goddamn amazing lack of AI ever. I swear, they based the NPCs on Disney Animatronics. You know, Hall of Presidents and all that shit. For instance, when you approach Dutch, you cannot talk to him, for all he does is stand at his desk and wipe away something that isn't there. Either the storyline introduces symptoms of OCD never displayed by Dutch...or they cannot program worth a damn. The objective in the Barn is to get out to the motor pool by opening the door. The problem therein: you have to press the button at a very specific area of the double door to open it, with no indication of where through the depiction of a knob or a bar or anything. Point of View: ramping up difficulty by way of inept coding.
But of course, door opening plays a relatively small part in the overall mechanics. The game is split up into two mission styles - combat and stealth. If you're wondering about the latter of those two styles, well, join the club. I tried to think of stealth scenes in The Shield, and all I came up with was in Season 5 when Shane and Ronnie needed to steal the money from the stoned guy before Claudette and Dutch busted into the house. That's it. Nothing else. Vic Mackey is not fucking Solid Snake or Sam Fisher, and the (poor) gameplay shows it. Stealth consists of crouching around and making sure the AI doesn't see you. Furthermore, you mustn't touch ANY of the environment, for doing so will set off enough noise (no matter what) to alert gangbangers to your presence. The clunky controls make it difficult to not careen into a parked car or a piece of gum on the sidewalk, making stealth about as fun as it sounds. The combat shit is more straightforward yet equally annoying and painful. Quite often the game pairs you off with a NPC (aka Shane), who, when he's not getting in your way, runs out ahead of you...only to get shot and killed. And considering that often you'll die as a result of Vic being unable to take more than two bullets (despite the perps taking anywhere from 4 to 6), Shane's AI stupidity makes advancing a difficult proposition.
Aspyr Media in: Fun with Proportions.
The basic concept of the game, the hook, if you will, apes another cop budget title this same developer trotted out a few years back: NARC. Remember NARC, the shitty budget title no one bought for good reason? The engine for that had a feature wherein certain choices would raise or lower your badge rating. The lower your badge rating, the more of a bad cop you were. You could be rated as a good cop by returning confiscated drugs to the evidence locker, not using said drugs for recreational use, and roughing up only black suspects. Bad cop means, basically, a drug taking, suspect beatin' asshole. It works exactly the same way for The Shield, though they change the rating to 'heat meter' or some such bullshit. For the heat to go down, Vic must not kill suspects, beat them without abandon, plant evidence, skim off the streets and, uh, anything else that makes the character entertaining and interesting. You cannot simply have high heat the entire game; it automatically fails you if it goes too high, meaning you're forced to do things in an un-Vic fashion for a sizable chunk of the gameplay. Yeah, cause the one thing people want to do while playing The Shield: doing things by the book. If I wanted that, I would have rented Extreme Commish Snowboarding.
I like the game's decision to give you a total of two shitty weapons throughout the entire fucking story.
Oh, I almost forgot the interrogation methods. Much like they stole the 'morality' engine from NARC, the interrogation segment seems them plagiarizing The Punisher, while removing all the, you know, fun. Or unique. Or different every time you interrogate someone. My first complaint is with the repetitive nature of the interrogations. Vic burning Armadillo in Season 2 was a shocking, hilarious and grotesque moment in the history of the show...so of course Point of View tries to ruin it by emulating it not once but twice. Much like other movie and TV games that try to have you recreate classic moments, the whole thing feels cheap and more than a bit sacrilegious. You can't top the Armadillo scene, so why bother? Interrogating someone also sucks, in addition to the lame and labored set pieces. Vic punches a guy twenty times, and somehow he doesn't break under pressure, yet put him next to certain object to interact with....it brings out the incoherent bullshit in you. Making certain interactive events take place consists of pressing a series of buttons in rapid succession. If you fuck it up, no one gets grilled, literally (HAHA JOKE). I love it. Completing objectives somewhat involves mashing buttons together quickly. What Goddamn retardation. You also search for evidence by playing a stupid mini-game involving moving the controller over a Shield icon until the circle you control shrinks. If you fuck it up, there's no way to try the search again. Yeah, uh...
Strangely enough, the developer managed to get almost the entire cast to voice their respective characters in this game. The sole exception is CCH Pounder as Claudette and it really, really shows. They didn't even try to find a soundalike replacement. But everyone else, from Michael Chiklis to Dave Rees Snell, reprises, an astonishing accomplishment for a game with the budget of a couple 2 dollar bills and an empty pizza box. This 'budget' thing means Point of View didn't get any writers from the show to write dialogue befitting the characters or the actors' talents. Instead, the dialogue is on the level of bad fanfiction; every character's lines come from two hack writing banks: "pseudo-gritty dialogue" and "we need to move the plot along dialogue". For instance, Shane's entire oeuvre of lines consist of variations on "I don't wanna stay on the Strike Team". Ronnie is relegated to pointless exposition (you can receive exposition on the objectives screen) and "We gotta crack this case to save the team!" over and over again. Aceveda does his whole "One more screw-up and the Strike Team is through" schtick the entire game. And Vic, oh God, Vic. He spouts a combination of faux edgy lines (think Franz as NYPD Blue ended its run) and the type of shit dialogue heard in every half-baked morally ambiguous game in the last five years (NARC, True Crime). It hurts to hear such fine actors forced to speak a series of clichés meant to convey the dumbass "plot".
Clock stolen from hit FOX TV show 24!
For special insight to the trainwreck that is...this, we have, transferred right over from Farmington PD, Strike Team member and surveillance expert Ronald "Ronnie" Gardocki. He's here to talk about his role (or lack thereof) in the game. Take it away, Mr. Gardocki.
I understand that I'm not the most important character on the show. Hell, I didn't have a line of dialogue in the pilot, and it took several years for me to even be considered an 'also starring'. But come on. I'm an integral member of the Strike Team! I'm the guy who keeps it together, while Shane and Vic and Lem (RIP) are off doing their personal crises of conscience. Do you think I would kill Lem and then have sex with a barely legal black prostitute? Hell no. And, while I hate to speak ill of the dead because Lem was such a close friend, I certainly wouldn't get caught with a brick of tar like some chump. I'm all about keeping the job, making some nice profit on the side, and not getting myself involved in a shitstorm if I don't have to. Yet my entire dialogue consists of "Hey Vic", "Hey", various lines related to keeping the team together and, occasionally, "Vic". I dare you to find one occasion I've EVER uttered the line "Hey Vic". Not once does this shitpile of a game make notice of my excellent surveillance, computer hacking or information gleaning skills. There's a damn good reason I'm the only guy other than Vic to stay with the Strike Team the entire time; I'm invaluable. Were some decent lines or maybe an appearance as a NPC partner (like Shane) too much to ask for?
And look at my character model! They didn't even try to get me right! My beard is not that hard to visualize and recreate. It's not like I had a fancy beard back during the Money Train years; it was simple yet no nonsense. Enough to distinguish me from the rest of the guys who sported unshaven looks. Despite this, they made my beard look like it was made with a combination of dry erase marker, spray paint and crayon. In fact, it was seeing this horrible mockery of a beard that made me shave it all off (the girlfriend excuse was used since I didn't want to admit to Vic or Shane I actually gazed at this piece of shit for more than 20 seconds before beating down the developers). You hear me, Point of View? You RUINED the signature Ronnie beard for the rest of human history!
Thanks, Detective Gardocki. I knew you were my favorite Shield character for a reason. Anyway, the game admittedly does get the general look of the show right, and the Barn is accurate to how it's depicted in The Shield. However, it still sucks. The whole production seems like it was made on a budget of $13, a condom and three sugar packets. The characters don't so much look like the characters than they do what the cast would look like if really, really sick and bloated. I would think at this point, graphics would have advanced enough so Vic Mackey could look semi-human instead of semi-puppet. And what kind of video game only secures rights to TWO songs for the entire fucking experience? Yeah, you heard me; TWO. One is an abortion of a version of "Just Another Day", and the other a tired 'rock' riff which goes on for 15 minutes on a loop during the end credits. Speaking of credits, somehow Point of View thought it a good idea to have the credits occur (you know, like on the show) DURING GAMEPLAY. For instance, you move a few steps towards Margos...and then Kenny Johnson's name appears on screen! I can't, I can't...FUCK! I HATE THIS GAME SO MUCH.
I don't need to tell you what my final opinion is; I think you can figure it out for yourself. Needless to say, some video games are better off left in development hell.
How many needles of black tar heroin to make this game good?: