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The Shield: Vic Mackey, a Different Kind of Cop
Company: Aspyr

The Shield video game is one that many fans of the series have been waiting on, quite literally, for years. First announced in March of 2004 by Sammy Studios, it was supposed to be released in spring of 2005. Due to company buyouts, etc., the game was shelved in summer of 2005, disappointing many fans. Luckily for us, Aspyr Media announced in October 2006, on Friday the 13th of all days, that they had obtained the rights to publish The Shield. So, finally after over 2½ years of waiting, we finally have a game to play, granted only in preview copies at the moment. Xbox users will be disappointed, however. As of right now, The Shield is only slated to be released for the PC and the PS2.

The Shield game starts at the beginning of season three of the series. But no worries; if you haven’t seen the show yet, the game provides you with a few minutes of introductory video of the show to catch you up on what you missed. The recap is the actual video footage of the show stating, “previously on The Shield…”. You’ll feel like you’re sitting down to watch the first episode of season three. Instead though, you get to play it; you get to be in control of Vic Mackey and decide how corrupt (or uncorrupt if you really feel like it) he becomes.

The Shield opens with you inside one of the members of the Armenian mob’s house. It walks you through how to search places, how to open doors, and eventually how to use your gun. I found it to be a good but quick, introduction as to how to play the game. If you want to go through the opening level quickly, it only takes a few minutes, but you have as much time as you want to take to get used to the controls. After that, you find yourself in “the Barn”, which is the police station. Fans of the show will immediately know their way around because everything is in the exact same place as it is in the series, down to the location of Dutch and Claudette’s desks. The voices of the characters sound exactly the same too. I’m guessing a lot of the actors from the series are voicing the characters for the game. I know Michael Chiklis provides the voice of Vic Mackey. After you complete your mission at the Barn, you’re told where you need to go next. Unlike a Grand Theft Auto type game where you have several missions at once and you just choose where you want to go next, The Shield simply has a loading screen and puts you at your next location. There’s no driving or free roaming between areas, and you’re locked onto that area usually by locked doors or blocked pathways. I have to admit I would like to be able to just free roam, but it does keep the game on track with the storyline of the show to do it this way. Interpreting what they want you to do on some missions can be a little difficult at times though. I spent about 20 minutes beating some guy's face into the ground trying to figure out why he wouldn’t talk until I deciphered what they actually wanted me to do to him. The Shield provides an interesting measure of progress, as you choose whether to keep evidence to raise your “retirement fund” or turn it in as evidence to keep the Captain from busting you as a dirty cop. One feature I found pleasant is the ability to put the game in widescreen mode, which makes it look so much better on my tv. Other nice features include the ability to invert the camera controls, assisted targeting, and aim sensitivity. Also, unlocking at least the first extra was easy. You just have to take 15 seconds and complete an optional objective. I found another extra just searching one of the locations, so they have made it quick to get to see the provided extras. But I’m not going to spoil it and tell you what they are!

Fair warning, The Shield has an M rating according to Aspyr's site and it does deserve it. The Shield is a very suggestive and violent game, so it’s not for the faint of heart. So far, every single tv in the background has had girl on girl playing on it, just clothed enough to not get in trouble. One mission requires you to go to an adult video store to find a stripper. You’re required to beat the hell out of a number of people, kill even more, but hey, any game where you get to beat a guy up with a phone book is awesome in my book. I’m looking forward to the final release and I highly recommend anyone who likes the show or anyone who enjoys 3rd person shooters to check it out.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl
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