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Shell Shock
(Jeremy Hammond)

"An aerial utopia under nuclear warfare"

The year is 2005. In a time of absolute utopia, the people of the world agreed to store all weapons of mass destruction underground, where they may never be used again. To ensure this, the government agreed to send a select group of people to guard the underground weapons. And so came the birth of the above people and below people, two human societies that would never be able to communicate to each other again... 

But generations have passed since then, and now the underground people have become hungry for domination. Years of war pursued beneath the earth's crust until a freak accident caused a great hole to open from underground. The below people were astounded by the new world awaiting them from above and decided it was time to join forces and dominate the land below and above the earth. You play the above people's last defense against the superior underground.

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Shell Shock is really the first game of this kind to enter the QB fray, but compared to all the other QB games out there this shooter really shapes up to the standard. While it's nice to see a colorful, scrolling background packed with objects that shoot at you, it's all relatively plain when compared to other QB shooters.

The strength here is that the graphics do tend to vary from stage to stage. Depending on the level, you could be flying over anything from the desert to the polar ice caps. Unlike most games, this game gave me the feeling that each level was individual to each other, like it actually is a new experience everytime I play a level. And a big part of that is because Jeremy Hammond took the extra time to take some extra tilesets. So the detail may not be too high, but the graphics do a good job of pulling you into the game.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
The sound effects are really the exclamation point of this game. Jeremy Hammond could have settled with the game's par-graphics and packaging this game as a pretty average title, but he took the extra step in gathering some war sound effects from the Internet, editing them a little, and fitting them into the game.

The investment was a good one. The old-style arcade look of this game is compensated by explosions that really bring the war experience to life. You'll hear everything from the sound of your ship's turrets to the sonic boom that occurs when the enemy dogfighters turn to debris. Simply put, nicely done.

Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe vvv
Shell Shock joins the growing number of vertical shooters where you play a one-man wrecking crew against a crowd of enemy fighter pilots and land vehicles armed with SAMs. You must choose between dodging every bullet or blowing up everything you see, often having to swtich between these two choices, as bullets and homing missiles explode only when they contact you.

There were two subtle details I liked about Shell Shock. The first is the addition of buildings and other objects that can be blown up for extra points. Not only does this add something extra to destroy, but this also adds a strategy element as cannons tend to hide behind these structures.

The other thing I liked about Shell Shock's gameplay is the added "barrel roll" technique. Instead of throwing in some offensive firepower, Jeremy Hammond chose to give your ship a defensive move, used mainly to throw off the trajectory of homing missiles or screw up the enemy tank's lock-on system. It's a very inventive idea and it really gives Shell Shock that extra depth.

One sad note about Shell Shock is that the game doesn't come with power-ups and bosses. You will never get anything stronger than the standard weapon you start with at the beginning of the game, nor will you see any gigantic, heavily-armed motherships. On the other hand, this is a double-edged sword. Since you're always just a little stronger than the enemy, and because there always seems to be alittle more of them than you, your gaming skills are always pushed to the limit.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
The good news is that Jeremy Hammond spent a lot of time writing the story. The bad news is that Jeremy didn't make a big demo to go along with the big story. The only way to know what Shell Shock is all about is by reading the story through a gigantic text file you access during the game. While Shell Shock easily boasts one of the most well-thought, original stories in a QB game (even when compared to all the QBRPGs of late), it would have been nice to see the story unfold a la Ninja Gaiden.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
(Very Good)
Wow! With eight action-packed levels, Shell Shock really does seal a place with its excellent replay value elements. What I like about this game is that the challenge doesn't gradually increase. Instead, a couple of the levels in this game (Level 3 and Level 8 in particular) are especially hard. It takes some skill to get through these two tough stages, but you won't be able to survive the other stages on auto-pilot either.

Something really distinct about this shooter is that the enemies come from all sides. There are many different types of enemies and I like the way that each type of enemy plane has a different flight pattern. In some ways that gives the enemy some individuality and increases the variation this game has to offer. Nothing like killing two birds with one stone.

Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
Shell Shock should especially appeal to you if you're the hit and run type. Especially because ships can fly in from all sides and a lot of the surface vehicles aim before they shoot, this is a charming shooter in the sense that there's everywhere to run but nowhere to hide.

The challenge in this game varies from moderate to hard. The secret to beating this shooter is to know how each of the different types of enemy ships like to move. If you know how they move, you can manuvuer around their attacks and curl yourself into place where you can turn your enemies to shrapnel. And just when you've figured it all out, a new group of ships you've never seen before always seem to fly in... this is a very deep shooter.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
(Very Good)
Until now, every major shooter in QB has taken place in the vastness of space. But Shell Shock brings arcade shooting games back to earth, while individualizing itself by capturing the gameplay of 1942, Sky Shark, and other classic air combat games. I don't think there's any other shooter in QB that has such emphasis on explosions and aerial manuvuers... I felt like I was in the middle of a nuclear war. If there's a place in your heart that has been aching for a good dogfight, Shell Shock will certainly point you in the right direction.
Players 1 player Genre: Arcade/Shooting Game
Rating To solve: 1-2 hours Final Rating: 23/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wIf you're using Microsoft Windows 9x, right-click on "SHELSHCK.EXE". Choose "Properties", then click on "Screen". Change the "Usage" to Full-screen. Then, click on "Program" and change the Run Selection to "Maximized." This should prevent Windows from interfering with the game.
wTo play Shell Shock, unzip the file and run "SHELSHCK.EXE".

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