If you happened to spend hours playing classic artillery-based strategy gam Worms when you were younger, there are very few games these days that can match that sort of fun. One of the very few that definitely has the potential to invoke some warm memories of Worms is Shell Shock Live 2, the sequel to an original that brought artillery-style gaming to the free-to-play online sphere of gaming. Though the idea of playing a game that is essentially 2D involving firing repeatedly at enemies doesn’t exactly sound original or enthralling on paper, giving Shell Shock Live 2 a chance will soon demonstrate that it is an experience far superior than any description about it can possibly hope to convey.
The game’s premise is as previously mentioned: it really just boils down to manoeuvring, aiming, and firing at your enemies on a range of different terrains utilising a staggeringly vast selection of quirky weapons and experiencing a variety of different gaming modes. The obvious attraction point – the massive range of weapons and RPG-like levelling-up progression through experience points aside that is – happens to be that instead of playing against any kind of unimaginative artificial intelligence you face off against actual humans playing the game across the globe. The game carries itself on the fact that it is a multiplayer battleground that will test your aiming, manoeuvring, and general strategy to its limits.
The game’s menus can be a little overwhelming at first, beginning with the requirement of entering an email address and creating your own username for use in the game. Once you’ve gotten past that, you’re presented with a firing range (which is essentially just practice mode), an upgrade section for your tank, and the option to go online and search a variety of lobbies for games to enter into. It is recommended that you make use of the practice section in order to get to grips with the controls and the particulars of the game. It’s pretty simple actually: you use the A and D keys to move your tank left and right, and you can either use the mouse or the directional arrows to aim your shot. The trajectory and power of your shot is displayed on the screen; the fire button can either be pressed with the mouse or you can simply click the Spacebar to fire instead.
The sheer choice of weapons you have in the game even to begin with is quite startling. Though you can unlock more as you level up your tank, you start with choices like regular artillery shots, bouncing shots, air strikes, earthquakes, land destroyers/builders, rolling shots, and rapid fire strikes. You can unlock increasingly powerful and intricate shots as well, with pretty much everything but the hold hand grenade from Worms 2 being on offer here. As well as the variety of weapons, you also have terrain of different shapes to choose from and a range of items such as shields, jetpacks (no matter how unrealistic this may sound, and crate drops to replenish your weaponry during matches. All of this variety adds to up an experience far superior to many rival tank games along the lines of Color Tanks and the like.
If you’re not much for weapons selection and prefer to draw your entertainment value from different match types, then this game also has a few to choose from. You can choose to go 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 etc. in a death match or you can even play cooperatively in teams. The in-match chat feature also makes the experience much more interactive, allowing players to converse with team mates and enemies to create a more tight-knit experience than most.
The graphics of the game aren’t by any means revolutionary, and the whole thing is viewed from a cross-section perspective, but much like Worms before it, Shell Shock 2 Live isn’t hindered by its design. Everything is polished and professional from the menus down to the brightly-coloured tank and level designs. As is the case with many games of its type, you can purchase tank coins in order to buy various upgrades and unlock certain things, but you can achieve most things just by grinding for the coins as well, it just takes more time. This Shell Shock 2 tank multiplayer game will hit the spot for those that like human intelligence over AI, and its strategic/RPG elements bridge the gap between multiple genres extremely well.