Shields are uncommon, but can be greened once in a while. When you receive a shield, a small green globe and a counter appear in the middle right portion of your screen. The counter starts at 100% and goes to 0%. During this time, damage you take is reduced by the value of the counter. For instance, if you have 80%, then you take only 20% of the damage normally assigned to you. Likewise, if you have 10% shields, then you take 90% of the damage from your enemy. Therefore, Shields can be quite useful at first, but after a short period of time, they wear down. Take advantage of this upgrade by immediately provoking an attack from the nearest enemy. They will over fire because they think you are near death, when in fact, the damage has been reduced by your shields.
Shields will give your ship an almost impenetrable forcefield. You will be virtually immortal for a short period. A timer will appear in the top right corner, counting down from 100% to zero. The percentage indicated the amount of damage that is absorbed by the forcefield. This means that whenever you green shields, you should try to take advantage of it as soon as you can. It's annoying to have shields and not being able to make use of them. Of course, you could head for the nearest minefield, but that isn't going to do much good to your score. Do keep in mind that your weapons still draw energy from your reserves. Many people greened shields, and died soon after that because they kept firing at enemies like crazy and taking a few hits. Don't be one of them :)
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Counts down from 100% and indicates percentage of protection from damage.
When you pick up shields, a little countdown timer will appear in the upper right corner of your screen. The shields last for 100 seconds, and cause you to take a percentage of damage less than you usually would, according to how many seconds are left in the shields. That is, if 95 seconds are left, you take only 5% normal damage. If 50 seconds are left, you take half damage.
As a rule shields are useful only in about the first 50 seconds. Anytime after that and the danger you expose yourself to by rushing an enemy is too great for even 50% shields to handle. If you get them, the best thing you can do is ask if any teammate is near a flag base (if you play War Zone). If so, attach to him and rush into the enemy base. With 90% shields, you can run through a dozen mines, grab all their flags, and scoot out without taking more than half your energy. If there are no bases to attack or you're not in the War Zone, head for the nearest high bounty ship and go postal on his ass.