SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs ReviewCain Dornan
Zipper Interactives SOCOM series has certainly gathered itself a strong following since the original title first landed back in 2002. Offering a mixture of compelling, squad-based tactical shooting with strong online and offline gaming, the game instantly became a leading flagship title for Sonys online PS2 gaming service, as well as setting a benchmark for future tactical squad shooters on consoles.
Fast forward several years later, and Zipper has now released the third title in the growing franchise, SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs. The game introduces a number of new features that further improves and expands the series, all the while maintaining the distinctive and much-loved gaming style that has stuck with the series throughout.
SOCOM 3 sees players once again in command of a four-member squad of elite US Special Forces, utilizing the latest technology in their weaponry and various gadgets. The single player component of the game sees you venturing through a series of different conflicts, each featuring the acts of a terrorist organization in different parts of the world. In one case, youll be fighting across the harsh deserts of Africa against a crazy rebel leader who plans to stop at nothing to rid his country of foreign control. In another, youll be searching throughout Asia on a hunt for a hijacked Australian freight vessel that was carrying some very important weapons. The missions that are foretold are suitable for each area and operation that you are performing, providing a slight variation in gameplay as youll be performing everything from full-out assault missions through to intelligence recons, hostage rescues and stealth missions.
One of the new inclusions in this third outing is the introduction of drivable vehicles, which is an appropriate addition given that the majority of the maps on-hand are now noticeable larger than in previous incarnations in the series. The African missions, for example, are spread across large barren deserts, scattered with numerous small villages and settlements that make it a perfect hideout for terrorist scum. As you make your way from location-to-location, youll be using a small variety of different vehicles, including various jeeps and trucks, as well as marine vehicles in the wetter portions of the game. You can also swim through water, offering another option for stealthy advancements on your enemies.
As with the previous SOCOM games, SOCOM 3 offers a strong multiplayer offering, which can be executed through both online and LAN. Upping the ante from what was previously possible, a maximum of 32 players can now compete in a single game, offering a more hard-hitting and frantic experience than what was previously possible. You can also use drivable vehicles in the games online mode, opening a host of new possibilities. With the addition of two new modes, the online component offers a surprising level of lifespan, further strengthening the franchises stance as one of the leading online games currently available on the PS2.
For those who own SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo on the PlayStation Portable will be pleased to learn of the connectivity between the two games. When you hook up your PSP via a USB cable to the PS2, you can synchronize the game data held on both games to unlock additional extras, which includes such things as access to new weapons on specific levels. Its not an outstanding feature, but an interesting one nonetheless for those who own both games.
While the game is a relatively realistic and enjoyable experience, the enemy AI is something of a disappointment. When firing upon enemies, most will simply stand there and wait to be killed, or blindly run around in pointless circles as they fire off inaccurate rounds in your general direction. Occasionally, theyll make a sprint for cover, which theyll remain hidden behind until you manage to flush them out via a grenade or by flanking them. As a result, far too often the gameplay becomes too simple, with hostile encounters often involving little more then spending a few seconds picking off the soldiers from a distance, without any worries of actually being shot.
Fortunately, the intelligence of your own squad is better, with your team capable of looking after themselves against enemy encounters. Each member of your squad can hold his own during a firefight, and will carry out orders appropriately whenever you issue one to them via the USB headset or by using the simple and straightforward button commands.
While not the most impressive looking game available on the PS2, SOCOM 3 offers a pleasing level of graphical detail that sees character models, specifically your own soldiers, brimming with some great detail. Their clothing and various gadgets and weapons are clearly viewable hanging on them during gameplay, a feature that many games overlook. Furthermore, your team offers some great animation, which range from general running movements through to the motions of swimming almost silently through a swamp. The environmental and building detail leaves plenty to be desired, however, when considering the sheer size of the maps on offer and the limitations of the PS2 hardware, there are no real complaints from us.
The games sound section offers a collection of authentic sounding weapons, radio chatter and sound effects. The usual military-themed music that has been present throughout the series has made a return for this third edition, which fits the theme of the game perfectly.
Apart from some new additions here-and-there, SOCOM 3: U.S. Navy SEALs is very similar to the previous two titles in the series, offering familiar gameplay and presentation that fans of the series have grown to love. If youre looking for more solid squad based action, Zippers latest title should please your senses.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.