SOCOM 3 US Navy Seals - PS2 Review
|27/4/2006||Sony||Zipper Interactive||1-2, 32 ||MA15+||Medium|
While the PS2 may be in its twilight there’s no reason for gamers to ignore the system. Indeed developers are still providing some fantastic titles, and the system has never looked so enticing. After an agonizing 6 months wait since the American launch, PAL gamers can finally sink their teeth into SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals, the third game in what is undoubtedly the PS2’s finest series online. With the focus shifting to the next generation did Sony and developers Zipper Interactive simply push out a rush sequel to make some quick cash? Answer: Not in the slightest.
|One of the first missions.|
To say that SOCOM 3 has some improvements over the previous two games is an understatement. The changes are significant to say the least and include maps which are many times larger then in the previous games, vehicles to drive around and use to attack enemies, a vastly enhanced single player mode, and connectivity to the PSP. As with the two previous SOCOM titles the story is pretty thin on the ground, but it is there for those that are interested and yet again sees the world in danger, and the US Navy Seals called in to save it.
The first area to look at is the single player mode, which Zipper Interactive has spent considerable time developing to ensure this isn't a multiplayer title with single player tacked on. While the two previous titles had single player experience they were pretty shallow, and rather short with the main focus on the multi-player aspect of the title. This game changes that. The large maps make missions a lot longer although the developers have not included checkpoints through the missions which can be loaded at any point in the mission. The missions offer a series of tasks to be completed, and the strategy for completing the game is largely up to you. Having said that there is generally a set path, or sequence of objectives to be completed so while you can run anywhere on the map you are still given set goals to follow.
|Your team is following.|
In each mission you have a series of squad members which you can order around the battlefield through a series of commands laid out via the circle button. These commands including telling your squad to hold their position, regroup, follow, breach doors and so on. Yet again the game offers full support for the PS2's headset so you can issue commands to your squad by talking to them. It's a great system which, as with previous games, works very solidly. One thing that remains very familiar from previous games is the controls which for the most part remain the same as previous game (with, of course, the inclusion of vehicle controls now). The soldiers are responsive, accuracy essential, but not impossible and unlike the recent PSP game you won’t have auto lock-on to help you target distant enemies.
Like previous titles multiplayer is really where this game is at, and with support for 32 players online Zipper Interactive have set entirely new benchmarks for PS2 online gaming with SOCOM III – and with next generation just around the corner (and you can bet a PS3 SOCOM title is already in development) this is probably as good as we’ll get on the PS2 – and indeed puts most PC games to shame as well. As with previous games the title basically sees two teams battle it out. You can use your headsets to communicate to each other and while there are gamers playing to annoy, when you get into a good game, with dedicated gamers this is probably one of the best online gaming experiences ever - and that includes PC gaming.
|Cruising in the boat.|
The biggest change that has been made to SOCOM 3 is the inclusion of vehicles. This is somewhat fortunate as the maps are many times larger then previously and hauling ass from one side to the other can become a bit tiresome, despite the frequent battles with enemy soldiers. In fact the streaming technology which Zipper Interactive have developed for this game is mighty impressive, some of the best we’ve seen on the system to date. In all the developers have given us a wide range of vehicles from jeeps to boats, hummers to tanks each of which acts and maneuvers completely different to the others. In all there’s probably around 20 vehicles to use throughout the game. Best of all you, and this depends on the vehicle, you can choose to either drive, or mount the guns. With several people able to hop into each vehicle it really adds a new dimension to the multi-player aspect of this game – do you trust the driver not to park in the middle of an enemy gathering? Can you work together to form a strategy of attack?
One of the great inclusions in SOCOM 3 is the crosstalk feature with SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo on PSP. Essentially if you complete certain objectives in this game then, via a USB cable, you can transfer data and affect the way missions in the PSP game are played, and vice-versa. It's certainly the best use of connectivity that we've seen between the PS2 and PSP to date and certainly makes purchasing both games a viable and/or worthwhile option.
|City detail is impressive.|
It must be said that when you sit this game next to something like EA’s recently released Black it does look rather disappointing. The level of interactivity isn’t as high, there are fewer effects, and some areas look a bit on the plain side. But there is a big difference. Where Black was a single player experience SOCOM 3 allows up to 32 players online which certainly takes up a fair chunk of the systems resources. When you take that into consideration this does end up being a very impressive game – visually it has more punch then previous games in the series. The effects are pretty solid with a range of smoke, fire and particle effects, while detail on the soldiers and vehicles is pretty good. I did feel that the games cut scenes could certainly have been better as close up the faces of the characters do tend to look flat and lifeless.
Faring better then the graphics is the audio experience which this game presents to gamers. Most importantly the gunshots and explosions will have you on the edge of your seat while the music changes according to the action on screen. If I could level one issue with the audio it's that at times the music starts before you realise there are enemies approaching and it acts as an advanced warning. Speech in the game is also well done with good dialogue and delivery of the lines.
|Game effects are very impressive.|
If you play your PS2 online, and that would almost certainly include previous games in this series, then this is a no brainer. SOCOM 3 is an essential purchase. If you haven't played online yet, there's no reason not to start now. If you want a single player game, then this will also keep you happy. Essentially, a brilliant title.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||Some sections are brilliant, others are a bit lacking, overall good.||82%|
|SOUND||Lively, old school game music, solid effects with some fun speech.||88%|
|GAMEPLAY||One of the best action titles of all time on any system. Engrossing.||93%|
|VALUE||At $99.95 for the game only, or $129.95 with headset. Great value.||92%|
|OVERALL||SOCOM 3 is certainly the best game in the series and Zipper Interactive have not only provided the best online experience on the PS2 but also a fantastic single player experience. An essential purchase for fans, and a great game for newcomers to the series.||90%|