SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals Fireteam Bravo PSP Review

SOCOM: Navy SEALs has surprisingly been a very strong brand for Sony over the years, with three different games released on the PlayStation 2 that have been loaded with a great deal of depth both in gameplay and multiplayer. So it was no obvious surprise that the series would be making some kind of jump to the PSP, although many feared that the gameplay could be limited as a result. After all, the PSP's a different kind of hardware than the PS2. But now, SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo has made the jump, and - surprise! - it's just as much a kick-ass military shooter as its console brethren.

The game follows similar scenarios to the console games, where you're given a series of 14 different missions and then deployed with a set of team members in order to complete them. Your missions can vary, ranging from taking out weapon caches to sneaking past particular sections in order to access vital goods to rescuing the lives of hostages before they're wasted by terrorists. For PSP owners, however, you do get some brand new scenarios that take place in Chile, which is noticeable by the dusty terrain.

The game requires you to complete a campaign mission before you can engage in Instant Action, but this is a good thing as it introduces you to the gameplay system and allows you to get a hang of the tricks of the trade. Not only is quick targeting and massive firepower a key in winning, but also teamwork with your other members, like calling upon your fellow SEAL to disable a generator or bust down a door while you watch his back, or vice versa. Further assisting you is recon over the radio, tracking your progress and items that you pick up, which could reveal the terrorist threat that's at hand. It all sounds technical, but, believe me, the game is just as much about kicking ass as it is explaining it.

The coolest thing about SOCOM is how well the gameplay has adapted to the handheld console. Sure, jumping's slightly iffy, and the graphics do take a slight hit in terms of details, but the gameplay still feels just right, complete with targeting on one button and the ability to change from standing to crawling in two simple gestures. You also have a well-working command system where you can call upon your fellow soldiers to complete tasks, as mentioned above. You may have to hold down the circle button to get these commands in action, but it's quite instantaneous.

The game has challenge aplenty, especially as you approach the later missions and find some evolved terrorists as a result. I don't mean like some sort of mutant builds, but rather guys who know how to hit a moving target and call for assistance when needed. You'll need to react quickly and efficiently in order to get thee missions completed, and it's nice to see that your teammates aren't so "flaky" this time around, and behave mostly to get the job done. Sure, they fall slightly behind, but they always catch up. The game also utilizes save points so that you can start at a good part in the mission instead of going all the way back, which can be a tremendous pain in a game of this nature.

The game looks pretty good. Sure, it's not explosive detail like the PS2 efforts, but the levels are huge and noteworthy for completing your numerous tasks, and the animation, while not blazing, is solid. The game does pretty quick on loading, too, as well as providing you with tips (if wanted) on how to get the hang of the gameplay. Sound is made up of quality voice acting and sound effects, including things as small as the running of a generator or some drunk-ass complaining about his brother-in-law. It's this attention to detail that Zipper's come to known over the years as they have perfected this series.

The game features various weapons to pick up and go through, as well as different difficulty levels, ranging from "Ensign" on up. Some may want to start off small and then go big-time on the assault, as this gradual learning curve may prepare you for the AI assault that lies ahead. If solo's not your speed, you can always jump into a round of multiplayer through Adhoc and Infrastructure, which boosts the gameplay significantly. And if you own SOCOM 3 and a USB cable, crossing over your data from version to version is possible. Fans should adore this feature.

Sure, the game could've looked a little better. Sure, it could've used a few more bonus missions here and there. But the bottom line is that SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo has survived the pit that most other PS2 or other translations fall into, and keeps the excellence of the brand going with most of the same qualities intact. Plus, it still kicks some major military butt on the side. Can't ask for any more out of a SEAL than that.

What's Hot: A very faithful portable adaptation of a great PS2 series.

What's Not: A few more bonus missions would have been cool, but it's all good.

4/5