SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike PSP Review

Mess with the formula and you're not only going to piss off the customers used to your popular dish, but perhaps even the original chefs as well. SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs is one of the better series working for the PSP, thanks to the sheer dedication of military action, the tightness of each operation, and the absolute intensity that your team could be discovered and blown up at any minute by some ruthless terrorists. The latest chapter in the series, SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike, diminishes that excitement rather quickly, in the attempt to make the series into something different. But you shouldn't mess with what works, unless you absolutely, positively know what you're doing. Which Slant Six Games doesn't.

This new developer, taking over for Zipper Interactive (temporarily, we hope), tries a new approach to the SOCOM theme. Instead of taking control of your soldier unit through their military operations directly, you're given a more tactical approach. You order soldiers to certain points on the compounds and command them to do certain things, like wait at a checkpoint or attack a given enemy squad. The interface is somewhat interesting here, giving you a new approach in the series that you might not be used to. Tactical fans may get a kick out of what's offered here, especially given the option to fight against another through multiplayer

The graphics also look pretty good, right on par with the usual top-notch SOCOM games. Soldiers move about realistically, while the sound, as minimal as it is, hits the mark with multilingual soldiers and enthralling bits of music. The game also has a constant frame rate, so the action doesn't slow down that badly once it kicks into gear into the missions.

Unfortunately, that's the only thing that really kicks into gear. The fact of the matter is is that SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Tacitcal Strike simply isn't that fun to play. The first problem is that you have no direct camera control. You can't manipulate the system to get a good look around the level, resulting in you using the same stoic view of the level and occasionally missing targets as a result. Worse yet, the gameplay sometimes doesn't matter because your soldiers will act like complete dumbasses every once in a while, getting themselves shot for no good reason at all.

It's almost like what would happen if Mr. Bean became a U.S. Navy SEAL, opting to play with Mr. Teddy instead of shooting back at soldiers. It sounds absurd, but it's really on par with that. Finally, the checkpoint system is ridiculous. If you do manage to reach one (they're spread out around every thirty minutes in gameplay time, which is incredibly tedious), you can't instantaneously go back to it. You have to exit the game, go back in and reload it. Um, what?

SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Tactical Strike is tactically unsound and just not very fun to play overall. There are too many errors here to fix, resulting in a less-than-fun experience - even for those who know what they're doing when it comes to commanding soldiers. If real soldiers acted like some of these guys do on the battlefield, they'd be about as reliable as a lawn mower without any blades on it. Sure, they'd look intimidating, but the grass would still be uncut. Do yourself a favor and stick with the Fireteam Bravo games instead. You'll thank us later.

What's Hot: Interesting tactical approach takes direct control away from you; multiplayer options.

What's Not: Lack of checkpoints; frustrating AI-controlled soldiers gets itself killed when you don't want it to; lack of camera movement.

2/5