SOCOM II: US Navy Seals PlayStation 2
by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Zipper Interactive
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99
Last year we reviewed SOCOM: US Navy Seals and it was easily one of the best games to be released on the PlayStation 2. The game was important for another reason too and that is that it was Sony's first must have online game for what was then, it's new online service. The game proved to be fantastically popular in both the US and here in Europe and it was always going to be inevitable that the game would get a sequel. The only thing we could say against SOCOM was that it wasn't completely deaf gamer friendly, which was unfortunate. Let's take a look and see if this sequel lives up to the standard of the original SOCOM and also see if it's more deaf gamer friendly.
Essentially SOCOM II is more of the same and if you enjoyed the first game then you're guaranteed to love the sequel. It's all about fighting terrorists in many different locations and as you'd expect it's more about using stealth than taking an all guns blazing approach. Initially there are only 3 difficulty levels, Ensign, Lieutenant and Commander which cater for all ability levels. Ensign is probably the best place to start for deaf gamers as it will allow you more time to respond (or indeed to avoid) enemies. It's also a great level to play on if you haven't played the first SOCOM (or any other games of this nature) before. The single player game offers 12 missions that take place in locations such as Brazil, Albania and Russia to name but a few. New equipment and weapons have been included and now you'll be able to use such delicate things as rocket propelled grenades and machine gun turrets to finish off your enemies when stealth isn't an option.
Online and LAN games are back and some new additions have been made here too. Two new game play modes, Escort and Breach have been added. Escort sees you having to escort (and keep safe of course) certain people whilst the more dynamic Breach requires that you storm a terrorists' stronghold. In total there are over 20 maps and the ones from SOCOM have also been included (and improved). Of course the problem for deaf gamers could be that most hearing gamers will want to communicate with their headset so it may be preferable to only play against other deaf gamers to avoid this problem. Thanks to the game being compatible with Central Station this will now be possible and keeping track of your friends online couldn't be easier. It's worth mentioning though that even if you aren't into online gaming the game is still worth the price for the single player game.
Graphically the game is pretty much the same as SOCOM which is no bad thing as SOCOM was a good looking game by PlayStation 2 standards. Well actually I did notice that the textures have been improved over the original SOCOM and are now nicer to look at and the games various levels have been designed in a more intelligent way (single player and multiplayer). Even on the outdoor level you'll find more options when it comes to taking cover which is great news and encourages you to use a stealthy approach. For me though the best part was that the frame rates still remain smooth throughout. Nothing spoils a game of this nature more than a jerky frame rate but thankfully that's not an issue with SOCOM II.
Unfortunately SOCOM II is not any more deaf gamer friendly than SOCOM and if anything may be less friendly. Hearing gamers will dish out the orders via the headset but deaf gamers can just use the circle button to choose orders from their comrades as in SOCOM. Some cutscenes are subtitled and some are not. The long and the short of it though is that once you're in a mission there are hints and conversations that you will not have access to, which is very unfortunate. On the plus side all the briefing materials such as overview, details, objectives etc. are given in text so you'll have a basic knowledge of what needs to be done. You can also press the select button during a mission to gain access to movie clips that have information in text displayed at the bottom of the screen (although there is verbal information being given out too that is not subtitled) which will give you further details. The game also has 5 short movie clips which show you how to perform various actions and the instructions are given in text only. It's fair to say that the game is playable for deaf gamers but as is so often the case you're not getting the complete experience.
SOCOM II is definitely a great follow up to a great game but there are some problems for deaf gamers. Aside from the aforementioned problems you have to take into account that stealth needs to be used quite a lot in the game and hearing gamers will always have an advantage because enemies usually can be heard before they are seen. That's not to say the game's impossible though and it can still be enjoyable for deaf gamers providing you have the patience. SOCOM II is definitely one of the best titles in the genre on PlayStation 2 and if you play online it's pretty much a definite purchase.
Game Rating: 8.1/10
An excellent sequel to SOCOM both in single player and multiplayer. Had the game been completely deaf gamer friendly this would be a highly recommended game.
There are omissions but it's still possible to enjoy the game.