SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 2 PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Zipper Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
On the PlayStation 2 the SOCOM games are untouchable in terms of providing a memorable online experience. The games have been enormously popular online which is remarkable when you consider that most games that provided online play on the console failed to attract any kind of interest. It's no surprise then that the developers, Zipper Interactive, included some rather impressive multiplayer options in their first PSP SOCOM title. SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 2 also manages to cater nicely for those who want to play online and supports game sharing and offers both Ad Hoc and Infrastructure multiplayer modes. There is also a pretty engaging single-player experience here too.
Like SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault, the game takes part in the fictional Adjikistan. The single-player game offers over a dozen missions for you to undertake. You'll have missions where you have to capture specific characters, rescue hostages, gather intelligence and so forth. The multiplayer side of the game supports up to 16 players (for both Ad Hoc and Infrastructure play) and seven different modes are on offer. In the single-player campaign you'll play as Commander Sandman and in each mission you'll have one companion. Of course in the PlayStation 2 games you were part of a team of four but whilst only having one companion in Fireteam Bravo might initially seem like you're at a disadvantage, it actually works in your favour because it's far easier to command and keep track of one companion rather than three others. You'll have a choice of three companions to take into a mission you. Wraith is more of a stealthy character whilst Bronco has superior assault abilities and Lonestar has a greater range with his weapons and is generally a more balanced character.
It's difficult not to be impressed with Fireteam Bravo 2. Whilst the AI in Combined Assault left something to be desired, the AI is pretty good here. The enemy AI is certainly sharper in Fireteam Bravo 2 and won't hesitate to pick you off if you give them the opportunity. The AI of your companion is also pretty good and seems to do what it's told without too much fuss. The only problem I had with the companion AI was that it had trouble keeping up at times if you are moving quickly from one location to another. Command Equity and Local Influence points can be earned during a mission and then used to purchase additional items that will aid your efforts in the missions. The game can even link up with the Combined Assault on the PlayStation 2 and as the storylines for both games are connected, your performance in one game can affect the storyline in a similar mission in the other (you'll need a USB cable to sync the two together however).
Fireteam Bravo 2 certainly looks good and is certainly pretty close, in terms of graphical quality, to the PlayStation 2 SOCOM games. The mission maps and character models don't look quite as detailed as the PlayStation 2 games, although the draw distance is impressive for a PSP title, and you'll notice that the textures are a little bland. The load times aren't that bad either which is good to see. The frame rate is generally impressive although if you are faced with more than a few enemies, the frame rate dips are quite noticeable. For the most part though, I was impressed with the graphics and the performance of Fireteam Bravo 2. Zipper Interactive have certainly got more out of the PSP than most developers have managed to date.
When we recently reviewed SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault, we commented on how the support for deaf gamers was 'a bit of a dog's breakfast'. Sadly the exact same verdict could be given about Fireteam Bravo 2. The cutscenes aren't subtitled. Any dialogue spoken when you're navigating the menus isn't subtitled. Tutorial messages are shown in text enabling you to pick up the mechanics of the game quite easily. Communications from your HQ are subtitled but the comments your character makes to HQ are not subtitled. Any comments made to you by your AI controlled companion are not subtitled so you won't be aware when he's telling you he can't carry out your order. Mission briefings and intelligence dossiers are shown in text. Objectives can be recalled by pressing the select button to access your TACMAP and you're notified in text when objectives have been completed. The compass that appears on the top right of the screen shows the general location of your objectives, your companion and any enemies that are within your range of vision amongst other things. As you can imagine, that all equates to deaf gamers obtaining patches of information but never the whole story which is very irritating.
All things considered, SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 2 is an impressive PSP title. It manages to fully capture the essence of the PlayStation 2 SOCOM games and provides a solid single-player and multiplayer game. At times the frame rate can bog down a little but for the most part the frame rate is more than acceptable. The real problem is the game's rather spotty support for deaf gamers. It's truly bewildering to see various items of dialogue subtitled and some important items not subtitled. Deaf gamers will find the game rather irritating as a result of this mixed subtitling situation and that's a real shame because Fireteam Bravo 2 is a very good game.
Fireteam Bravo 2 is rather impressive but once again Zipper Interactive have put out a game that's a bit of a mess in terms of its support for deaf gamers and that's very disappointing.