SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Slant Six Games
The SOCOM series has had something of a chequered history. The series began life on the PlayStation 2 in a rather dramatic fashion with two games that proved to be very popular as a multiplayer experience. By the third title in the series it was evident that not many improvements were being made and the fourth title, Combined Assault, felt more like a stand-alone expansion than a sequel. The two previous PSP versions that we’ve looked at, Fireteam Bravo 2 and Tactical Strike, were certainly enjoyable but the first game to arrive on the PlayStation 3, SOCOM: Confrontation was certainly a low point for the series. Needless to say then, that I didn’t know what to expect this time around. However, thankfully SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 is quite enjoyable.
Fireteam Bravo 3 puts you in the shoes of Able Wraith who has assembled a four-man squad and been charged with going undercover in the fictional state of Koratvia. No one who has been sent on previous missions to the state has returned and you can’t rely on any support whilst you’re in Koratvia so it’s essential that you and your squad work well together to tackle the many enemies that you’ll encounter during the course of the game’s single-player campaign. The quality of the campaign’s storyline leaves something to be desired by with any shooter the focus is on the action and the quality of the missions on offer is on a par with those found in previous PSP SOCOM titles.
Whilst the campaign is mostly enjoyable, some aspects could have been better but not all of the problems are to do with the game itself. Whilst there is a decent range of weapons on offer, they don’t feel sufficiently different from each other and that reduces the appeal of having different weapons to use. The enemy AI is lacklustre and won’t pose much of a problem as long as you utilise cover effectively. The game’s auto-aim system is simply too good. Whilst I’m all for a little auto aim in any console or handheld console shooter, when you’re virtually guaranteed to be 100% accurate without having to do anything it takes away any feeling of being challenged. Of course the real problem here is that it’s just awkward to create a shooter for a device that only has one analogue stick. Unless you can make use of a touch screen to compensate for not having a way of moving and aiming in a natural fashion you end up with a compromised control scheme with a reliance on over the top auto-aiming and that’s exactly what we have here.
In addition to the single-player campaign mode, you can take part in custom missions. Essentially you can customise the missions you’ve completed in the campaign and set them up to suit yourself. This is a welcome feature and adds replay value to the game. You also have the ability to play through the campaign with three others or play in custom missions. Multiplayer is arguably the highlight of the game and the campaign is definitely better when you’re accompanied by other players rather than AI comrades. In addition to the co-op play, there is also an assortment of variants on common multiplayer game modes such as Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Both Infrastructure and Ad Hoc play is supported in all multiplayer modes.
Visually, Fireteam Bravo 3 is OK. The character models look decent and the quality of the animations are about what you would expect from a PSP game. The textures are a little bland however but if this is the sacrifice that has been made to keep the frame rate smooth, which it certainly is, then it’s certainly not something to complain about. Load times are a little on the long side (playing the game with an original PSP console, so if you have a later version you’ll probably experience better load times) but they certainly aren’t as irritating as in some PSP games. The quality of the game’s cut scenes on the whole is good and they are actually fairly interesting to watch.
Fireteam Bravo 3 is mostly OK for deaf gamers. The game’s cut scenes are subtitled meaning you’ll be able to follow the storyline in between missions. Mission briefings, or Field Notes as they are called here, are subtitled. Tutorial messages are all in text allowing you to get to grips with the game in only a few minutes. You can recall your objectives at any time with the Select button. There is also a mission log which gives you a text recap of your objectives. You’re notified in text when new objectives have been acquired and also when they have been completed. A grenade icon appears when a grenade has been thrown in your vicinity giving you time to take evasive action. The one disappointment is that communications received from your squad members during a mission are not subtitled. This is unfortunate as they warn you when enemies are sighted and let you know when they are in position after carrying out your orders. These omissions don’t represent any major obstacles for deaf gamers but they are disappointing nevertheless.
SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 is another fine PSP addition to the series which will certainly please those who have enjoyed the previous PSP SOCOM titles. The game’s campaign is decent and the ability to customise the campaign missions and play them how you want to is a nice touch. Those who like to dabble in multiplayer shooters are going to get the most from the game however and it’s great to be able to play through the campaign with three others or take part in competitive game modes. The game has its share of problems but for the most part, Fireteam Bravo 3 is a fairly enjoyable PSP shooter.