Although the PlayStation 2 has played host to a number of
amazing games in its nearly six years of life, the first-person shooter is one
genre that has eluded Sony for one reason or another. The Xbox saw most of the big exclusives, from
Doom 3 to Half-Life 2 to a pair of top-selling Halo games, while the
PlayStation 2 featured disappointments like Killzone and Warhammer 40,000. But Sony fans did have one series they could
always fall back on, a series of online games that were nearly as good as
anything produced for Microsoft's
Xbox. I'm talking about SOCOM: U.S. Navy
SEALs, a tactical shooter that gave PlayStation 2 owners a glimmer of hope that
there would be a bright online experience in their future.
Now PSP owners get a little glimpse of that hope with Fireteam Bravo, a portable SOCOM title
that surprisingly never feels like a shrunk down experience. This PSP SOCOM manages to do just about
everything its bigger brother can, including offering a full offline campaign
and so many online modes, levels, and weapons that it will take you months just
to see it all. Even though you can find
it on a portable, Fireteam Bravo is
just as deep and complex as those PlayStation 2 games.
This is not the first time a company has attempted to pull
off a shooter on the PSP, Koanmi's Coded Arm springs to mind thanks in large
part to its terrible game play mechanics.
Thankfully Sony learned a few things from the companies that went before
them, nearly every aspect of this game feels finely tuned and ready for
you. Although some of the game play
issues can be troubling at first, it won't take long before Fireteam Bravo feels perfectly
natural. SOCOM is one game you won't be
taking out of your PSP for a long time to come.
But before I spend too much time praising it I should talk a
little about what makes Fireteam Bravo
is such a find. For one thing, it
features a lengthy story mode that not only teaches you the tactics of being a
SEAL but also comes with a fairly interesting plot that will keep you playing
until the very end. You control a squad
of two SEALs operatives, you (Sandman) and your backup (Lonestar), who be asked
to perform various objectives in a number of unique countries, including Chile, Morocco,
South Asia, and Poland.
Veterans of the PlayStation 2 SOCOM games will already know
what kind of missions you're being asked to take part in, most of them involve
securing information, saving hostages, taking down high ranking officials, and
defusing a whole bunch of bombs. You
know, it's all that stuff you hear about on the news and see in the
movies. The single-player missions are
all extremely interesting; they don't last too long and always offer a lot of
targets to take down and tasks to complete.
After awhile you will notice that some of your tasks feel like things
you've already done before, but then a group of enemy terrorists will pop up
and you'll forget all about this minor complaint.
On the console you had complete control over your
computer-controlled helpers; making them stand guard, defuse bombs, open doors,
and other odd jobs. For the most part
this aspect of SOCOM remains in this portable rendition, only this time around
you won't get three extra helpers, you only have one, Lonestar. Lonestar is a fairly smart partner; he's
pretty good at taking down enemies on his own and rarely gets in the way. In fact, having only one person to contend
with makes Fireteam Bravo oddly less
frustrating than its console counterparts.
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