SOCOM: Fire Team Bravo

Review

posted 1/24/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP

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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