SOCOM: Fire Team Bravo

Review

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

Although the story is well put together and does a great job of keeping you interested, it's the online stuff that most people are excited about.  At its core SOCOM has always been an amazing multiplayer experience with a single-player campaign tacked on for good measure, and Fireteam Bravo is no exception.  This may be SOCOM's for foray into the land of portables but you would never know it by looking at its stunning online presentation.  With a dozen levels, tons of weapons, and more game types than you know what to do with, Fireteam Bravo may be the only portable shooter you need.

Despite being on a portable game system, Fireteam Bravo features everything you know and love about the console SOCOM titles.  And when I say everything, I really do mean it … this game seems to have all the based covered.  Perhaps it comes from years of Zipper Interactive refining the game play, level designs, and game types.  Or maybe it's just dumb luck.  Either way, this portable SOCOM manages to shrink everything you love about the series into a handheld form.  You get a fun 16-player experience, plenty of unique levels to fight in, player ranks, and even your own friends lists, everything you expect from a modern day online shooter.

Both veteran SOCOM players and novices alike will be impressed with Fireteam Bravo's twelve multiplayer levels, each offering completely different challenges and hiding spots.  Much like the other games in the series, this PSP version rewards you for exploring the environment and using it to your advantage.  Your tour of duty will have you running all over the world; we're talking about forests, deserts, mountains, and even a few urban environments.  The levels themselves are all extremely large; a 16-player game never feels too crowded and you'll almost always have a place where you can take go and take cover when being shot at.

Along with the 12 new levels, Fireteam Bravo is ready to hit you over the head with two new ways to play the game.  There have always been a lot of different game types in SOCOM's online mode, everything from protecting hostages to all out eight on eight battles to the death.  But this time around Zipper has managed to develop a couple of game types that make this game feel fresh and different from the console versions.  Of the two, Captive is easily the most popular new mode.  In Captive you play a normal eight vs. eight battle, but if somebody dies a teammate can go in and revive them.  Not only does this give the losing side a chance to come back and win the round, but it can keep those who died from having to sit and watch the action for too long.  Captive is one of the best additions to the SOCOM universe, a mode that should have been implemented a long time ago.

The other mode is also unique, but not nearly as much fun as Captive and the other returning modes.  Free-For-All is exactly what it sounds like, a mode where it's you against everybody else in the room.  There are no teams, no friends, just people to kill on your way to being the last one standing.  This isn't a bad idea, it gives SOCOM more of a deathmatch feel, but there's something off about its implementation.  For one thing, since you can't gain your health back it pays to just sit back and let the others wear down your competition.  It's also far too chaotic for its own good in the bigger rooms.  This is one mode I would like to see return in future installments, only next time with a little more polish.

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