PS2 Reviews: SOCOM: US Navy Seals
SOCOM: US Navy Seals screenshots
The Final Say!
Primal - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: 26 July 2003
Review Score 9.5/10
Distributed By: Sony
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SOCOM: US Navy Seals is the latest squad based first person shooter to arrive on the PlayStation 2, that not only promises gamers to be extremely entertaining but takes the genre to the next level of realism. In SOCOM, you play the role of a US Navy Seal commander that must navigate your elite squad through a variety of hostile environments and deadly missions, all in the name of world peace.
The main aspect of SOCOM that sets it apart from its competition (Ghost Recon, Conflict Desert Storm) is the introduction of a headset that lets you hear squad members, give orders to them and also makes the gaming environment that "tad" more realistic. The only downside to the headset is that it makes the game expensive ($139 RRP) but I'm sure as developers and game companies learn how successful this device was, other games will soon be using this type of technology. Without getting too far off track, the headset simple connects into a spare USB port on your PlayStation 2 but unlike other USB devices, a extension cord is possible to extend the length of the device.
SOCOM: US Navy Seals contains a total of 12 exciting missions that are based in various locales throughout the world, that include different weather climates, sceneries and of course both night and daytime missions. The basic element behind SOCOM is to eliminate all terrorist activity but ensuring that both you and your squad survive the proceedings.
The control system of SOCOM uses a combination of both the PS2 DualShock 2 controller and the headset that is included in the package. You basically use the controller to control your main character through the use of just about every button on your controller, not that this is a bad thing mind you. The game itself handles like a well made first person shooter, with a variety of controller combination available, depending on your preferred style of gaming. In addition to the controller is the famous SOCOM headset that allows you to give voice commands to your Navy Seals. It should also be noted that the control system is a little fiddly and does take some time getting use to.
Each mission starts at a secret military base where you are informed of the current mission objectives and what is at stake. As with strategic first person shooters on the PC, you can also equip your Navy Seals with selected weaponry but it should be noted that your stock standard weaponry easily lets you complete the missions without the fuss of additional statistics and weapons.
Once you are in the mission, you have the choice of controlling your Navy Seal either in first person or third person view, depending on your preference but for that added touch of realism, I would recommend that you stick to a first person view.
For those that do not wish to use the headset, you can also manually control your seals via an ingame menu system but if you are going to do that, what's the point of getting this game? However, it should be noted that it does take some time getting use to the headset as generally most gamers are not inclined to talk their consoles. You can issue your seals a variety of different commands such as "fire", "retreat" and "bravo" to name a few of the commands that are available. The headset is also used as a device that lets you listen to headquarters so that you do not lose sight of the mission. The beauty of SOCOM that will be mentioned in the "Sound" area of this review is that the headset is only used to hear the voices of your commander and your navy seals, whereas your television or entertainment theatre setup has all the other sound effects such as music, gun fire, explosions and enemy voices.
The gaming environment of SOCOM is huge and extremely detailed that contains many levels of access, rather than just one flat surface. The game is intended as a stealth game so you must use everything around to your advantage such as the shadows, boxes, weather and whatever else comes to mind. The closest thing this game could be compared to is Metal Gear Solid 2 meets Tom Clancy. The combat system of SOCOM is quite intense at the best of times but you will find that you and your seals are far superior over your enemies as the enemy AI is a little slow and ignorant of these "western" invaders. On a few occasions, the enemy units would just sit there while the seals generously gave them heavy gunfire but seeing how the control system does take some time getting use to, it is almost a fair trade.
Graphically SOCOM has some spectacular graphics, especially the gaming environments that you play. There is also a variety of different weather and lighting effects such as real-time snow and some amazing light sources that look extremely realistic. The animation of the enemies and the Seals is perfect but on occasion, sometimes they do suffer from the odd strange move. Everything in SOCOM contains a very polished feel to it but unfortunately, the frame rate does suffer every now and then throughout the game.
The sound quality of SOCOM is phenomenal, from the voice acting of all your navy seals, to the various sound effects in the game such as reloading, shooting, hearing enemy movements or voices and everything else that interacts with the environment such as running on metal decks or crushing your way through heavy snow, perfect! The soundtrack of SOCOM sounds like a Hollywood action movie and really helps get the gamer involved in the interesting storyline.
In conclusion, SOCOM: US Navy Seals is a breath of fresh air to the PS2 gaming scene and finally shows gamers that the developers haven't given up on the gaming world through bad ports or badly reworked stories. Although SOCOM supports an intensive single-player mode, it also supports multiplayer via a broadband modem but until impulsegamer is sent the correct setup, we are unable to test this aspect of the game. Apparently it is quite impressive in the States and UK, so hopefully it will take off in Australia. SOCOM: US Navy Seals is a great game that takes PS2 gaming to the next stage, highly recommended!
- Andrew B
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