SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals Tactical Strike PSP Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 8.2
Graphics 8.0
Sound 8.2
Value 8.0
Distributor: Sony
Classification:
M15+
Review Date:
February 2008
Reviewer:
Tory Favro

8.0


SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals Tactical Strike

SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals Tactical Strike is almost like Full Spectrum Warrior on the PSP which has the gamer controlling a squad of soldiers in this strategically squad based game. Although you don't control any of the squadmates directly, rather, you issue abstract commands to shoot, throw grenades, snipe, move, and more--and the artificial intelligence handles the rest with surprising efficiency.

Features:

  • Designed specifically for the PSP, the unique interface allows players to control and coordinate different members of the fireteam while experiencing the action from each soldier’s perspective. Players can issue tactical commands to individual soldiers, fireteam elements or their entire fireteam.
  • Authentic, reality-based combat, where tactics determine the outcome of each encounter.
  • Compelling single-player campaign featuring a contemporary narrative based in Panama.
  • Guide your team of four through nine non-linear missions, each created with unique scenarios and challenging mission objectives.
  • Enemy intelligence and behavior have been enhanced with realistic vision and hearing, sophisticated AI and the ability to communicate with each other.
  • Open play invites replay, and improvement is rewarded with command equity, allowing players to upgrade their skills, weapons and equipment.
  • New gameplay format makes SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike easy for anyone to pick up and play while providing a depth of strategy and tactical training that will apeal to fans of the franchise.
  • Play as any one of nine Special Forces each with unique loadouts and weapons.
  • 2-4 player Ad Hoc mode and online Infrastructure play with voice chat.

The finely paced campaign is the game's best facet, though the political narrative that holds it together is far from intriguing. In its defense, the simple setup concerning a kidnapped ambassador does get a bit more involved in the later missions, but it's really just an excuse to throw your team into expansive, cluttered environments littered with evildoing gunmen. Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities to hide and sneak, since Tactical Strike requires as much stealth as it does strategy. You'll spend a good deal of the game moving your team behind various objects and taking potshots at enemies from behind them.

You can move your team as a whole, or separate it into two squads of two SEALs each. Either way, you hold down the circle button to bring up a movement reticle, move it to the desired location with the analog button, and your squad sneakily makes its way to its destination. This works pretty well, but in corridors and tighter areas, it takes some maneuvering.

The game mechanics will also have you sniping distant foes, throwing grenades, firing weapons, breaching doors, and more. Regardless of which choice you make, you select your action from a menu and the artificial intelligence takes care of the rest. The friendly AI does a bang-up job for the most part, and the game nicely walks that tightrope between player involvement and automated actions. You can command your squadmates, but they'll also follow your lead, and intelligently respond to enemy attacks. They'll duck when fired upon, run away from grenades, wait for enemies to emerge from cover before firing, and, when breaching, will take appropriate cover whenever possible.

The missions are long, sometimes taking over an hour to complete, yet the maps are so open-ended that the campaign never wears out its welcome. Once you're done, you can try out the multiplayer options, which allows up to four players to battle it out either locally or online. It's an excellent suite of multiplayer features, featuring five total modes and a host of personalization options.

Free for all and suppression are your standard deathmatch and team deathmatch modes, respectively. In extract, the special forces team attempts to escort a VIP to safety, while the mercs try to eliminate him. The two best modes, however, are collateral damage and demolition. Demolition is an attack-and-defend mode, in which one team defends an object (such as a helicopter) while the other team tries to destroy it. The result is often an intense standoff that hinges on smart use of grenades and teammate revival.

Even better is collateral damage, which is like demolition on steroids. Here, one team tries to destroy a number of vehicles, and the defending team must protect them. It requires more movement and more teamwork than the other modes, and adds a degree of urgency sometimes missing from the single-player game.

Tactical Strike looks and sounds fantastic. The levels are enormous and detailed, filled with lush foliage and decrepit vehicles. Buildings like mansions and churches are rendered beautifully, with clean textures and nice lighting effects. The splendor comes at a price, though, in the form of frustratingly long load times. The impressive visuals are accompanied by solid sound effects and great voice acting, both in English and in other languages. It's sincerely a treat to use a Korean or Spanish team in multiplayer matches, simply to hear the enthusiastic cries of squadmates in their respective languages.

In conclusion, Tactical Strike is a departure from the standard SOCOM gunplay, but it's still worthy of consideration, both from those who enjoy the series and those who like measured tactical gameplay. A few frustrations get in the way of the fun from time to time, but this is still a good strategy/action hybrid that delivers on multiple fronts.






 
 



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