SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Zipper Interactive, Inc.
Genre
Stealth Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood
 
Grade
The Good

• Great stealth/team experience
• Online gameplay
• Audio portion is well done

The Bad

• Graphics have some rough spots
• AI inconsistent

 
Grade
A-

In SOCOM: US Navy Seals, you play as Kahuna, a member of a four-man Seal team. With your teammates, Boomer, Jester and Specter, you are sent on a series of missions to deal with terrorist factions. Zipper Interactive has gone to great lengths to get the game as close to the real action that Navy Seals go through. In fact, they've had the Seals provide advice and even motion capture their movements and techniques.

SOCOM is broken up into locations, where the four-man team is inserted and must perform set primary and secondary objectives to complete the mission. Objectives can range from disabling bombs, rescuing hostages, acquiring intel to securing locations. All the while, you'll need to deal with enemy troops, which often means using stealth and tactics. Before each mission, you'll be briefed about the situation and given the option to change your team's equipment. Unlike most action games, your team can only carry limited equipment and two guns, but you can pick up weapons from dispatched enemies if you run out of ammo. During the mission, you need to use the environment and shadows to keep yourself hidden from the enemy.

One of the major focuses of the game is the use of the command menu, where you can give orders to either your teammate, the Bravo team or the team as a whole. You can use either the headset that comes with the game or your controller to issue these commands. You can tell your team members to move to certain areas, follow you, provide cover or even perform mission specific tasks, like placing explosives or disabling bombs. Combat is easy to pick up as each weapon has a firing target which you need to focus on an enemy. You can set your view to third person, first person and even use the scope with rifles. The player also has access to grenades and C4, but it's in your best interest to be careful with them as your team reacts realistically to damage. You won't have life gauges to tell you how well your doing. Instead, the player can be killed by a head shot or even take damage from a stray bullet and leave a blood trail.

The graphics engine for SOCOM is for the most part pretty good. While character models for the Seal team are well detailed and animated well, the NPCs and terrorists don't look as good and seem to be animated less realistically. You'll find some rough edges in the environment and some of the texture maps are fairly plain. There are some nice weather effects and the game sports a lot of nice effects, like when the player or enemies leave a trail of blood behind them. Locations are nicely varied and include a lot of details, like thick foliage that can be used for cover, but you can tell that the fog and darkness present in the levels is used to cover up pop-up. What it boils down to is that SOCOM looks good enough not to bring the excellent gameplay down.

The audio portion of SOCOM is top notch. The voice acting serves a purpose in giving you objectives and updates. Allies and enemies also speak and have a good variety of lines, often giving you an idea of the situation as it unfolds. The music is exemplary in adding to the military theme of the game. Also, the sound effects are dead on. The solid execution of the audio really adds something to the gameplay that is essential to fully enjoying and succeeding in the game. Plus, the inclusion of the headset that comes with the game really draws the player in.

SOCOM really only has a few things that still seem unresolved. The AI seems inconsistent. For the most part, the AI seems good, but there are times when both allies and enemies will do something that makes you wonder "what are you thinking?" Enemies can be standing around while you pick them off one by one and not bother to take cover and sometimes, your team members will stand around, waiting to get shot. Luckily, if you tire of the games' AI, you can take it online and play with up to 16 humans (for as good or bad as that is). The only other drawback is the fact that the game only saves at the end of a mission and considering how easy it is to die or mess up even the smallest aspect of a mission, don't be surprised if you'll be playing the same mission a few times before finishing.

SOCOM is a good idea well executed. While the graphics engine may have a few rough edges, they don't detract from the great stealth action. If you can forgive the spotty AI, you will enjoy the challenge the game provides. Hopefully, SOCOM will do well enough that Zipper Interactive will make a sequel.

- - Vane

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