|Zipper Interactive, Inc.
| The Good
Great stealth/team experience
Audio portion is well done
| The Bad
Graphics have some rough spots
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.