PSP Review – SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3

The venerable SOCOM series has already had three entries on the PlayStation Portable. The first two, Fireteam Bravo 1 & 2, were released by series creators Zipper Interactive and were generally well-received. The third portable entry, Tactical Strike, was released by Slant Six Games and was largely considered average at best. Their latest entry, Fireteam Bravo 3, hopes to win back fans of the series on the go. Can Slant Six declare “Mission Accomplished” this time?

The team

The SOCOM series has always been known as a tactical shooter. The same can be said about this entry, but on a much smaller scale. You are in command of three AI-controlled squadmates, and they follow commands pretty well. However, the game often seems to be on auto-pilot. Your fellow SEALs are quite adept at firing their weapons and hitting their targets. In fact, much of the game can be played by sending your teammates into the middle of a firefight and sitting back while your enemies are torn to bits. Sure, occasionally one of your squad members (I’m looking at you, Toro) will get knocked down, but you simply run over to them and hold square, and they are revived for another round of headshots. Of course, for those looking for a challenge, moving the team into proper cover and taking a majority of the enemies out yourself is still definitely doable.

Mission briefing

The main single-player campaign is pretty short. Not including the tutorial level, there are nine missions that will take you around 3-4 hours to complete. While this sounds short (and it is), there is plenty of reason to go back and replay missions. You earn Combat Experience points for every mission you complete based on performance and difficulty level. These points can be spent in an in-game store on new equipment, gear, and accessories for your player, and can be used both in the campaign as well as online. There are also various hidden bonus objectives and pieces of intel to find, which adds to that CE bank account of yours to spend on more weapons and goodies. On top of that, there are also in-game medals that you can earn for satisfying various conditions, much like the Trophy system we are used to on the PSN. It all makes for a pretty addictive experience.

Somebody just cleaned up with an RPG.

This game really feels like a console multiplayer game on the go–not a MAG scale of multiplayer, obviously, but more like Modern Warfare 2, in that although the game has a single-player campaign, it really just serves as a long tutorial for the online multiplayer. There is full clan support, as well as voice chat. In various tests, lag was virtually non-existent and voices could be heard loud and clear. There are a wide variety of gametypes that can be created, and health regeneration, player revival, and friendly fire can all be toggled on or off to adjust the gameplay from a casual experience to a hardcore, last-man-standing showdown.

Customize that soldier!

Co-op is a welcome addition here. Not only can you and up to three buddies play custom missions of varying difficulty levels (and accompanying CE rewards), but you can play through the entire campaign if you so desire. This further adds to the replayability of the game. Don’t have three friends with copies of the game to play with? No problem there, since the same co-op functionality exists in Infrastructure mode.

Stealth kills are always rewarding.

While playing this game, I got a wave of nostalgia from my early SOCOM days on the PlayStation 2, and this was a good sign – if the servers stay loaded with a good chunk of players, this will be played for a while to come. Even when the servers are put offline for the last time, the game is still accessible via Adhoc wireless mode. Slant Six Games has done well this time, and SOCOM vets, as well as new players to the series would not go wrong in purchasing this title.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

A nice choice of varied weapons

Online component is excellent

Single-player very short, not very challenging

8 out of 10