SOCOM US Navy Seals Fire Team Bravo - PSP - Preview
The private unveiling of the game was shown behind closed doors at the Sony booth with Ed Byrnes, from Zipper, being on hand to talk about the game. The first thing discussed about the game was how Zipper has decided to really focus on the controls for the game. Ed mentioned that since the PSP lacks dual analog sticks that Zipper wanted to make the controls the number one priority of the game. The biggest change to the controls from the PS2 version to the PSP version is the inclusion of a target lock system. You control the Navy Seal by using the analog nub on the PSP and when you encounter a hostile, the targeting indicator will change to red letting you know that you can lock onto the hostile. Once you’ve locked onto a hostile then you can strafe around the enemy while in combat. But Ed mentioned that just because you’ve locked onto a hostile that doesn’t mean it’s a one shot kill. The targeting indicator will get smaller and become more accurate if you walk slowly while firing. So the slower you move the better accuracy you will have with the target lock system. Ed mentioned that Sony and Zipper do believe that hardcore SOCOM fans will enjoy the controls on the PSP even though it lacks the dual analog stick from the PS2 versions. But for the truly hardcore there is an option for a free look mode that allows you to move the camera around in any direction and still control your Navy Seal.
The game will still include most of the weapons and gameplay situations that has made SOCOM so popular on PS2. The game will include over 30 different types of weapons that can be used during the game. The game will also have up to 14 single player missions available as well but with a nice bonus once a mission is completed. Once you completed a mission then you can use the level in an instant action game where the computer will randomly place enemies throughout the levels. The mission objectives will vary as well, ranging from hostage rescue to bomb removal. The purpose of the instant action mode is to allow gamers on the go the opportunity to play a quick game of SOCOM in 15 to 20 minutes. This opens up an almost limitless amount of replayability in the game because each level will have random enemy encounters.
One big change to accommodate SOCOM moving over to the PSP is the reduction in the number of Seals during a mission. Instead of four Seals you will nowl have only one other Seal with you during a mission. So it’s just you and one other Seal to get through the levels. You still can issue commands to your teammate at all times during the game. The game will include a command button (the circle button) that will bring up a list of commands when pressed, that can be issued. The commands vary depending on the situation but are standard commands that most SOCOM veterans will be used to by now. You can order the Seal to stay put, offer cover fire, move to a different location and several other commands.
This biggest news and surprise for the game is the ability to link up to the PS2 version of SOCOM III. There will be missions in SOCOM III for PS2 and SOCOM for PSP called tandem missions that allow you to unlock additional features within both versions of the game (more than likely weapons will be the majority of the unlockables). So if you complete a tandem mission on the PSP version you can sync that data with the PS2 version of SOCOM III and vice versa. Just link the PSP up to the PS2 with a USB cable and you’re ready to go. Different objectives for the different levels in the game will be unlockable via the tandem missions. The events of both games will be running in tandem with each other at the same time which means a team on the PS2 version will be playing on the same level as your team on the PSP version as well.
The game will offer the mandatory (at least for SOCOM fans anyway) multiplayer modes via the Ad Hoc mode and Infrastructure mode. This feature was not on display at E3 and currently the number of maps and number of gamers it will support is still undecided. When I asked if anything will be done about cheaters that will try to exploit the game Sony/Zipper did mention that if necessary the game will offer a version update to the game. Sony/Zipper aren’t too concerned about cheaters for the Ad Hoc mode but will be monitoring the game during the Infrastructure (Wi-Fi Internet) mode. If they see something that needs to be corrected it will be addressed.
When I had a chance to play the game on the show floor it looked much better on the PSP than it did on display (on a big screen TV) behind closed doors. The frame rate was a little sluggish but hopefully that should be corrected with the final release. The graphics did look a little ugly with some of the textures being very bland and lacking detail that one might expect with a marquee PSP game. The level I played on was a pier type level where I had to rescue hostages being held prisoner. The targeting system took a while to get use to as well and unfortunately I was unable to perform a lock onto a hostile to strafe around while firing. Movement in the game was easy to do and the camera usually maintained a decent angle to keep a clear view. The only time the game would obstruct the view was done for the pacing of the game. If an enemy was hiding behind a barrel does a Navy Seal have the chance to swing their viewpoint around to look behind the barrel? The game offers a few viewpoints you can switch to based upon the weapon you have equipped. The game includes a thermal vision mode as well to help you figure out where a hostile is located. But even at this early stage the game was still fun to play. I was able to get through most of the pier level before being eliminated. Moving slowly through the level was the best bet for survival since the accuracy was better at a slower pace. Once a room was cleared out of the hostiles then I was able to contain the hostages and move on to the next part of the level. There is a map/radar system located on the bottom right hand corner of the screen. The hostages will appear on screen at all times but sometimes the hostiles won’t appear until you get right on top of them. So take it slow and easy.
Even at this early stage
SOCOM for PSP is shaping up to be a nice addition for the PSP. The single
player levels, the multiplayer options and standard SOCOM gameplay will surely
have SOCOM veterans chomping at the bit. But the ability to link up to SOCOM
III for the PS2 is a great feature that hopefully will be included in more PSP
games in the future. If the graphics can be tightened up for the final
release then this will be a must-have game for all gamers.