SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault - PS2 - Preview 2
When Baja Fresh decided to make their burritos enchilado-style, they created a combined assault of delicious flavors. Similarly, when Zipper Interactive (developers of the SOCOM series) decided to make a standalone upgrade to SOCOM 3, they created a combined assault of lethal, uber-intense gameplay features.
Instant Action is back for more ... well, action! Players will find more challengers now than ever thanks this game's multiplayer compatibility with SOCOM 3 (its maps, players, etc.). This all comes courteous of the original SOCOM 3, with all of its goodness baked right into this upgrade.
Players will also have the joy of cruising around in new, highly destructive vehicles. They'll take control of new weapons, and enter battlefields that have yet to be explored.
Thus far it's unclear how much the base gameplay mechanics will be changed. Various tweaks are promised, though the exact area of these improvements have yet to be determined.
Right now the game plays pretty close to the last. Character movement, team commands, weapon firing, camera/crosshairs changing – it's all the same. Granted, this is a bare-bones demo that's been put together with work-in-progress material. But no matter how many tweaks actually make it into the final game, chances are players will think of this as a familiar, classically developed SOCOM.
First-run objectives had me and my team exploring a winter wonderland. Or rather, a wintry land that left us in wonder. Having already infiltrated the area, the enemy had a distinct advantage over my team. We came in without seclusion, and at first, without a plan. It doesn't take a clip full of bullets to be killed in this game – one or two well-placed shots and the recipient is a goner. Within seconds I was dead. The mission had been failed, and it was time to re-start. Using the mountainous area (along with trees and anything else I could think of) for cover, I made my way through the first batch of enemies.
At times like this, when you're being shot at so viciously, it's tempting to shout, "Take no prisoners!" In most games that'd suffice. But in Combined Assault players will be able to restrain enemies instead of killing them. We can thank Solid Snake for the idea - prior to Metal Gear Solid 2, I can't think of any action games that gave players an option other than kill-or-be-killed. It works well here, and will prevent you from having to waste extra bullets on enemies who are willing to surrender. And with bullets being so scarce, you're going to want to watch your ammo closely.
This preview build presented a handful of objectives: demolish a helicopter, destroy enemy communications, and search for survivors. These are all pretty straightforward - the hardest part is staying alive until you get to your destination. The mountainous environment can be quite hellacious since your radar cannot clearly distinguish between an enemy who is directly in front or directly below of your SEAL. This is another challenge players will have to overcome, most likely leading to a bit of trial and error in the game as they attempt to complete each mission.
As with the last game, players who accidentally shoot their comrades will be treated like a traitor. In other games the bullet is likely to go right through your teammate. Some games have the bullet hit – but not damage – your allies, having them say something silly like, "Hey, that hurt." You won't find any of that blasphemy here. SOCOM is purely a realistic, adrenaline-pumping shooter that uses reality to increase the rush. And to this day it's done so better than any other shooter that's taken a shot at being realistic. Often it only thinks it has achieved such status. Combined Assault, however, actually does.
Cooperative players will be excited to learn of Combined Assault's four-player co-op mode. Crosstalk with SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 2 is being enhanced, extending the fun for anyone who's looking forward to the series' next PSP release.
Graphically the game is looking just as good as the last. The explosions could use some work, but players will be impressed by the subtle animations, the character and environment detail, and the consistency of the camera system.
Due this fall, SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault is set to shake up the shooter genre once more. Developed exclusively for PlayStation 2 by Zipper Interactive, the game should be just what you need to hold you over until the series makes its grand PlayStation 3 debut.