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SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs - PS2 - Review


Posted by: jkdmedia

Review Rating 9.0 Amazing
Where to start...  OK, Socom II came out recently and many "Sony" online gamers could not be happier.  The original Socom was so good that it warranted purchasing an above average price tagged game (if you bought the headset pack) and a broadband adapter.  Players rallied around the game's user-friendly setup and the fact that you need not pay for a monthly fee to play.  Then came the cheaters, players who cracked the games code and made themselves invincible or invisible or ran through walls.  It was enough to make legitimate players sick to their stomachs, as a well fought battle was reaching it's final round and a cheater enters the game, killing all players in mere seconds.  Frustrating.  But then the rumor started flying that SONY too, was sickened by all the cheaters, so they made every effort to make the game cheat-proof.
Did it work?  Does the game have enough new features to warrant a purchase?  Will this review be long?  Please read along and find out.
Socom II (S2) is almost exactly the same game at it's core.  Players primarily tear through the game using a 3rd person perspective camera system.  Gamers select their squad members and arm them with an ensemble of weapons and equipment, as they go through various missions around the world doing battle with weapons smugglers, revolutionaries and all sorts of other baddies that are up to no good.  All in the name of peace of course.  What makes this game stand out from others like it, is that it gets the whole idea of squad based combat down cold.  Even while playing the single player game, you will need to really diversify your team members for some missions and equip them almost the same in others.  With the addition of the headset (which I recommend you get) the gameplay dynamic is opened even further with voice commands and the information being broadcast.  The whole scenario makes you feel the tension of a real life military mission.
Since this is a sequel, the single player game has been notched up a bit in the difficulty.  Some of the guns no longer have the same effectiveness, game levels are hitched on the slightest thing.  Make too much noise and it's over, or let a hostage get killed and it's over, failure is not an option in the real military and the game certainly keeps that true.  Probably the biggest change in the game is the difficulty level.  Players can try and beat the game under five different levels (Rank: Ensign, Lieutenant, Commander, Captain or Admiral) and in doing so, you open up new weapons and or characters to be used either in the single player game or the online game.  And considering the amount of items, intel and other things that can be unlocked, players will want to do their best as the items unlocked can prove very valuable later on.
As far as the online game goes (and I know for a fact that this is the game's real selling point) everything has improved.  Whenever you speak on the headset, your name tag pops up on the screen so other players know exactly who is trash talking.  A life bar lets you know how much damage you have taken, and when you look directly at your buddies or enemies, you know exactly how much life they have too.  While in the waiting room, players can talk about how good (or bad) the game was and who needs to move to the other side.  An auto-clan tag is available for gamers in a clan, and you can even find where your other clan members are playing by looking at your members list in the lobby.  It's like they took everything that's right about online gaming that the Xbox has and made it available for PS2 owners.  
One of the highlights for me in the game, was that all the old online maps from the first game are there, only tweaked.  Levels that were in the daytime are now at night, levels have additional tunnels or obstacles, levels have machine gun nests that players can use to light up their enemies.  AND, levels have additional objectives, which were taken in queue by the game's newest online levels.  Levels that involve protecting military hostages or assassinating them if you are a terrorist.  Blowing up breach points in order to complete your objective.  It's really a step in the right direction for online play.
I think it's important to mention that the game continues in the same interactive environment as the original did.  Players can climb walls, open doors and run and jump around levels that have varying landscapes.  I couldn't help but think that this game is everything that the Tom Clancy games are not.  And speaking of landscapes, the game's graphics are breathtaking, thicker foliage, clean sight lines and better camouflage for the characters.  A beautiful looking game.  Which brings me to one of the games more discouraging aspects.  It almost seems like they have put too much information on the screen HUD wise,   Between the life bar, the communication window, the radar and weapon information, it makes making out your enemy a bit difficult.  I found an option that allows you to remove the communication window, but for some reason it would come back when I least wanted it and would stay sometimes when I thought I was off.  Confusing.  
I did like the music that played during the game, inspirational patriotic music while being a SEAL and twangy 3rd world country music while playing as a terrorist.  All in all the music was good, but the gunfire and explosions were where it all paid off.  I had to keep turning down my receiver as the game broadcasts in LOUD and my poor wife thought gunfire had erupted downstairs.  
Lastly, while playing online, I have already run into a player that somehow managed to play the game invisible, thereby eliminating myself and my teammates without ever being seen.  I don't know if this was a glitch in the game or whether or not someone has already hacked the code but if this game plans on having any legs.  The Sony servers will need to be all over the cheaters, banning them from the site.  
The game is worth the purchase just for the single player game, the fact that this is one of the best online games available on any system right now elevates this to a must buy for the online adventurer.


Gameplay: 8.2
A fast paced game that is a hoot to play online, the single player game is a darn near perfect reenactment of a military operation.  Good controls and a strong gaming experience almost negate the overactive HUD.
Graphics: 8.7
A very well done game graphically from the weapon load out and equip screens to the in game visuals.  Interactive environments that are rendered splendidly and bright explosions are icing on an already tasty cake.
Sound: 8.0
In game military sounds and tense music combined with quality voice work coming through the headset really puts you in the mood for a little covert ops.
Difficulty: High
Not the easiest game to play to completion and it only gets worse as the difficulty level increases.
Concept: 7.2
Not the newest idea for a game, the Military versus terrorists, but that doesn't mean it can't be a great game, the idea just isn't terribly cutting edge.  But the level designs and varying tasks are.
Multiplayer: 9.5
One of the finest online games on the market.  If you love competition against other humans, then this is the game for you.  Join a clan, wage war against others and become an online hero like the Socom legend ANDY 73.
Overall: 9.0
A very, very, good game that warrants purchase.  It doesn't get any better as far as online play goes.  Go get this game.
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