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.