|SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals|
|Developer: Zipper Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-32 net play
Way back in June 2002 Sony finally got around to releasing their Network Adaptor after months and months of hype and setbacks. Needless to say, without a functional system joining all the online gaming together into a cohesive working package (like Xbox live) very few games had online modes that were properly developed and supported, let alone patronised by gamers. But through four hard years of rocky online gaming there has always been one series of titles that has been keeping it afloat, with addictive gameplay and great server support. That’s right, the US Navy Seals are back with their third outing and it is quite simply the best yet.
SOCOM II was released only a year after the original classic and always felt like an update rather than a true sequel - yes, new maps were added, old ones were tweaked and the problems from the original were mostly fixed but nothing really ground-breaking was shown. After taking more time to perfect the game Zipper has taken the bunny rabbit and replaced it with a golden elephant - everything is bigger, better and more shiny!
To accommodate the larger maps and also to add a new dynamic to the gameplay S3 has a range of vehicles for both the SEALS and terrorists, ranging from nippy buggies and pickups with mounted machine guns through to the obligatory heavy tanks. This not only makes navigating the huge maps a lot easier but forces you to work as a team, either by all bundling into a vehicle or working together to take one out. All the vehicles handle really forgivingly; movement and acceleration is simple, the jeeps powerslide round corners when you get the speed up and even the tanks are pretty nippy and manoeuvrable!
Where the first two games also had a rather un-engaging single player mode S3 has a wealth of missions to offer, spanning across a few storylines in different war-torn zones, all rife with evil militia-types. Rather than the missions in the first two games where movement was very slow and tedious, like Ghost Recon in a coma, S3’s missions feel more action-packed. Objectives update every couple of minutes, there’ll always be someone to shoot or something to blow up and you’ll very rarely get lost. The enemies are pretty smart at the higher difficulty levels, teaming up and using grenades to flush you and your team out of cover and your teammates also defend themselves rather than stand around and get shot.
The rest of the controls have been kept pretty much to the same winning combo they've been since the original SOCOM and it still stands out as one of the best, one that developers are only now starting to catch up with and copy. The movement is tight and fast enough and the mapping of secondary items (like grenades) mapped to the quick-buttons on the shoulders is still an invaluable tool in firefights. The only real addition to the mix are the controls for swimming, which are simply directional with the option to hide underwater by holding triangle, which makes hiding from enemies a little easier, although I’ve not used it properly myself: I always drown!
By now you must be thinking: “Wow, a game with great gameplay, excellent online AND single-player missions, this sounds like the game of the century!”
To sum up, SOCOM III has improved in almost every way; huge maps, more players online, vehicles, swimming, weapon customisation, a great single-player mode… I could could go on for a while but I won’t, there’s an online deathmatch with my name on it. All I can say is that the graphics really do fall way below the great level of quality the rest of the game was created with, and that’s what stops this otherwise brilliant game from getting the top marks. Anyone who bought a Network Adaptor and wondered what the hell they’re supposed to do with it need look no further, and those who thought GRAW didn’t quite get things right need to pick this up now.
- Big maps
- Bigger and better online
- Great single-player
- Gun customisation
- Really poo graphics
- Glitches everywhere!