|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Slant Six Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 16, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (16 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Buying most recently released video games is almost like getting two games in one. Almost every new game ships with a multiplayer component nowadays, hoping to provide players with something to keep them coming back long after they've finished playing through the single-player campaign. While it is possible for both portions of a game to be great, more often than not it seems like it's either one or the other that carries the load. Frequently it can seem like the added multiplayer is almost a throwaway, tacked-on experience and the single-player portion of the game is ultimately all that players are left with. However, there are also a few cases where the single-player campaign winds up being the big disappointment, leaving the comparatively better multiplayer experience as easily the best part of the package. Sadly, this second scenario is where SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 (FB3) finds itself.
There are many things that contribute to the completely lackluster single-player experience in FB3, not the least of which is a lame storyline filled with more clichés than can be counted. Players are put in control of a SEALs team tasked with a super secret mission in the fictional country of Koratvia. While this mission is supposed to be dangerous, it is also related that it should be a quick get in, get out job for your team. However, since it isn't endorsed officially, should anything go wrong you and your team will be on your own ugh. I'll give you two guesses as to how that goes. From start to finish the storyline is incredibly bland and uninteresting, maintaining the same impact whether you fully watch the story segments or just go make a sandwich while they play out. Since the story is what is supposed to drive me through the campaign, not enjoying the story left me feeling like I was just marching through levels blasting random people with no purpose or care as to why.
While story may not be that big of a factor for all players, the awkward controls, poor A.I., linear missions, and extreme ease of getting through the game will surely affect everyone who plays FB3. Controlling a third-person shooter on the PSP certainly isn't what you'd consider ideal. The developers have certainly tried to make it work without having a second analog stick, but even though they've done a fairly commendable job, it still feels very convoluted and unwieldy. For example, you can lock onto target enemies with the R button and fire using the X button to take them out. Most of the time this works fine, but if you'd like to take a more tactical shot, perhaps going for a single headshot to conserve ammunition rather than pumping a ton of needless shots into an enemy's chest, you'll need to take your thumb off of the analog nub in order to press up on the D-pad so that you can aim using the weapon's scope. This is fairly clunky and often not worthwhile as it leaves you momentarily unprotected since you can't move.
Luckily, though, getting killed isn't usually something you need to worry about. One reason why this is the case is that most of your enemies seem to have very little intelligence. You'll see some enemies making use of cover but they'll eventually either continue to peak out in the same two spots again and again or just decide to run in the same circle until they are eventually shot. Other foes won't even make it this complicated, instead just standing out in the open waiting to eat a bullet. My personal favorite A.I. failure happens when you attempt to take out enemies at a great distance with a scoped weapon. Even if you have already killed numerous nearby enemies, directly next to or in front of them, if you are far enough away from your target, they'll stand completely still and just wait for you to line up another perfect headshot.
Things get even easier when you factor in your squad mates who are actually surprisingly competent. You can issue a variety of orders to your allies such as moving them to a specific position or telling them to attack a particular target, but this is often just a waste of time. Either they've already engaged the enemy by the time you manage to issue whatever order you had intended to or you have come to the realization that your orders just seem to be slowing them down. Left unattended, your teammates are actually incredibly accurate and manage to take out most enemies without a problem. Even if they do manage to take too much damage during a firefight and go down, they can easily be revived by you or another member of the squad. They're also quite good at reviving themselves as well, essentially making you a fairly useless part of the team, especially when you consider that if you go down, then you'll immediately be forced to restart your game from your last checkpoint.
With your importance to the squad being reduced to essentially just moving forward so that your A.I. teammates can continue on with their slaughter, it would have at least been nice if not all of the missions had been essentially the same as the last. Besides a few standout moments such as a night vision-fueled creep through a building or a bazooka fight with a helicopter, every mission feels pretty indistinguishable. The basic formula seems to be to get from point A to point B, kill a horde of enemies, tell teammates to open a door, survive another horde, and repeat indefinitely with a few smaller groups of foes occasionally thrown in to keep you awake.