|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Slant Six||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sony||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 6, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: TEEN||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike offers diverse gameplay elements that expand on the SOCOM series. But it's an expansion that hinders the series more than enriches it due to a number of technical flaws. These issues should have been remedied before the game was released. A few of these ingredients are raw, leaving us with a cake that's somewhat half baked.
Looking on the good side, the cake is still edible. There's plenty of gaming nourishment to be extracted from SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike, although you'll have to spit out some of the unsavory bits. Most of the problems I encountered were with the single-player campaign. Here you'll have to deal with camera control issues, stupid A.I. teammates, and some awkward command controls. These aren't huge obstacles to come to terms with, but considering how great the rest of the game is, it's just disappointing that these elements should be overlooked by the developers. The multiplayer mode has its own problems. It suffers from command delays. Not to mention the A.I. teammates are still just as stupid.
Controlling a four-member squad, the game blends elements of action, shooting, stealth, and strategy. There is a story, but it's not presented in a dramatic fashion. There is no emotion involved. It's treated as just another day at the office as the SEALs are commissioned with rescuing a fellow American diplomat from his Panamanian captors. It's not so much told, as it's revealed through communications with superiors and in mission briefings. At least the story is believable. It provides a good setting for the ensuing combat with plenty of jungle, rustic towns, and rundown industrial compounds to frolic in.
Embracing a slightly new direction for the series, SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike, streamlines some of the strategic elements in favor of more immediate action, which deepens the experience. Stealth is not what you would necessarily call action, but it bridges the gap between action and strategy segments. It plays an important role in the gameplay, but it doesn't overshadow it. There is also plenty of shooting, but unlike previous SOCOM titles, the shooting is also tastefully restrained to provide a good balance of gameplay elements.
Teammates can be directly or indirectly controlled. Orders are easily issued by pressing one of the face buttons which will then open up an assortment of options. Only the most basic of commands are available which greatly streamlines the process. You don't have to be a computer programmer to command your unit. Commands such as shoot, move, launch grenades, snipe, open doors, and hold, can be assigned in advance and processed in order of execution. Obeying orders is not a problem for your A.I., as they go about their tasks with extreme efficiency. The problem is that they seem to have huge deficiencies in their survival instinct. Standing up in the middle of a gunfight while eschewing their cover, is just plain ridiculous. You can't make excuses for a move like that. Also, when taking cover, they will sometimes get stuck trying to move through an object rather than go around it. You'll also have a bit of babysitting on your hands when you have to escort non-military A.I. through hostile territory. They will often walk ahead of you as though they are impervious to lead fillings. Fortunately, there are commands to tell them to get the #$%& down.