Review by Offspring992

Reviewed: 03/07/03 | Updated: 03/07/03

6 months after release and it is still fresh and new

Despite numerous delays, the Network Adaptor finally arrived to retailers across the country on August 27, 2002, and SOCOM: US. Navy SEALs shipped at the same time. But why wait this long to review the game? After all, the game has been available for nearly 7 months, and I have been playing the game religiously since day one. First impressions aren’t as good as long time impressions, so that is why I waited 6 months before I decided to review it. Despite a few shortcomings, SOCOM: US. Navy SEALs is a solid game that anyone interested in team based shooters can get themselves into.

SOCOM was announced way back at E3 2001, and for some time, there wasn’t too much information about the game until E3 2002, when there was a fully networked game being played. Unfortunately, the game did not run as smoothly as possible, and people were beginning to wonder if the game would be a success or a complete failure .

Chances are, you have heard of SOCOM somewhere , in a magazine, Internet article, or TV commercial. It was hyped for the following reasons:
1. The included headset to command your troops in the single player campaign.
2. The first “official” online game for the PS2 with 16 player deathmatches.
3. voice chat support for both online and the single player campaign.

SOCOM is by all means not a quake/halo shooter. You can not run around in circles killing everything in sight. There are no med kits, armor or anything that heals you in SOCOM. You can only take about 4 or 5 hits before you die, and if you are thinking SOCOM is anything like Halo, you are dead wrong. If you are not careful, you will be iced very quickly. You only get 2 weapons, and not a lot of ammo. This game requires stealth and teamwork in order to be successful.

Graphics and Presentation
SOCOM’s visuals are quite impressive. While the environments themselves don’t reach out and grab you, the character models and animations might do just that. The character models are very detailed, featuring the latest in SEAL technology. Each SEAL is loaded with all of the things the real SEALs have. In fact, Zipper modeled the real SEALs. The equipment, keeping everything authentic as possible. The character animation is quite well. Each character runs, walks, aims, crouches, crawls, peeks around corners, etc very smoothly, and they don’t look like robots doing it. The death animations are another sight to behold. They can range from falling onto your knees, and then onto your stomach, falling flat onto your back, and my personal favorite, getting shot, falling onto your stomach, then crawling forward hoping that someone will help you, and then, well, dying. There is also a wide selection of animations for wounds as well. Your SEAL could take a shot to the leg, grab the wound, and then keep going. You could even get shot in a certain area, fall down, and then get back up. It’s too bad limping animations weren’t included, though. In certain levels, such as the Alaska level, you will leave foot prints, or even blood in your tracks. A nice addition so you can track down your enemies. A very cool detail in the graphics area is the “flashbang” grenade. If you are close to one of these things when it goes off, your screen goes white, you can’t see or hear anything until a few seconds later when you start to see and hear things again. It’s the little things like these, which make the visual department of SOCOM such a treat

Sounds
In a game like this, sound can be a very big issue, and thankfully, Zipper got the job done by producing excellent gunfire sounds, voice-overs, and music . Each gun in the game, along with being modeled for looks, was also recorded for gunfire sounds as well, to keep everything authentic. Silenced weapons can have a great effect. You will not be able to hear them, but they will zip right by you and hit trees, mountains, or other players. On the other hand, louder rifles, such as sniper rifles, you will be able to hear all the way across the map. If you are close to a grenade when it goes off, there will be a high-pitched ringing noise for a few seconds, until you regain your hearing again. How cool is that?

Along with the excellent sounds, there is also excellent voice acting. Your control team gives you objectives is a calm voice, your team can have a calm or tense voice as well. Ranging from “Tango spotted, six o’clock” to “Man down!” is pretty much shouting. The terrorists even speak their own native language as well. Overall, the voice acting is impressive.

The soundtrack is also above average. While not as good as newer games such as Xenosaga or Metal Gear Solid 2, it gets the job done. The great thing about the soundtrack is the transition from music to ambient sounds, and vice versa. During a massive fight, the music could kick in, and then stop after it is finished, and in a case where you are trying to be as stealthy as possible, the music will not kick in.

Controls
Every single button on the PS2 us used. Here are the controls for SOCOM:
Move SEAL/sidestep – left analog stick
Aim/look – right analog stick
Change stance (stand, crouch, prone) – Triangle
Jump – square
Talk/give commands - Circle
Peek around corners – left/right on the D-pad
Fire weapon/throw/deploy – R1
Switch to weapon 1 – L1
Switch to weapon 2 – L2
Open inventory – R2
Toggle firing mode – L3 (press left analog stick in)
Reload – R3 (press right analog stick in)
Switch between first/third person perspective – up/down on the D-pad
Cycle between teammates during Online Play – left/right on the D-pad
View kills/deaths online – Select.

As you can see, there are a lot of things you need to know, and at first, is may seem like a daunting task, but after some time, the controls become second nature. I have one complaint, and that is the placement of “Toggle firing mode.” You have to press the left analog stick in, like you would a button, and that is where it can mean life or death while playing online, or even in single player. Often times, you will get into a firefight with an enemy, and hit the left analog stick in to change your rate of fire. All of a sudden, you stop shooting. And you get killed. It is the same with reloading, except not as bad. What should have been done is placed the “change rate of fire” on a shoulder button, such as L1, so you could switch between your weapons with one button instead of two.

Now that I have got the bad out of the way, there are also a lot of good things about the controls. There are a ton of options. You can change the configuration if you don’t like the default setup, you can invert the Y-axis or leave it off if you choose, and change the sensitivity.

Single player
For those who bought this game only for the Multiplayer aspect, let me remind you, there is a campaign here and it isn’t bad either. The campaign takes place through 12 levels in 4 different regions: Alaska, Turkmenistan, Thailand, and the Congo Jungle. If you are thinking, “12 missions, that’s it?!” I will say this: The campaign will hook you after mission 5, and that is a promise. These levels are long, and the last 3 missions will take you at least an hour, if not more depending upon hat grade you want to earn.

Before you start each mission you get a screen that has the following options: Overview, mission details, objectives, map, and armory. Overview gives you the scoop about the area and people, mission details, does exactly that, gives you details on the mission, objectives gives you your primary objectives, map gives you a map of the area, and armory is where you set your team’s weapons.

In the armory, you choose from a primary weapon, which is an automatic weapon or machine gun, or a sniper rifle. Secondary weapon is a pistol. After you have your weapons picked, you have another option for inventory. Your inventory can hold up to 3 items, ranging from grenades, to ammo packs, to claymore. After you have everything, return to the previous menu, and select go.

When the mission starts, the control team gives you primary objectives, and any information you need to know. Your team gives you any advice that they have as well. and this is all done through the headset, which plugs into the PS2 USB port.

You may think that giving orders to your team is a daunting task, but it is actually quite simple, and after the first mission, you will have it down. Here is how it works: Say I want my team to escort me to a certain waypoint, I would say, “Team, escort to Zulu” and my team will lead me to the waypoint. If you want to see what commands are available, just press the circle button once, and a list of commands will show up. Its one of the coolest features in SOCOM, and I wish all military games had this feature. Instead of saying “team” which consists of your 3 teammates, you have “Bravo” which consists of Jester and Specter do one thing, and you and Boomer, who make up “Able” do another task. There are also a few secret commands you can use as well.
When the mission is over, you get another screen and that is where you get graded on your performance. Stealth, Accuracy, and Teamwork are the areas you get graded on, and you get a percentage. Along with this, you get a number of how many primary and secondary objectives you complete, percent complete, and a grade of A, B, C, D, or F.

What I have not mentioned yet is A.I. so I will do it now. The A.I. in SOCOM is a hit or miss. Allow me to explain. The enemy can either be very smart or they can be idiots. At some points during missions, you will see enemy terrorists hiding in bushes, sniping from a high place and sometimes trying to flank you. Other times, they will just sit around right in the open and do nothing at all.

Now we got to your team A.I. which can be worse. I can sum this up in one word, and that is Boomer. Boomer is a complete idiot. I don’t know how this fool made it through training, but he is there, and is completely worthless. Allow me to explain: In a certain mission, I wanted to get a good stealth grade, so I remained as stealthy as possible. I was hiding in a bush, and Boomer was hiding in a bush across from me, and we were right in front of the enemy. I say into the headset: “Able, hold position.” Boomer responds with “Yes, sir.” Next thing I know he gets up, and runs across the to me, alerting the enemy. So I just decide to shoot him in the head for being such an idiot.

Now that its been said and done, the single player campaign is great, despite Boomer. Just be sure that you shoot him in the head at the beginning or send him on suicide missions

Online Play (Broadband Only)
This is the part you have all been waiting for, the online play. I will say this much: Six months later, the game still feels fresh, new, and exciting. The online aspect of SOCOM is why everyone is buying the game and is one hell of an experience. Here is how it all breaks down. There are 12 maps, 3 different modes, and up to 16 players can play in a single game on the SEAL or Terrorist team. Each game consists of a 6 minute round, and first team to win 5 rounds wins the game. Here are each of the modes:
Suppression, Demolition, and Extraction.

Suppression is your standard deathmatch. Eliminate all enemies to win. Demolition is more of a single flag CTF game. In the center of the map lies a bomb. You need to grab the bomb, bring it to the enemy’s base, and plant it. After you plant it, you need to wait 30 seconds before it goes boom. The enemy team can defuse the bomb, and if they do, they win the match. Extraction places 3 hostages in a certain area. SEALs have 6 minutes to rescue the hostages, and the Terrorists protect the hostages. If a Terrorist kills a hostage, it counts as a rescue for the SEALs. If a SEAL kills a hostage, it cuts down the mission time.

The online interface is very user friendly. I did not have any difficulty navigating between menus or anything like that.

With all the things going on in each game, you may be wondering how you communicate with other players. Well, the headset was included not just for single player, but for online play as well. You do not need to use any commands to communicate, all you do is hold down circle, and speak. This opens up infinite possibilities to set up strategies and tactics. The only problem is, unlike Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, only one person can talk at a time, and you only get 10 seconds to talk each time you press circle. Along with that, you can only talk to your own team. Zipper did this for a reason. It prevents idiots from hogging all the talking time, and you will be able to understand what people are trying to say if one person talks at a time. Finally, you won’t need to argue with the other team during a match. This prevents all the 12 year old kids from screaming “That’s not fair!” to the other team with their high pitched voices.

When you enter the lobby, there are a ton of options to choose from. You can view any news, enter the briefing rooms, check your ranking to see how you stack up against other SOCOM players, change options or start a clan, or accept an invitation.

To join a game, select Briefing Rooms, and select the region where you want to play. From there you can chat in the lobby, view what players are on, join a game or create a game.

When you create a game you have a ton of options to choose from. You can pick what maps and game types you want to play, turn friendly fire on or off, lock the game, and assign your clan members to a specific team. While in the lobby, you also have the option to force launch the game, which means the game will start in 10 seconds whether you are ready or not

If you choose not to host a game, you can join a game. When you enter the lobby, you can chat with the other players in the game, switch teams, or go into the armory and choose what weapons you will use. The weapon selection isn’t as big as it is in the single player game, but there isn’t a “n00b” gun, which is a good thing. Once you have that done, you can return to the lobby and hit ready.

The game itself runs smoothly without any noticeable lag. There are a few times where a player would be lag jumping,, but overall it is goes lag free most of the time. Players’ voices come through the headset, with same hissing noise that it makes in real life. My only complaint with the headset online is that sometimes a player will have it way too close to their mouth so when they talk, it is very loud, and you can not understand a word they just said, or it’s the other way around, where the headset is too far away from their mouth. One more thing worth mentioning. There is no Aim Assist in Multiplayer. You have to do everything yourself. Keyboard/mouse is not supported, except in the lobbies. You wouldn’t want other players to have an advantage over you, just because of the controller they are using.

Another cool feature with the online game is built in Clan support. In nearly every single online PC game, clans are everywhere, especially in Counter-Strike, Unreal Tournament, Quake, etc. Zipper decided to get ahead of the game and include clan support from the beginning. Starting a clan is easy. Just select “clan” from the menu. From there, you get to name it, and invite players to join your clan. You get to send messages to your clan members that they will see on the news/notes screen. You also have the option of naming a new leader, or if things have been going downhill since the beginning, you can disband the clan altogether. Playing in a clan is different from playing in normal servers. In Clans, you know how everyone else plays, so it is easier to get strategies and tactics going.

I do have some complaints about the online mode, though. The biggest problem is that even though the game has been out for almost 7 months now, there are still idiots who think the game is Quake, so they think they will be able to kill everyone by themselves. When you are playing against a team that knows what they are doing, this is quite annoying. This is why there is built in clan support. It filters out the idiots who don’t know how to play the game right.

Another complaint is that in some servers, there is no communication between players at all. Dead air is what I like to call it. When this happens, players might get confused on what they should and should not do. Maybe some people are just afraid to talk to other people. Playing in a clan remedy’s this effect, but it would be great if people actually communicated with each other.

My biggest complaint comes from all the cheaters who use glitches in certain maps that give them an advantage. This is just quite sad that people think they are better than others because they use glitches to give them an advantage. It’s even worse when an entire clan cheats. Another issue is that even though the game clearly states “Broadband only” People that have 56k have found a way to play the game. When this happens, the game lags like crazy, and eventually you will get dropped. Luckily you can vote kick the cheaters and 56k’ers so they won’t be able to join your servers.

Overall, the online aspect of SOCOM is very good. It’s very addicting and anyone who decides to get into the online aspect of the game will have a hard time leaving it.

Final Thoughts
SOCOM is one of the most addicting, entertaining games I have played on any system, in a long time. I just wish they could do something about the cheaters and 56k’ers. 6 months after release, SOCOM still seems fresh and new and anyone interested in team based shooters will have a blast with SOCOM.

Rent or Buy
If you have $59.99 for SOCOM, and another $39.99 for the Network Adaptor, it will be the best $100 you have spent in a long time

Overall score
9.1
Rounded for GameFAQs - 9

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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