Socom is one of the series Sony has used to drive the online community for the PlayStation 2 and PSP. Now Socom U.S. Navy Seals: Fire Team Bravo 2 sees the Socom series return to PlayStation Portable in fine form with stunning visuals - for the PSP at least - a solid single player campaign, and online multiplayer support.
Players take the role of Sandman, and play through a series of missions, the first being to locate and recover a downed helicopter. Acting as a tutorial, it works well to acquaint you with the complex control scheme needed to bring Socom to the PSP - due to the handheld’s lack of a second analogue stick - and brings you straight into the action, albeit against some relatively easy enemies.
As expected from a portable version of a series, which is usually played on a console with a more complex controller, controls have been changed to suit the PSP controls. The analogue stick handles movement and aiming (while in sniper mode) and inventory and targeting controls are assigned to buttons. This format works well as you can lock on to anyone with the right shoulder button and circle strafe with the analogue stick. Using med kits and switching guns is as easy as holding down left on the d-pad and pushing the associated button. However, sniper shots are difficult due to the sensitivity of the analogue stick and Sandman's hands moving around.
There is no shortage of gadgets and weapons to play with; you can plant C4 to take out enemy supply crates, throw a grenade in to clear a room before charging in to clean out the survivors, and wield a number of military guns including AK-47s. If all else fails, you can order an Air Strike. These toys come at a price though, as you need to build up your Command Equity (earned by completing missions) to be able to carry the more advanced weapons.
Missions are selectable from the Operations Map, with multiple areas selectable after the first mission. The objectives follow the usual clichés of capture a terrorist, disable bombs, or shoot everything in sight. Mission environments are diverse enough to avoid repetition, too. Some will have you running around urban areas, while others have you running around the mountains. In keeping with the realism the Socom series has always pushed, you have to take out unarmed people without blowing their head off, easily done by pushing the Square button next to them.
After playing through the single player campaigns, players will want to get into the online battles. This should have been easy given the PSP has wifi support built in. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there were no servers to play on.
All up Socom U.S. Navy Seals: Fire Team Bravo 2 is a fun tactical shooter; it'll appeal to fans of the series and may be worth a look for anyone in need of a good third-person shooter on their PSP.