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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Zipper Interactive

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

November 2003

 

 

- Excellent single player mode
- Online Play
- USB Headset compatibility
- No cheaters/glitchers online
- Tons of extras
- Superb Audio
- Improved visuals

 

 

- No checkpoint save for single player
- Broadband only
- Headset not included with the game
- Your team mates in the single player game can get in
your way sometimes
- Load times can be lengthy at times

 

 

Review: SOCOM: US Navy SEALs (Playstation 2)

Review: Rainbow Six 3 (Xbox)

Review: Splinter Cell (Playstation 2)

 

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SOCOM II: U.S. NAVY SEALs

Score: 9.3 / 10

 

SOCOM: US NAVY SEALs was one of the most popular shooters last year. It was the most played online game for any console and really kicked open the gates for Sonyís popular network adapter. The game also had a fairly good single player experience. The developers have listened to suggestions and comments and created not just a sequel, but a game that completely overshadows its predecessor.

 

socom-ii-1.jpg (20462 bytes)          socom-ii-2.jpg (17437 bytes)

 

For those who arenít familiar with the game, SOCOM II (S2) puts you in the fatigues of SEAL Special Forces that have to rid the world of terrorism. You play the commander of a four man SEAL team, which executes covert operations throughout the world including Russia, Brazil and Albania. Your SEAL team is made up of two sub-teams, Able (AKA Alpha) and Bravo. Each sub team is made up of two SEALs. Teamwork is essential for both the single player and online play. In the single player mode you can use a USB headset to bark commands (over a hundred) at your squad mates. The headset works extremely well and has a voice recognition rate of about 95%. The game relies heavily on stealth in order to complete your missions successfully. There is both a single player and online mode.

 

The storylines, seemingly ripped from today's headlines, are set up perfectly for each locale. For example in Brazil you are responsible for taking out a Separatist group, which threatens the stability and government in the region (similar to the situation in Columbia).

 

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The most notable addition to the single player mode is the interconnectivity of the missions. Your performance in one mission will dictate the difficulty of another mission. One good example is the terrorist roster. The terrorist groups have a limited number of members. If you eliminate all the snipers during one mission, then you wonít see any snipers during the next mission. This creates a realistic feel and causes the player to be more careful during missions. There is also a 

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lot more vehicle interaction as well. Youíll frequently run into tanks, enemy, and helicopters. There is also a wide range of new weapons in the game. RPGís, AT4ís (rocket launcher), new sniper rifles, shotguns, turrets, etc have been added into the mix. The environments are much different as well. There is a great mix between urban and rural environments in the game.

 

The biggest flaw with the original SOCOMís single player was the horrendous enemy AI. Often the enemies stand still when being shot at or react slowly when they spot you. In S2, enemy AI has received a boost and is as deadly as ever. The enemies look for cover when they are being shot at and use grenades more frequently to flush you out. No need to worry because your teammate AI is just as good, or if not better. Your teammates are reliable and react realistically to the situations they are presented with.

 

There are some noticeable and frustrating flaws with S2's single player mode. First off the missions can be extremely difficult and long. This would lead one to believe that the developers would have implemented a save system, but unfortunately there is no sign of one. There will be instances where you reach the end of the level, but die just before completing it. The load times can also be fairly long.

 

There are five total modes of difficulty, which range from Ensign to Admiral. The single player game is fairly lengthy, but not too long. It took about twelve hours to beat the single player game. There are tons of extras to keep you playing, including behind the scene footage, additional music, new characters, and weapon upgrades. The extras are unlocked by beating the single player campaign on certain difficulty levels.

 

The online play is broadband only and supports up to sixteen players per game (and with 15 to 25K players online, finding a game is never a problem). One team plays the SEALs and one team plays the Terrorists. The game can be played in rounds or with unlimited respawn. There are five types of online modes: team death match, demolition, hostage rescue, breach, and escort. The two new game modes are Breach and Escort. In Breach, the SEAL team must break into the terrorist base and destroy a certain area by placing demolition charges. Escort involves the SEALs safely escorting three hostages to a safe zone before the Terrorists can kill the SEALs or hostages.

 

socom-ii-3.jpg (16215 bytes)         socom-ii-4.jpg (15291 bytes)

 

The online play has been revamped with tons of new features. There are more detailed player and clan rankings. The game now records stats of individual players. Everything from kills to hit percentage. There are also small additions like friends list and block list. A spectator mode has also been included, which supports up to eight players. There is a new rankings system in which players can obtain military ranks based on their performance. The military ranks are assigned to people within a certain percentage of the SOCOM community. For example the first ten percent of ranked players are assigned the rank of Admiral, while the next 10-15% are assigned the rank of Commander. There are also tons of new servers to support the growing online community. In fact, there are servers set aside for specifically ranked players (in effect allowing a more even playing field).

 

The biggest concerns of SOCOM were the amount of cheaters and glitcherís. This time around Sony and Zipper have implemented a new DNAS authentication system, which filters out the cheaters and catches those who are using cheating devices. In fact those caught using cheating devices are subject to a banning. From the extensive time that I spent online I am happy to report that I saw no signs of cheaters or glitchers. There were some moments where the lag was bad, but for the most part the game played smoothly.

 

The graphics have vastly been improved. Everything from the character detail to the environments has at least twice as much detail. The characters in S2 have a new look, as new types of camouflage have been included. The developers have actually blended in multiple camouflages. For example: jungle and desert camouflage. The concept is great as it works extremely well for some levels. The environments are much more detailed as you can see the wear and tear in some levels, with burnt out cars lying on the street or burnt out buildings in a war torn city. Like its predecessor, S2 supports progressive scan mode for HDTVís. With progressive scan mode you get more detail and better looking graphics. One of the most noticeable changes is the amount of foliage. There are many more plants and shrubs to hide behind. There are some new character animations as well. (The most useful and notable addition is the new dive function. By running and hitting the triangle button your character will immediately hit the floor.) The frame rate is much more solid than the original SOCOM and the frame rate during online play remains consistent for the most part. The night vision and thermal vision effects are cool as well.

 

Those with a surround system will surely get the most out of S2. The audio is one of S2 strengths. The voice acting is superb and the music is performed brilliantly. In fact the development got some Hollywood talent to back up their audio department. Michael Clark Duncan (Armageddon, The Green Mile) does one of the voices for you SEAL team mates. The bullet sounds are accurately modelled and sound awesome on a surround sound system. There is also a behind the scenes look at the making of the S2 music.

 

Zipper and Sony over delivered on their sequel as SOCOM II completely overshadows its predecessor in every single way. Those who were fans of the original SOCOM will immediately become addicted to the great game play. Those who arenít familiar with the series should give it a try as S2 is basically the only convincing you need to get a network adapter. S2 stands out as one of this yearís best games.

 

- Siddharth Masand

December 15, 2003

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