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Platform

PSP

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Zipper Interactive

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2005

 

 

- Faithfully adapts the SOCOM experience to the PSP

 

 

- Lack of “save-anywhere” feature dampens portability

- Outdoor area graphics are some of the worst on the PSP

 

 

Review: SOCOM II (PS2)

Review: SOCOM III (PS2)

Review: Twisted Metal: Head-On (PSP)

 

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SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo

Score: 7.5 /10

 

SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo for the PSP takes all of the action of Sony's second biggest first-party series and shrinks it down to portable size.  In doing so, the developer did a good job of mimicking the tone and style of the console originals, but clearly some concession had to be made for the conversion.   Luckily, most of those changes are cosmetic and don't take much away from the experience.

 

socom fireteam bravo          socom fireteam bravo

 

The biggest non-cosmetic change that regular SOCOM players will notice is that the “team” in Fireteam Bravo is actually only a partnership.  Like the full-size team in SOCOMs 1 and 2, the teammate here can be given a variety of instructions by the player, though not, sadly, simply by voice command, one of my favorite aspects of the original game. (The online game does feature headset support, but I was not able to review this feature because the headset was not available in my area at the time of review).  This means that through a series of simple button presses the player can have his teammate storm and take a room, disable a bomb, provide cover fire, and various other tasks.  This mimics the original SOCOM well, and the experience is pretty unique in a handheld game.

 

The character control is similar to SOCOM, though everything had to be moved around to accommodate the lack of a second analog stick.  It is still relatively easy to pull off head shots or to bum rush a room of enemy soldiers with guns blazing.  I'd estimate that there is about a one hour learning curve associated with getting comfortable with the controls.  After a few levels, everything felt pretty natural, though I have heard from players who feel that too many functions are mapped to single buttons.

 

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The mission structure is also pretty true to the originals.  Players are faced with large missions that are divided into series of objectives (infiltrate a base, destroy a communications setup, eliminate all enemy soldiers, etc).  The levels also have non-vital extra objectives that help a player earn top ranking, (such as complete the level without being seen by a civilian).  The levels are challenging, but not too hard, though the fact that there are no 

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mid-level saves means that a player really has to focus on completing the level the first time.  It is really annoying to get killed near the end of a level and have to start over from the beginning.  In fact, it is more than annoying considering that Fireteam Bravo is on a portable system.  The lack of a save anytime feature really cripples the game's “gaming on the go” functionality.

 

socom fireteam bravo          socom fireteam bravo

 

Graphically, the game is a bit of a letdown.  The character models are pretty good.  The main character models are actually very impressive, but the level graphics, especially outdoors, are awful.  The world is sparsely detailed (hardly detailed really) and what is there is flat and pixelated.  The indoor areas fair a bit better, but the textures there are still grainy and unrealistic.  This is certainly not the game to use to show off a shiny new PSP to friends (well, if they are graphics whores, that is).  Still, the game does feature some decent use of particle effects and shadowing, and the graphic issues never become game play issues, so the area graphics aren't deal-breakers for me.

 

I had a very good time with Fireteam Bravo.  It probably won't remain in rotation simply because playing it requires too much of a time footprint to make it a great portable game.  As a portable port of a great console game, however, it is a solid first effort.

 

- Danny Webb

(January 16, 2006)

 

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