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SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals Fireteam Bravo 2 Member Review for the PSP

GENRE Action 
DEVELOPER Zipper Interactive 
T Contains Drug Reference, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Socom Fireteam Bravo 2

This game is so awesome you can make some of the biggest explosions you have ever seen in your life. Also you can fight some of the tuffest bad guys and mercenaries ever. I personally like this game because you can crosstalk it with Socom: Combined Assault to unlock new weapons, multiplayer weapons and skins, and new multiplayer arenas. I also like how the story of these two games come together to make one of the best games ever. I also like being able to change to a two man team for the whole game. I f you like sneaking around and shooting and blowing things up then you need this game if you don`t have it. Also lot`s and lot`s of weapons and gadgets to choose from. Which leads to one explosive game!!!

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One of Sony's most important franchises under its wing is SOCOM. The series has helped launch and push the Networking Adapter and USB headset support on the PlayStation 2, as well as headset and voice support on the PSP. Not only is it a platform for pushing new hardware, but its online functionality has been essentially second to none on Sony's platforms.

Coinciding with the release of SOCOM 3 last year we saw the series' first foray onto the PSP with SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo. The game worked as an aside of sorts to SOCOM 3, where Fireteam Bravo went on secondary objectives that tied into Alpha team's work. And now, along with the release of SOCOM: Combined Assault on the PlayStation 2, we have the follow-up to FTB with SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2.

Last year we saw the introduction of Crosstalk, a feature that allowed you to trade saved content between SOCOM 3 and Fireteam Bravo. Completing mission objectives in one game would have an impact on the other, like unlocking content or providing additional information in the other game. Crosstalk has been vastly improved in Combined Assault and Fireteam Bravo 2, directly affecting what you'll find in missions now. Taking out troops in one game will result in them already being dead in the other, or blowing up a site will have it already destroyed when you switch games. It's a very cool system that works quite well now, though we still wish it was a little more clear in the timeline of things, or at least when to switch between games in case you wanted to play them simultaneously.

Part of the reason that Crosstalk has a great deal more impact on in-game events is that Fireteam Bravo 2's storyline is closer and more tightly knit to Combined Assault's. While each team has separate objectives to take care of, they almost cross paths a number of times in the two games. On occasion you might even see the other team going about their business, even if you can't directly interact with them. It's cool stuff and we hope it lays the groundwork for what we'll see going into the next-generation, where this sort cross-connectivity should be more commonplace.

Speaking of the storyline, Fireteam Bravo 2 features a somewhat non-linear progression. The main story features a series of key missions, with branching missions connecting them. These branching missions can be done in any order, and at any time you can go back to a previously finished mission to earn more Local Influence and Command Equity, which we'll get to in a second. You'll need to finish all of the branching missions in order to progress the story, so you can't really skip anything, but it does allow you to come back to missions that are a little too tough for your skills at any one moment, or stock up credits for help.

Local Influence and Command Equity help to encourage "correct" play, whereby you restrain villagers, use non-lethal force and so forth. Local Influence is gained via getting villagers to safety and results in the ability to buy black market weapons, increased mission intelligence and so forth. Command Equity is earned by completing mission objectives and capturing enemies and allows you to unlock advanced weapons in the armory, buy air strikes or supply drops and the like.
The setup and surrounding elements to the missions are mostly cool, though there hasn't been a whole lot done to give your team much personality or keep you from feeling a little disconnected to the storyline. You're still running what can seem like random missions, something that not many tactical or even war games have overcome. Though you still only have one team mate at any one time, you do have the ability to choose who you take on missions, with each member have unique strengths and weaknesses. That works pretty well to personalize the play experience a bit.

One thing that is a bit curious is that you can no longer see stats for weapons on the equipment screen, either in single-player or multiplayer. There are short descriptions for each weapon that'll quickly point out its strengths and weaknesses, like whether a weapon is geared for long or short range, how accurate it is and so forth, but numbers folks will have to hit up FAQs after release for hard numbers.

Fireteam Bravo 2's single-player missions have a number of hits and misses. On the good side, the environments look very good and the game does a great job of portraying the fictional country of Adjikistan, a third-world country set around the Pakistan/Afghanistan region. Its size has allowed Zipper to throw in climate regions from desert to snowy lands, and all of these look great.

The misses come in the structural layout and some of the mission flags. While there are sometimes multiple routes you can take, there are oftentimes very linear paths that you must navigate to get from area to area, especially in and around buildings. This takes away from the tactical feeling a bit as you feel strung along a predefined path rather than having been given numerous options on how to progress. This is worst when you have to back-track, which we had to do on more than one occasion just to fulfill mission objectives, like clearing an area of every soldier (someone would inevitably hide in a bush and we'd have to go back to find him). In these cases, you need to not only back-track but cover your tracks again as you head back to the extraction point.

As far as online is concerned, and this really is where SOCOM always shines, Fireteam Bravo 2 one-ups its processor in many ways. The new maps are generally quite good, offering up a nice mix of wide-open areas that encase closed and guarded spaces. The three new multiplayer modes, Tug-of-War, Capture the Flag and Target are all great fun, and work well in the old and new maps.

The aiming mechanic has been altered a tad bit since the last game. Zipper realized that some players would take advantage of the lock-on mechanic by constantly tapping the R button to find players hidden in bushes and such. In Fireteam Bravo 2, you'll slow down a tad when you press R, theoretically giving you an incentive to use it sparingly. In practice though, you really don't slow down all that much, and if you just slow your tapping a tad bit it doesn't have much of a noticeable affect on your movement speed.
Network performance seems to be decent, though it wasn't perfect in our time with the game. During one session, the server dropped what seemed to be all of the players from the match a couple times. During the same session, lag was a bit of an issue and adversely affected our ability to fire accurately. While movement seemed to be perfectly fine, including not only ours but everyone else's, we ran into a number of gunfights where we'd be at a standoff and unload three or four clips until either ourselves or our enemy would drop dead. It was pretty ridiculous. After a bit of testing though, we're confident this was a direct result of lag, and hopping onto a quick server fixed this right up.

One aspect of the targeting mechanic that we have a problem with, both in multiplayer and single-player, is that weapons now have different ranges for lock-on. Long-range rifles can lock on from far away, but shotguns will only work up close, for example. This becomes frustrating because in many cases you'll be unable to even shoot near an enemy from a distance unless you switch to the freelook mode. Weapon accuracy already degrades over distance, so it's annoying that you need to cope with both that and the inability to target from a distance.

Closing Comments
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2 is a fine follow-up to last year's original PSP release. It isn't perfect, what with sometimes linear level layouts and a somewhat aggravating lock-on distance, but it's still very good fun. Like last year, it's a bit of a different experience than the console games, but it's also tied into Combined Assault very well. SOCOM fans won't be disappointed.

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