Have gun-porn, will travel.
Wow, just listen to all the stuff going on in that one name: SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3. No wonder those guys have to be in shape; you need a heavy-duty bandolier just to schlep around all the acronyms, initials, and codenames.
[image1]As much as we've enjoyed them, the games in the SOCOM franchise have never exactly made it easy on us here at the Revolution: At one crazy event in SoCal some years back, the actual, real-deal SEALs yelled at us, threw us into a huge, darkened, mocked-up, live-(pellet-)fire zone, and had people start shooting at us from moving cars. Within two hours, Yours Truly had fallen and cracked his head a good one in the dark, Duke had gone all 'friendly'-fire on some of our own guys, and the difficulty of the game-build they had waiting for us afterwards was the cause of some bellowed language that had no place in a 'professional journalistic atmosphere'. Thankfully, the recent multiplayer session we had with the designers of Fireteam Bravo 3 went a little better for the home team... and a lot worse for the enemy.
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 is the third PSP outing in the series, obviously... and even for a SOCOM title, it promises a truly impressive range of loadout modifications. The game offers some 70+ base weapons, with up to four slots for the seemingly endless modding and tweaking that fans of the series have come to love.
Even before your chosen mission starts, it's easy—and tempting, and perhaps a little 'telling', too—to sit there for half an hour, fiddling with every imaginable minute, subtle (or, in many cases, not-so-subtle) change to your armament: Heavy weapons or a more portable loadout? Flash-bangs, concussives, or incendiaries? Are you completely comfortable with the minor added encumbrance that slung-under grenade launcher is going to saddle you with? What are your thoughts on scopes? For that matter, should anybody on your team even trust you with a sniper rifle in the first place? Does that background, ever-growing growl have anything to do with your fellow gamers waiting with increasing impatience for you to get your oh-so-prepared ass into the game, already?
This time out, players take the role of Wraith, leading a SEAL team—including members Sandman, Raven, and Toro—on a scary-touchy covert op. The mission is to hunt down and interrogate an ex-KGB agent believed to have sensitive intel on a pending (and ominously-vague) WMD attack on Western interests. The game doesn't waste much time with narrative and setup—but what we have seen so far, in terms of cinematics and voice-work, is convincing and straight-faced enough (it's the same mocap tech that was used for James Cameron's Avatar, after all; talk about a handheld game Going Big).
[image2]Fireteam Bravo 3 will offer 16-player multiplay (ad-hoc and online), 5 versus modes, and 8 maps. And yes, gamers can play with their friends in the new 4-player co-op through the 9 missions of the campaign game. The missions are themselves divided into chapters with fairly generous save-points; it's just good sense for portable gaming. Online play will also support ribbons, medals, and leaderboards.
Since any game played on the PSP/PSPGo is limited a single analog stick, there is a compensating auto-lock targeting scheme. It does take some getting used to, but it quickly became instinctive for me (and all things being equal, using shotguns in close quarters never hurts; well, it hurts... but you follow me). The effectiveness of the auto-target depends on a number of factors, including the base weapon in question, any slot modifications you may have chosen, and whether you are popping up from behind cover.
Between the missions, gear combinations, unlockable weapons, and varying difficulty levels, Fireteam Bravo 3 promises a wealth of customization for gun-tweaking SOCOM fans. Check back for our full review when the game mobilizes later this month.