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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 

 


      

 

 

 

Sonyís much-anticipated broadband initiative is set to kick off next month as the PS2ís long awaited Network Adaptor, Broadband Modem and USB Headset are released. Launching alongside this peripheral is SCEAís military stealth game SOCOM: US Navy Seals. This is set to be the Sonyís premier title for the online launch. Featuring co-operative gameplay and utilizing the new headset, the title puts you in the role of a squadron commander on dangerous missions. The Laser takes a look at a preview build of this highly anticipated title and finds out if this title is hot enough to make you want to spring for these new devices.

Set in the not-too-distant future and based on real-world tactics and strategies, SOCOM: US Navy Seals offers several modes of play and a bevy of features designed to fully exploit the capabilities of Sonyís new broadband network adaptor and headset. With a long period in development, and at least a yearís delay, followed by extensive hype the title is finally getting an initial push in the press with demos and new information being released. The Laser received a one-level, single player demo of the title and has an impression to share with all of our readers. Please be advised that this is based on a demo, and the quality of the complete game may not coincide with this.

Taking place in a desolate, isolated corner of Alaska , SOCOM puts you in the role of an elite team.  The short mission weíve played was well-designed and intricate and seemed a bit more involved than the usual console title, allowing for plenty of gameplay naunce. This wonít immediately grab you but will likely win you over in time. It seems to be paced more like such PC titles as Rainbow Six than anything else, though this isnít necessarily a bad thing. The controls were adequate but the PS2ís controllers arenít the ideal interface. The actual gameplay was excellent at immersing the player into the action, and set up a good atmosphere which created plenty of tension, giving the player a good sense of the danger of a real world mission. You are in command of a team of Seals and your main mission is to penetrate an enemyís clandestine base without being detected, which is pretty straightforward. SOCOM allows you to control the actions of the other soldiers in your group by commanding them to do certain tasks, which in the demo mission included mainly making them move in different directions to create a perimeter of attack around the lone soldiers stationed as guards. The key was to take them out without alerting the other forces on the base, then to capture a terrorist leader without getting your party killed. SOCOMís most-difficult task was in the evaluation of the terrain around you and the positioning of the soldiers so they wouldnít get killed. The mission wasnít overly difficult and this was probably to allow for a decent taste of the atmosphere that SOCOM will provide.

This looks to be a promising title, though there are many additional features that should make the full game more exciting. For starters, SOCOM will have 30 unique missions in all with both single and multiplayer missions included. SOCOMís environments will be quite impressive judging by the high-quality look and feel of the demo missions. This is an excellent looking title at this point, and if the rest of the game has the polish that the demo had, then PS2 owners are in for quite an intense ride. In all, the game will progress through 4 unique terrains, including Alaska , the Congo , Thailand and Turkmenistan , which should give the game play plenty of variety. There will be a variety of different mission structures in SOCOM such as hostage rescues, reconnaissance, search and rescue, night vision missions, clearing out buildings of terrorists, and more. There will be multiple objectives as well as supplementary tasks in each mission as well, so donít expect to blow through the levels. SOCOM should offer a realistic experience throughout as itís tactics and strategies were taken from actual combat situations. Additionally, the levels have been designed to allow for plenty of tactical combat and strategic operations with many ideal areas set up for sniper perches and spying. Players will also have a realistic arsenal of state-of-the-art weapons to choose from including handguns, sniper rifles and grenades.

The gameís AI is looking quite impressive as well, since the AI opponents are going to look for your weaknesses and find ways to exploit them. Players will also have to deal with factors such as fatigue, terrain conditions and the difficulty of the opponents when playing, which should lead to some pretty intense and authentic gameplay situations. To add to the atmosphere, there will some impressively forward-thinking features included in the game. For example, once connected to broadband, players will be able to talk to other players using the USB Headset will also have the ability to issue voice commands to other players which should further the immersion. While players will have to spring for the Network Adaptor and the Broadband connection itself, SCEA is including the USB Headset free with the game, which should tempt players. The title itself sounds very impressive on paper, with an impressive feature list. The only problem with our brief outing in SOCOM is that it left us wanting to see more of the gameís touted features, since the demo cuts off just as you begin to get the hang of things. Worse, it doesnít support the touted features. However, you have to keep in mind, this is just a teaser and without the multiplayer and online components, itís hard to judge what the end-result will actually be. SOCOM shows a lot of potential, and if SOCOMís final implementation is as good as the demo seems to suggest, then Sony has another major PS2 hit on its hands.