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SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs Game

Manufacturer: Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided NewTechReview with a NFR unit of this product for review.
Reviewed by Scott R. Garrigus
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"For decades, SEAL teams have been elite U.S. fighting forces. SEALs are exceptionally well-trained, tactically intelligent students of warfare, masters of hand-to-hand combat, and experts with any weapon from knives to heavy machine guns. Now you are the commanding officer of a four-man SEAL fireteam. You will deploy on missions to neutralize terrorist threats from South America to Russia. Take on explosive urban firefights, breach hardened defenses, rescue non-combatants or capture terrorist assets. The success of each mission will depend on extreme stealth and the lethal teamwork that marks every SEAL operation. Terrorism is a threat to freedom all over the world and the unconventional tactics of U.S. Navy SEALs are needed. This is the time. When they picked a fight, they never planned on fighting these guys." This is the premise behind Sony Computer Entertainmentís new action, military combat game for the PlayStation 2 called SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALS

SOCOM II is actually the new sequel to the original SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALS. The original SOCOM stormed the game community with its excellent gameplay and unique multiplayer features. SOCOM II brings many new enhancements and features to the game including enhanced team member AI, more accurate voice recognition, a wider selection of weapons, 12 new maps for online gameplay, two new multiplayer mission modes, PS2 hard drive support, and tighter game restrictions preventing the prevalent cheating that was found in the original SOCOM.

Gameplay in SOCOM II is similar to the original. You command a four-man seal fireteam in the single-player campaign mode, taking on 12 different missions in locales including Brazil, Russia, Albania, and Algeria. Most of the action in SOCOM II is of the stealth variety. Planning and strategizing your moves and taking out your enemies from a distance are what will keep your team safe and alive. You can issue commands to your team using either a convenient menu or a PS2-compatible headset (sold separately). Using the headset, you can actually speak to your teammates. Issue commands such as Follow, Attack To, Hold Position, Regroup, Fire At Will, Cover Target, Hold Fire, and more. The enhanced team member AI comes into play here with your computerized teammates providing more feedback and more realistic responses. For example, if you issue a command and your teammates don't understand what you said, they'll let you know it. They'll also keep you better informed about their movements, such as having to take certain actions on their own even though they weren't ordered to do so. This makes SOCOM II much more fun to play because the computer characters don't seem so robotic in nature.

SOCOM II really comes alive in multiplayer online mode, and there are even some new features that are only available when playing this way. There are two new multiplayer mission types: Breach and Escort. These are similar to the original Demolition and Extraction missions, respectively, but not exactly the same. During a Breach mission, one team is armed with explosives and must take the base of the other team. But here, the other team is defending its base rather trying to take the original teamís base. During an Escort mission, your team must get a group of civilians to safety, but unlike in an Extraction mission, you already have the civilians in-hand. You do not have to retrieve them first. Player ranks can now be specified during multiplayer games so that you can choose to include only players of a certain rank. This helps to keep the game on a level playing field so that some players with too much skill wonít easily kill off those who are beginners. There are also some nice new weapons available for both single and multiplayer games, such as rocket and grenade launchers, and a new shotgun.

While the original SOCOM was no slouch when it comes to graphics and sound, these elements have actually been improved for SOCOM II. Both the characters and environments have more detail making them appear more realistic. Foliage has been added to the environments and the character animation is noticeably more fluid with movements looking more Ďhumaní than computer-like. And youíll love the way the environments look when sporting the night vision gear. Very cool. The music and sound in SOCOM II is pretty similar to that of the original game, but again, itís very well-done and the voice acting is also excellent. All of these elements combine to make this gaming experience very authentic. If youíve got a Dolby Surround speaker system connected to your PlayStation 2, get set to be immersed in the action.

What it comes down to is that SOCOM II is the best military action game on the PlayStation 2, and maybe even on any of the consoles. The gameplay is very realistic, action-packed, and extremely entertaining in both the single and multiplayer modes. In addition, the game provides many different options for you to attain the best gameplay experience possible. This means that a surround speaker system along with the optional headset will really draw you into the action. These options arenít absolutely needed, but itís nice to have the support available for the gaming fanatics out there like myself. If you own a PlayStation 2, SOCOM II should be part of your game collection.
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