For those out there who are still skeptical about taking their PlayStation 2 online, its time to get your head out of your ass. The reason: Sony’s stealth-action title “SOCOM: Navy SEALs” will blow you out of the water.
At the heart of “SOCOM” is its online multiplayer mode, where up to 16 players (eight per team) can participate in team-based tactical fighting. Here a group of Navy SEALs are paired against a group of terrorists in levels designed for unbelievable cat-and-mouse tactics. Additionally, online gamers are given the choice of three game settings: suppression (where one team must kill off all opposing forces), demolition (a capture-the-flag inspired mode in which gamers must grab a bomb and place it in the opposing team’s base) and hostage rescue (where SEALs try to save hostages, while terrorists try to stop them). Unlike other multiplayer games, where various settings and levels are either hit or miss, each of these modes combined with different levels will result in sleepless nights. Nobody said being a Navy SEAL would be easy.
To make things even more addictive, Sony has packaged in a Logitech-designed USB headset for communicating with team members. Similar to using a walkie talkie, gamers simply need to hold down the circle button on their Dual Shock to relay messages to team members. This comes in handy, as gamers can form intense game plans on how to thwart their opponent.
The only downside to the network play of “SOCOM” is that the game requires a broadband connection and Sony’s $40 network adapter. But like a junkie in need of his crack fix, money no longer is a factor once you have played “SOCOM.” Like a resourceful SEAL, gamers will have to make sacrifices, such as limiting Taco Bell rations or becoming friends with dorm-dwelling freshmen.
For those not ready to go broadband, “SOCOM” does offer a challenging, yet enjoyable one-player experience. With 16 unique stages that range from swampy jungles to blinding snow levels, gamers will rarely find the experience to be anything but amazing. Lacking the assistance of human-controlled teammates found in the multiplayer mode, gamers now take the lead of each stealth mission with the help of three computer-controlled teammates. Like the multiplayer mode, communication with teammates is necessary. With the decisions of these AI-based SEALs varying from brilliant to retarded, gamers will either need to memorize a slew of voice commands (highly recommended) or use button commands to keep them from blowing your cover. Gamers will find mastering the voice commands will not only make them better at the multiplayer mode, but also give them the feeling of being at the head of a real military squad.
Complementing one of the best gameplay experiences on the PlayStation 2, “SOCOM” boasts outstanding visual and audio effects. Combining intense Dolby Pro Logic II sound with progressive-scan video for digital TVs (previously only seen with GameCube and Xbox games), “SOCOM” is a treat for the eyes and ears.