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SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Zipper Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals, an introduction.

For the most part online gaming hasn't been a success on the PlayStation 2. With the seemingly countless games we've been online with, there has simply been no one to play against. There is one exception to this however. SOCOM: US Navy Seals has been a resounding success from the moment it was launched. In fact no other PlayStation 2 game comes anywhere near to being as popular as the original SOCOM and its sequel. It probably goes without saying then that the third title in the series, the imaginatively titled SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals, has been highly anticipated.

What's the game about?

SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals, like its prequels, is modern day warfare based FPS. The games single-player campaign focuses on three areas of operation, North Africa, Southern Asia and Eastern Europe. Once again you'll control a team of four Navy Seals through a variety of missions. The main focus of the series has never been the single-player campaign though and once again the game is fully focused on the multiplayer side of things with support for LAN and online play.

What's good about the game?

The real strength of the SOCOM series has been its online play and SOCOM 3 only serves to make the online experience a better one. The game now offers support for up to 32 players, which is twice the number of players you could have in previous versions, which for a PlayStation 2 game (in fact for any console game) is hugely impressive. Land and water vehicles in the game can now be driven allowing you to cross large expanses, which are necessary as the maps in SOCOM 3 are huge. In fact they are between five and six time as large as any maps found in previous SOCOM games which is impressive. Weapons now have a variety of attachments (the 31 weapons in the game have around 20 different attachments) which adds a little spice to the game-play. You can now swim and temporarily hold your breath underwater to enable a more stealthy approach to your enemies and it works really well. Mid-mission saves have also been added meaning you won't lose all of your progress should you be killed during a mission (providing you've reached a save point of course). On the online side of things, there are 12 maps to play on and two new game modes, Control Point and Convoy. Up to four people can watch an online battle now with the Spectator mode. The online side of the game is definitely where it shines but thanks to almost everyone using voice chat, it's not that accommodating for deaf gamers.  

What's not so good about the game?

The biggest disappointment with SOCOM 3 is the AI. The game has five difficulty levels ranging from Ensign to Admiral but regardless of the level you play on you'll notice your AI enemies just seem plain dopey at times. Yes they make use of cover but they aren't as effective at it as they should be. Your comrades could definitely be more intelligent too and don't always appear to want to help you out, even when instructed to. When driving a vehicle and being attacked by the enemy you'll notice your AI comrade, who is manning the turret, take an absolute age to respond to being under fire. These AI problems really make the single-player game less interesting than it should be, which is a shame given that the online games seem to be heavily dependent on voice communications.

How does it look?

For the most part SOCOM 3 looks good. Character and vehicle models are pretty good although they aren't anything you won't have seen many times before on the PlayStation 2. What is impressive are the animations you'll see when you hit your enemies. You'll see them stagger and fall in a pretty realistic fashion, which makes a nice change. Frame rate dips are noticeable when driving vehicles, although it's never anything major. Most of the objects you'll find in the game such as trees and buildings etc. look OK but when you compare them to titles such as Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, they do look dated but you have to balance this with the size of the maps in SOCOM 3 and had the graphical details been significantly better it's a fair bet the frame rate would have been disastrous. On the whole the game looks good enough.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

SOCOM 3 is a real mixed bag for deaf gamers and this is quite disappointing. Hearing gamers will be able to issue instructions to their team-mates through speech. Deaf gamers won't be able to make use of this feature but at least you can still issue orders through button presses. Mission briefings, overview briefings, mission details and mission debriefings are all in text. On the mission briefing screen there are messages from the Global News Service and these are speech only so deaf gamers will be unaware of them. Most of the speech during missions isn't subtitled, so you'll be completely unaware of what's being said to you. In the games option menus there is no mention of subtitles although if you bring up the pause menu (by pressing the start button) when you're in a mission you will see an option for subtitles and be default they are enabled. However, it's only the non-English dialogue that seems to be subtitled. Pressing the select button allows you to recall your objectives in text, which is useful but on the whole the game has patchy support for deaf gamers and when you factor in the voice communications during online games, you have a game that can cause deaf gamers quite a few problems.

Final thoughts.

Whilst SOCOM 3 is just as enjoyable as the previous two games in the series, in some ways more so, you can't help but feel a tinge of disappointment that some aspects of the game haven't been done better. It's not the most accommodating game for deaf gamers and there's far too much speech that isn't subtitled. The AI is guilty of being a bit half-soaked at times and this does take the shine off the single-player game. Online is quite tricky for deaf gamers because of the voice communications that everyone seems to use. Essentially if you were a fan of the previous SOCOM games you're going to enjoy SOCOM 3 but if you're new to the series and are mainly thinking of playing the game offline it may be worth renting first.

Overall Game Rating: 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals, whilst impressive in its support for 32 players online, is let down by poor AI and poor support for deaf gamers.