Developer: Slant Six Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Console Played On: PlayStation Portable
Release Date: February 16th 2010
Age Rating: PEGI 16, ESRB Teen
Despite being a mouthful of a name to say, SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 is a very enjoyable semi tactical shooter. Think of it as the Taken or Die Hard of the tactical shooting world, it’s not the most intelligent of games but what it lacks in originality it more than makes up with entertaining gung ho action.
You play Wraith, a SEAL squad leader, who has been sent on a black-ops mission alongside a team of crack soldiers. The story revolves around the matter of an US rogue agent who has gone missing in a fictional Soviet state. You have to find them. Simply put, the story really doesn’t matter. Much like an action film, all you need to know is that there are enemies that need shooting and the odd piece of storyline that you will inevitably forget within minutes. Intelligence is certainly not required here and there’s no sign of any surprise plot twists.
Playing the game initially felt a little awkward. Movement is conducted via the analogue nub but noticeably there’s no way of looking up or down making aiming feel a little restrictive. Players are restricted to using the lock on targeting system, holding down the right trigger targets an enemy while a tap of the left trigger switches targets. It didn’t take long to adjust to the inability to move the camera but it did feel counter-intuitive to begin with. Fortunately the controls which manage tactical choices are much more effective. Holding down Circle brings up the command menu with various context sensitive options such as ‘fire at will’, ‘cover’ or more stealthier commands. There’s a wide array of options on offer which ensure that you have plenty of different ways of approaching each mission.
There is one downside to proceedings though: the friendly AI is a little too good at its job. The rest of your team is extremely self sufficient and frequently there wasn’t really a need to order teammates around, even on higher levels of difficulty. It’s still immensely satisfying taking out a group of enemies after breaching a building and throwing in a flash bang, but sometimes it does feel a little too easy.
With nine missions on offer with a variety of main and secondary objectives, there is plenty to do at least. As you progress through missions, points are given out which can be used to unlock multiplayer costume parts, new weapons and weapon add-ons. The wealth of weaponry options is particularly impressive with many, many different guns to use. More points are acquired depending on the difficulty level set so it’s worth adjusting your difficulty level in accordance to the limited challenge on offer here.
On offer is also the custom missions mode which allows players to set the number of enemies in each mission as well as the type of mission that will be undertaken. Most crucially it also allows players to go up against the enemy alone, without the friendly AI backing you up. This makes for a much stronger challenge and should sate the appetite of more ‘hardcore’ gamers.
Besides the single player modes, there’s also the option to play through the game in co-operative mode as well as competitive multiplayer options. It’s always fun to play games alongside others so co-operative mode is a good laugh providing you can find someone else to play SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 with. I noticed that the community wasn’t exactly thriving so it’s worthwhile encouraging friends to pick the game up if you want a solidly enjoyable time. It was excellent to see no sign of lag also, even when playing 4 player co-operative.
It’s a great touch to be able to play alongside three other people but it does make the game even easier than beforehand which is a shame. Competitive multiplayer offers a similar lag free experience and is immense fun with an array of typically seen multiplayer options. Currently its community seems to be thriving reasonably well, providing you don’t mind occasionally having to join an US based game where the community appears to be more active at the moment. As the game is new though I do question just how long it will be until the multiplayer popularity all but vanishes, at least the single player functionality is there to keep things interesting.
Final Thoughts: There’s a lot to like in SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3. It’s not a game that will reside in your memory for years to come but as an entertaining, almost tactical shooter it’s good fun. It’s a shame that the game is a little too easy at times but providing you don’t expect a great challenge, it’s a fantastic little romp. The co-operative mode is particularly inspired assuming you have friends to play alongside and the multiplayer is currently great and impressively comprehensive for a PSP game.
Gameplay – 7: A little too easy but still enjoyable. Plenty of missions and objectives to complete, plenty of guns to get your hands on and good, solid ‘switch your brain off’ fun.
Graphics – 7: It would have been nice to have seen more detail but the environments were very sound on the small screen. The cut scenes are also of a decent standard.
Sound – 7: Great voiceover work. Everything else is functional rather than memorable.
Overall – 7: SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 is excellent fun, even if it is a little too easy. It might be no classic but it doesn’t stop players having plenty of fun here, even more so if they can play alongside friends which is terrific fun. Well worth a look for those after something a little mindless but entertaining.