SOCOM 3: US Navy SEALs ReviewSOCOM 3 is a lot like the third Terminator and Mission Impossible films. That is, it serves to show there’s still life left in the franchise without it doing anything remotely new or innovative. And like the aforementioned films, SOCOM 3: US Navy Seals is a lot of fun. It’s just not much of a step over the previous games.
What it is however is exactly what you expect straight out of the box.
If you’re looking for a decent story in your tactical shooters you might need to re-examine that affection with SOCOM 3. It has a story and there’s quite a bit of effort gone into telling it through some rather intriguing and lengthy cutscenes. But really, all you need to know is that it’s set in North Africa and there’s a rebel army to take down. Oh, and an evil dictator chap.
You command a three-man fire team that is split between Bravo and Able. The game is set over a dozen or so huge levels that give even games like the 360’s GRAW a run for it money in scope (although to be fair, I'd take Mexico city over the almost dystopian North African locations any day) via foot, or land and water-based vehicles. You can play it online and off and also make use of the headset to lead your fire team rather amiably.
Like I said - exactly what you expect straight out of the box. But is it any good?
Yes, we understand that’s marine terminology but humour us. SOCOM 3 is generally a lot of fun to play. The perfect word to throw at it is amiable, because although it’s unfair to compare it to a next-gen game like Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, that kind of game serves to underline some of SOCOM 3’s main problems.
GRAW presents one of the most streamlined conflicts in recent memory. There’s nothing really intuitive about its design, it’s just really well implemented and easy to operate. SOCOM 3 by contrast is extremely clunky. By holding down the circle button you can issue direct orders by selecting them and your fire team will – most of the time – carry them out.
The problem? There’s shed-loads of options in there. In fact, the number of options available to you is rather scary at first and some of these options even have a sub menu (such as the Breach ability). Sure, it ceases to be a problem when you finally acclimate to the rhythm of SOCOM 3. But GRAW gave us many of the same actions with far less menu scrawling.
SOCOM 3: Modern Combat
What’s worse is the AI of both your enemy and fire team. GRAW had its share of asinine displays from both sides but never to this extent. One of SOCOM 3’s unintentionally funny situations came from one of my fire team proclaiming aloud “Hell! These fools can’t even shoot straight!” It would have been less amusing were it not for the fact he was standing at point blank range, on open ground, shooting at the man he was openly mocking. And missing.
I half expected him to take off his mask and reveal it all to be an elaborate Police Squad sketch. No such luck.
Other areas where the game annoys is in its vehicular sections. You have full control of where you sit in any vehicle you drive. But navigating the seats is no easy thing. Take the gun mounted Humvee: there’s a turret and your guys automatically assign the gunner role to themselves when you’re driving. But you’ll be hard pressed to ever find them shooting someone.
This makes the second level a chore to begin with. You start in a Humvee with a second team in another and are assaulted by several militia types. It becomes an annoying trend of driving close to the enemy and hitting the D-Pad button to assign yourself to the turret before taking them out and returning to drive.
And while we’re on the topic of annoyances a clear indicator of where your team is moving to would have been nice. By looking at a specific area and hitting L2 you can order your team to move there. But there is no clear indication point of where they’re moving to and strangely, you can’t move them via the menu map either.
So why a 7? Because like I said at the start – SOCOM 3 doesn’t innovate in any way at all, but it does entertain. And despite its contrivances and above problems it’s hard not to enjoy this more simplistic tactical shooter. The world may be falling over GRAW and SWAT3 and the like, but Zipper Interactive has given us a nice little send off with SOCOM 3.
But let’s start thinking of the next generation, OK guys?