May 21, 2003

Before I purchased SOCOM: U.S. NAVY SEALS I had read reviews from
both sides of the spectrum. The only game that I had played that
was similar to SOCOM was Ghost Recon on the Xbox, which I really
enjoyed playing. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I got the
guts to purchase SOCOM.

The game begins as you are dropped into enemy territory to eliminate
a terrorist compound. You will be leading two teams, Able Element
and Bravo Element. Your two teams are equipped with state of the
art covert weaponry and equipment. Depending on your mission your
teams are set up automatically to default with weather gear and
weapons gear. You are also allowed to customize your team with certain
weapons and gear if you feel comfortable with your skills. Once
you have finally equipped your team accordingly you are now ready
for deployment. Let me warn you ahead of time the combat management
for your team is quite difficult. In order to execute your mission
with a successful score you will need to learn how to follow every
order and give commands. The game scores you on performance of stealth,
time, teamwork, and special or regular objectives accomplished.
Every small detail matters in all your missions. Prior to deploying
you are briefed on your mission and the objectives. You are given
a map to study as well as specific points of attack and special
routes to take in your mission.

The controls in this game are far more complex than other combat
games I have played before. It took me quite a while to get used
to managing of both your teams along with yourself during a mission.
Your regular movements such as running forward and other directions
are executed by using the analogs sticks. Your directional pad is
used for zooming with your weapons, binoculars, night vision and
peeking around corners. While zooming you can also switch from third
person mode to first person mode. All your special actions like
busting out your weapon or cycling through them is done with the
L1 and L2 buttons. Changing body positions such as crouching, proning,
and standing are done by using the triangle button. You can also
customize your controller in the options menu to your personal likings.

The game screen helps you out tremendously during your missions.
The top right of your screen is a mini map spotting your location,
objectives, and danger zones. This mini map took me awhile to understand.
Icons pop up during mission play that give options to pick up a
body and hide it, pilfer a new weapon along with ammo, take someone
out from behind, and many other special moves. On the bottom of

your screen you will have the status of your team and their health.
So you’re asking your self…”What about the freaking headset?”
Well the headset is what SOCOM is known for. Using the headset in
this game makes executing commands a little easier for you. Now
if you don’t want to use your headset during single player mode,
that’s cool. You are still able to execute commands with just your
controller. By pressing the circle button a series of submenus appear
on your screen. First thing you need to do is give orders to someone,
Able or Bravo element. Next is what you need them to do, a series
of actions appear that you can choose. Finally, you will need them
to execute these actions at a certain location. On your map it gives
locations, and those locations are symbolized with letters of the
military alphabet. Your command screen will display the locations,
and once you have chosen your location, your team will move. In
order to use the headset effectively you have to say the correct
commands. You just can’t say something like “Move your ass
soldier and kill those commies!!” That just won’t work. Whatever
commands pop up on your submenus are the ones you have to say clearly.

Allow me to proceed on SOCOM’s AI and graphics. There are times
where the environments are a bit sluggish and some that are really
sharp. The missions in the mountains are sharp and with very little
visibility. Considering the amount of snow that is falling you will
not be able to see very far. Once you start zooming in on distant
objects things become pixilated. Rain forest missions are just real
nasty. The game does really good job dealing with the rain forest
environment. Dense fog, nasty ground and sluggish trees in the graphics
are pretty good. Although I still have a problem with visibility
in this game. The further you look the more pixilated the background

The AI in SOCOM is a little slow at times. Reaction time for your
team after an order has been given sometimes feels like years to
be executed. At times when storming a compound my partner will take
his sweet time pulling the trigger or reloading while I’m getting
shot up from every direction. Another example is when I am diffusing
a bomb, my partners will just sit there and switch weapons while
letting me get lit up with bullets. Many times have I given orders
to follow my lead, when I turn around they are still in the same
place where I started. Many times my teammate will block the only
exit out of a building while ten guys are blasting away at us. I
believe the AI in SOCOM is what effects the games overall performance.
Its many flaws in the AI category keep the smoothness of the action
from flowing.

SOCOM carries a well-detailed sound environment. Many of the different
missions are accentuated by the natural sounds that it provides.
You hear many sounds like your feet dragging through the snow, and

the mosquitoes and wildlife in the rain forest. The little details
that the sound provides in each mission give this game a real good
sense of reality.

Overall SOCOM is a great realistic military shooter. It has the
feel of Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon where stealth is a major factor.
If you don’t use stealth, you and your team will get slaughtered.
Using the headset for command execution brings an all-new flavor
to the military shooter genre. The levels are intense and elaborate
with something different to accomplish every time. SOCOM also has
a multiplayer mode only when using the network adapter for online
use. I personally have no desire to play this game online, the only
reason I bought this game was for the single player mode. If you
like games such as Ghost Recon and the such, then I suggest giving
SOCOM a try.