The video game industry has seen many revolutionary changes in the last few years. Outstanding graphics, rich sound and a sharp, creative AI are standard amongst the majority of today's titles... no matter the platform. If this is the case, why does SOCOM, once a flagship PS2 title, look to be a few years behind the pack? Still, the SOCOM series has quite the following, with thousands of players from Canada and the US logged in and tearing it up daily.
After placing SOCOM 3 in my PS2 and sitting through the opening animations and a few menus, I promptly stood up and walked over to my entertainment center. Yes, it's a PS2 game. I sat back down, scratching my head. I swore it was a PS1 title from the looks of things. I convinced myself the first few minutes of any game are a bit rough, and I continued to play. It was a bit nostalgic actually, reminiscing about the days before full screen anti-aliasing and decent texture resolutions. The word "jaggies" had nearly been forgotten until now. Soon I began to recall other lost terms, such as "pop-up" and "clipping". The muddy textures did well to disguise the low-poly baddies, so maybe it was a feature and not a flaw.
The single-player campaign is about as neat and clean as it gets. You take command of a US Navy SEAL fireteam, divided into ABLE and BRAVO elements with two men each. Each member of the team has a specialty, be it marksmanship or CQB. I saw no difference in the actions of either of the team members regardless of the equipped weapons. They either refused to follow orders or stood by and did nothing as an enemy soldier walked up and nailed me in the back of the head with his rifle butt. Gameplay is as follows; briefing, deployment, checkpoint hopping with a few "TANGO DOWN!" commands along the way, maybe a surprise twist assignment such as an impromptu rescue or an unforseen obstacle, primary objective, mission complete. I could only force myself to run 3-4 missions, and they were all pretty much the same. Giving orders is a headache with the controller commands as well as the voice commands. My Logitech 350 USB headset may as well have been a cup with a string attached when it came to issuing orders.
Me: "BRAVO TEAM! COVER ME!"
Team: "Sorry Sir, I don't understand your commands."
Me: (Cursing as I got my head ventilated due to the lack of a team spirit on my squads behalf).
This happened a lot, and it seemed my squad would have selective hearing when I needed them the most.
The online portion of the game was a bit more gratifying. After the 30 minutes worth of patching and verifying my ID (which I don't understand why it needed my credit card info if I was not going to be charged), I was in the thick of it. 8 to 14 year olds slung half-hearted and dim-witted insults like 40mm artillery shells. Once in the game I spent a majority of the time apologizing for shooting my team members. It would have been nice if there were some way to tell everyone apart. There's not really much of a difference between the SEAL and Terrorist models. Maybe a different color name tag would've worked. I've played 32+ man shooters before, and I've never had such a hard time picking out who is on my side. I got tired of hearing about my moms sexual endeavors, so I cut my online time short and was only able to try out one of the game modes, Demolition, which plays a lot like Counter Strike with tanks and buggies. After being "PwN'ed" enough times, I gave it a rest.
Overall, SOCOM 3 is no different than the first two releases, except for the disappointing graphic engine, weak AI, multiplayer cap expanding from 16 to 32 players and a coma-inducing single player experience that's barely salvaged by the 12-year old Internet toughguy polluted online mode. If "|=r4661n6 50nn3 n008 81+<h35" is your idea of fun (and if you can read that), you should feel right at home.