SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs Review

The original SOCOM game was one of the first games to come with full support for Sony's Network Adaptor. SOCOM was a big hit thanks to some great multiplayer gameplay and did its part to sell quite a few of Network Adaptors. Such successes almost always beget sequels and a year later we SOCOM II: US Navy SEALs. These days PS2 owners fall into one of two groups, those with Network Adaptors and those without. If you own a Network Adaptor, you're probably wondering if SOCOM II can match its predecessor for online excitement. If you don't, then your main concern will be whether the single player campaign is strong enough on its own to warrant purchase of the game. In either case SOCOM II has you covered because it delivers great gameplay on both counts.

Man vs. tank.

First let’s take a look at the game's single player campaign. Like the original, the game's twelve missions are set in hotspots around the world that include operations in Russia, Brazil, and Algeria. Stealth was an important part of SOCOM, and it remains so in SOCOM II. In fact, being detected in SOCOM II seemed to have greater consequences than in the first game. You’ll need to stay out of sight, discreetly take down enemies – often at a distance, and erase any evidence that your team has been there. You’ll spend a lot of time sneaking through brush, walking in gullies, and crouching behind walls while looking to pick off isolated enemies through your scope. I find this style of play to be tense and rewarding, but run and gun shooter fans might find it frustrating that their usual tactics will more often than not result in their demise. The amount of damage that you can take from enemy fire is more realistic than in most shooters, and while SOCOM II is not always as realistic as a Tom Clancy game in this regard you can still be put out of commission by a well-placed shot or two.

You are never alone in SOCOM II, and will be joined on your missions by three other SEALs. The four of you are divided into two teams that will stick together by default, but you also have the option of issuing orders to either one or both teams. These orders will determine how a team reacts to enemy sightings (fire at will, hold fire, etc.), whether they should follow you, stay put, or move to a specified waypoint, and can even be used to instigate special attacks such as setting explosive charges. Like in SOCOM you can issue these orders through a headset, but SOCOM II does not come with one included. You can still issue orders easily without a headset through an easy to use cascading onscreen menu. If you can get your hands on a headset, though, you should do so. The voice recognition is excellent and it adds to the gameplay experience when you hear your squad acknowledge your orders through the headset.

The AI of your team is quite good, and they do a very efficient job of carrying out your orders. They can move stealthily between locations without getting themselves killed all the time and more than hold their own in a firefight. If they cross your line of fire, they’ll stop and freeze so that you’ll be able to quickly identify them. The only time your squad gets in your way is in confined spaces when you turn around to go back where you cam from. The AI can have a hard time understanding that you want to go the other way and so you’ll have to do some pushing to get past your squad.