SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 3 Review

The PSP certainly makes it tough for shooter developers. The lack of a second analog stick means that they can't make use of the de facto shooter control scheme that's been in use for over a decade. A number of schemes have been tried, and some have worked and some haven't, but it seems that a lot of games have adopted the scheme of compensating for the lack of a right stick by using the face buttons to perform their function. This brings us to Fireteam Bravo 3, which introduces yet another scheme to its third-person shooter action. The game pretty much tosses out the concept of controlling the camera or player look, using the analog nub for movement, a trigger for strafing, and taking camera control out of the equation. A target lock system compensates for lack of control over look, and you can select and cycle through enemies with the press of a button. This scheme works pretty well overall, but shooter fans may feel that it takes some of the challenge out of the game.

Fireteam Bravo 3 adds a tactical element to the gameplay that you don't get in most shooters, especially on the PSP. Your fireteam consists of yourself and three other soldiers, and before entering a mission you have full control over each team member's weapons loadout. When you're on a mission, you don't have direct control over your squadmates, but you can control their actions by issuing orders. The orders that you can issue range from the basic "move there" order to more complex actions such as performing a "bang and clear" on a room behind a closed door. The game makes it possible for you to have your squad do most of the dirty work for you, an option that is made even more tempting by the fact that your squadmates are only incapacitated when shot down and you can revive them back to life if you don't wait too long. However, the game is easy enough that you can do most everything on your own without relying on your squad. The target lock makes it relatively easy to take down enemies with a shot or two if you're judicious with your trigger finger, so you can move through the game pretty quickly without taking the time to issue orders to your squad.

In spite of the game's relative lack of challenge, I still found the campaign to be enjoyable. The story involves covert operations in a former Soviet republic and in and of itself it's about average as far as shooter stories go. The best part of the story, though, is that it takes you to a diverse set of environments, including urban, industrial, mountainous, and heavily wooded. The levels are pretty linear and a checkpoint system with set waypoints makes it easy to stay on course, but the diversity of the environments and objectives keep things interesting. I managed to move through the campaign pretty quickly, but I had fun doing so and in the end that's what matters.