The squad based military 3rd person shooter is back with another tense adventure. The PlayStation 2 system's top online gaming franchise continues its assault with an all-new 4-player cooperative play, improved enemy AI, and new vehicles and weapons for campaign mode. You are placed in command of the most feared Special Forces team assembled through varied missions spanning across multiple diverse regions.
The game's campaign mode can be undertaken in single player or in 4-player online cooperative mode. Additionally, players will have the option to select an individual tactical mission area that was previously completed, and play it as a stand-alone, or 'Instant Action', mission in 4-player online cooperative play.
I feel that it is on this genre of game where the PS2 shows its age the most. This is not because the graphics are bad per se, but more due to the fact the next-gen systems out there make this type of game look so good. You only have to look at games like GRAW2 on the Xbox 360 to see the level of polish and realism achievable nowadays.
For the PS2 graphics are good and the explosions looking particularly spectacular. The visuals do convey a sense of gritty realism that you would expect in these environments.
Sounds are well incorporated into the game - again fitting with the more realistic feel of the game. Guns sound threatening, orders are barked in gruff voices and the aforementioned explosions will have you jumping out of your seat.
You will probably start out with the training missions which will allow you to familiarise yourself with the controls and basics. Following on from this you can delve into the newly implemented badge system - objective is you must complete through your single campaign. Each time badges are earned further content is unlocked such as weapons and music.
Each mission has various objectives for you and your team to complete with lots of obstacles and enemy forces trying to stop you. Enemy AI in the game is superb and often frustratingly so - this is no game for the feint hearted. The game does a good job of creating the tense atmosphere of creeping through woods, staying hidden until the dogfight breaks out and the adrenaline starts pumping.
Levels are laid out in a thoughtful and interesting manner offering you lots of places to hide and gain a tactical advantage if you use the grey matter. One new addition to the game also prove helpful - one is the stealth bar which lets you know how well you are hidden - this really helps on the more stealthy missions and avoids the frustration of being spotted mid mission and having all of your good work up to that point go to waste.
Unfortunately I didn't play the game online but by all accounts it is meant to be a fun experience and generally runs smoothly.
There are a few annoying aspects that may put some gamers off - checkpoints are few and far between and this coupled with a higher than average difficulty level can lead to a lot of replayed levels. In the previous games health regenerated over time however this is no longer the case so no more lying low while you catch your breath! - This keeps the game more fluid but does make things trickier.
This is by far the best tactical shooter available on the PS2 - while there may be better looking and better executed versions/examples on other formats there is still a lot of fun to be had from this game and a decent challenge included. The game requires you to think and strategise more than the usual gung-ho approach to shooters but is refreshing change because of this. Overall a well made and enjoyable game.
I give SOCOM Navy SEALS Combined Assault .
8 out of 10