SOCOM II: U.S. Navy Seals
By: Matt C. on May 14, 2003
War can be devastating, but as many gamers found out last August, taking military combat online in the comfort of their own living room is a blast. In fact, with the help of SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals, (arguably the best PlayStation 2 online game currently on the market) more than 500,000 Network Adaptors are in North American homes thus far, according to Sony Computer Entertainment America. On top of that, over 1 million units of the game have been sold nationwide. Needless to say, SOCOM was just what Sony needed to kick off its online network.
So, after selling more than 1 million copies of your game, what do you do next? Go to Disneyland? No, make a sequel of course. And that's exactly what Zipper Interactive, SOCOM's primary developer, is doing as you read this sentence. What do they have planned for SOCOM 2? Read on to find out.
We all know that SOCOM's online mode is truly amazing for a console 3rd/1st person shooter, but the thing that left many people disappointed was the single player mode. Your comrades didn't always follow orders and the entire game could be beaten fairly quickly. Its obvious Zipper spent a lot more time on the online segments. Fortunately, they are going back and improving the single player campaign, so if you still won't have a broadband connection when SOCOM 2 arrives, you may want to pick this bad boy up for some good old fashion solo gameplay anyway. For example, both enemy and friendly AI is being beefed up for a more realistic combat experience. Terrorists use better teamwork to take you down, take cover more often, and they just won't be as predictable as before. As for your fellow SEAL members, they will actually obey commands, use more stealth, pay more attention to their surroundings and get in your way less often. They will even ask for permission to shoot first if you prompt them to.
In addition to improved AI, players will now be able to use various types of turrets -- one that shoots bullets and another that uses grenades to dish out major damage. Be careful though; baddies will have the turrets at their disposal as well. Also expect to use... wait for it... rocket and grenade launchers! Just make sure not to blow yourself up, soldier.
Now that I have the single player mode out of the way, its time to talk about the real reason why you are reading this preview: Online Gameplay. If you just got over your SOCOM 1 online addition, get ready to check yourself back into rehab, because SOCOM 2's multiplayer mode is going rock your world, yet again.
When you're not providing covering fire or shooting up the opposite team, you're more than likely chatting with your teammates, making new friends, or meeting up with current buddies. With that in mind, SOCOM 2's community will be even more interactive than before. First off, you can now talk in the lobby (with your team and the opposing team), and the name of the person who is currently speaking will appear on the screen, even during the game. A new buddy list will be included as well, so you can locate friends easier. Don't worry, you can also block asshats who keep bothering you, or mute them while on the battlefield.
SOCOM 2 still only supports up to 16 players at a time, but one feature common in online PC games will be the ability to simply join as a spectator. It will be similar to being dead during a match, but you'll never get to participate once you join as a spectator. For people unfamiliar with this concept, you simply follow a player of your choice around the map and watch his or her actions and you can switch to other players on the fly.
Two new modes are being added to the online portion of SOCOM 2. One is called escort, which has the SEAL team trying to extract VIPs out of harm's way of the terrorists. You don't have to get them to the extraction point, but you absolutely need to protect them if you want to win. The other mode is dubbed breach. Here, the goal is to place a bomb inside the terrorist base. Problem is, the SEALs need to bust open certain walls to reach the bomb zone.
Visually, SOCOM 2's 12 new levels will be significantly larger than the previous game. There will be more places to hide and more wide open areas. Some maps will even have one or more objective -- such as taking out a command center. Okay, we made up the command center part, as we aren't quite sure what objectives will actually be in the game. Lastly, is there anything being done to prevent people from using GameShark 2's and Action Replays online? Yes, rest assured that cheaters will have a more difficult time breaking the rules in SOCOM 2.
With all these great features and improvements, is there even a remote possibility that SOCOM 2: U.S. Navy Seals will disappoint? Well, despite the larger maps, this game still won't offer drivable vehicles. The computer controlled terrorists can use them; humans cannot. In addition, SOCOM 2 won't come packaged with a USB headset, so you need to use the one from the original title, or buy one when you pick up the game. The good news is that the SRP will be at $39.99 rather than $59.99. Expect more gameplay details soon.