Third Time’s a Charm
January 20, 2010 – Though somewhat diminished in terms of its importance in the gaming world these days, SOCOM is still undoubtedly one of Sony’s marquis series. The action shooter has single-handedly buoyed the PSP’s online gameplay community, and its impact has been felt firmly on the PS3 as well. So even though the PSP may be entering its twilight years, the release of SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 is still a very big deal to the handheld community.
With big releases being few and far between, PSP owners are anxiously awaiting this oft-delayed entry into this legendary tactical shooter. The good news is that all the extra months that have been poured into the game after two delays seem to be working to the game’s advantage. There are two types of delays: the kind where the game needs tons of extra time because it’s just flat out broken, and then there’s the kind where the developer really cares about providing a polished, quality experience and takes extra time to ensure that. In this case, it seems to be the latter of those two, because every time we see this game it gets better and better.
Progress has been slow, and this isn’t what we’d call a quantum leap over its predecessor, but every new tweak and feature seems to be for the better. Against all odds SCEA seems to have been able to not only become one of the only developers in the world capable of producing a good shooter on the PSP, but they have improved it time and time again. This is no small feat.
Our short demo of the game brought us into a dense forest populated with enemies, which then opened up to an enemy compound that had to be taken out in an action-packed event filled with explosions. Though the storyline is still unclear, we’re pretty sure it had something to do with shooting the bad guys; which we did – a lot! As always, the storyline isn’t really of the greatest importance in the military shooter genre, and SOCOM is no different.
Fireteam Bravo 3 differentiates itself from the rest of SOCOM by being a little less tactical, and a bit more action-heavy. After all, it wouldn’t really be very effective to force the player to struggle with the PSP’s control in a desperate attempt to perform precise, complex tactical maneuvers. So FTB3 sidesteps this issue a bit and gives you the option to play slowly and strategicly if you please, but in many cases playing super-soldier can also work.
The best aid for players in this new campaign is that the cover mechanic is actually working very well now. Whereas in previous iterations complaints had been made that taking cover was overly complicated and didn’t work nearly well enough, those problems appear to have been fixed as we didn’t have any problems walking up to just about any surface and taking cover.
The core gameplay of the Fireteam Bravo series is essentially going to remain the same except that it’s been tweaked and improved. The rest of the additions are just icing on a cake of what we already know is awesome. For example, the game will feature a total of over 70 different weapons. As if that wasn’t enough, weapons come with four separate slots for gun modifications to allow you to really make each of those 70 weapons all your own. There’s also the online co-op mode which we haven’t been able to test out yet. It sounds absolutely amazing to be able to play through the entire campaign of a PSP game with a friend over the Internet. However, we remain skeptical. We’ll believe it when we’re able to see firsthand how well it works.
The graphics and presentation also don’t seem to have gotten a huge increase over the previous installments in the series. This game still looks great, and it is just as high quality as any other military shooter on a portable console. However, we’re starting to see some stagnation in the PSPs graphical quality, and it’s beginning to look like developers may be near to reaching the end of the PSP’s power potential.
FTB3 is scheduled to release on February 16, although it should be noted that the game has previously been beset with delays, so we’ll have our fingers crossed hoping it makes that date.