The SOCOM series took an incredible leap forward with the release of SOCOM 3. Fans were treated to improved graphics, massive 32 player online matches, the addition of vehicles, and the introduction of crosstalk - a feature which allowed players to sync data between their PS2 copy of SOCOM 3 and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo on the PSP.
Unfortunately, even die-hard fans may be disappointed with Zipper Interactive's underwhelming new entry in the SOCOM library, SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault. Everything you loved about SOCOM 3 is here, again. But besides the new single-player campaign, a few extra multiplayer maps and PSP-enabled crosstalk, you'll likely be left wanting more.
You'll fan the flames of freedom as you tackle mercenaries and drug runners in the new single-player campaign, and there are lots of missions to sink your teeth into as you lead your stealthy squad to victory. But if you've played through SOCOM II and SOCOM 3, you'll get the feeling that you've done all this before and your attention will be drawn away from the new content towards the things you dislike about the series.
Your squad's AI is still a mixed bag. When it works right, they'll move as directed, open doors, clear rooms, and take out the enemy efficiently on command. But when it doesn't, everything falls apart. In one area we found ourselves taking fire on the rooftops of a rural village.
We quickly hopped down onto a ledge below to take cover and began returning fire when all of a sudden we heard a heavy thud, followed by a nasty grunt and someone yelling "Man down! Man down!" Apparently, our teammate Simple decided to leap off the top of the building in an attempt to follow us. Simple is as Simple does, we suppose.
Each level provides the illusion of an expansive area in which you'll have the freedom to tackle your various objectives in whatever way you see fit. But you'll see through this guise as they are peppered with cliffs, hills too steep to cross and doors that won't open. These obstacles make each mission play out in a linear manner as you complete each of the objectives in the intended order. Straying from the path will result in lots of backtracking or sudden death by enemy fire - both negative options, in our opinion.