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     " It wouldn't surprise me to find a bunch of people buying PS2s just to get their hands on this baby. "

      Title: SOCOM: US Navy SEALs by Sony

      Format: PS2 Shooter

      Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters

      The Hype: Historically, tactical shooters haven't done so well on consoles. Previous ports of games like Rainbow 6 haven't really been received well and the market is still waiting to be blown open. Thus, for it's newest outing, Sony has turned their sights on Navy SEALs and wants them to infiltrate your PS2. Will it snuggle you like a garrote or leave you bogged down on the shore? Read on, monkeys…

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: Without a doubt, SOCOM is a pretty, pretty game. Lush environments, killer models, great detail, and some snazzy fx keep the visuals sharp and the screen exciting. They're so good, in fact, that a scary number of the little geeks on-line seem to feel their terrifying special operator visage rubbed off on them and made them tough in real life. It looses a point, though, for not having any kind of dynamic modeling for wounds- getting hit doesn't effect you, or your model, at all until your dead. Ah well. 4 out of 5

      Playability: As I said in the intro, it's obvious that Sony wanted SOCOM to be their foray into the tactical shooter genre. Damage is dangerously deadly, game pacing tends to be slow and methodical, and missions rely heavily on stealth and tactics…and all that's good. Before missions you'll have pre-op planning, during you'll use some killer teamwork and on the fly tactics to accomplish your goals, and during it all you'll look forward to counter-sniping snipers and clearing rooms with wreckless abandon. But best of all, hands down, is the integration of voice recognition technology to commanding your teammates. It works simply enough- SOCOM comes with a headset that you can use during missions to issue commands to the 3 SEALs following you and receive input and orders from base. Uber-schweet. And this translates into an amazing amount of flexibility in letting you decided when and how to clear a room, secure a perimeter, or establish cover formations…or at least it would if not for the rather silly AI and base control.
          Which leads, hands down, into the biggest flaw SOCOM brings to the table- it's depressingly linear in game mission parameters and at times sketchy AI. The first, meant to be exciting and spontaneous, means that the game will issue changing orders as your mission progresses. Unfortunately, often times this will mean re-doing things you've already done (because the game doesn't track that you've already done it). The second, as you might expect, means occasionally you'll look at your teammates and ask "WHAT THE @$#&!" as they sporadically do typically irritating dumb AI things.
          Still, when all's said and done, SOCOM ends up being a blast to play. 4 out of 5

      Story and Drama: Story? Bah! Who needs a story? It's based on real SEAL missions in real SEAL mission locations…isn't that all that matters? 3 out of 5

      Multiplayer and Replayability: Far and away the coolest part of SOCOM, Sony made both the game and the headset compatible with their on-line adapter to give you some seriously fun multiplayer gaming. Though intermittently plagued by lag, the experience overall is fantastic and one that any console gamer really needs to experience. And though they really could have used an established lobby and log ins to keep you from gaming with the occasional 12 year old vulgarity spewing punk, all in all it's an incredibly rewarding experience. 4 out of 5

      The Verdict:

       In the end, SOCOM is a definite hit and sits as raining king of PS2 shooters. It's got a great pace, some killer graphics, voice support and recognition, and on-line multiplayer. It wouldn't surprise me to find a bunch of people buying PS2s just to get their hands on this baby.

      The Good: Great graphics, fun play, and voice

      The Bad: Some annoying AI issues

      The Overall Ugly: All in all, this one's a keeper.

      What it's Worth: Market

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