Game Name: SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 3
Co-Op Type: 4 player online/local campaign
Publisher/Developer: Sony (publisher) / Slant Six Games (developer)
Release Date: Winter 2009
SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Fireteam Bravo 3 was on the floor at PAX, tucked away in the Sony booth. Most of the spectator attention was focused on God of War III and Uncharted 2, so we were able to grab some face time with the portable SEALs with ease.
First, I tested the controls to see if they jived with the last two Fireteam Bravo titles, and sure enough: they're pretty much exactly the same. You can still zoom in on enemies or lock onto them, which requires a line of sight. One new thing that I noticed was: when locking onto an enemy, holding the right trigger (R button) and sitting still for approximately three seconds will move the reticule from "center mass" to the head. This allows you to take a headshot without zooming in and out, and lets you see all of the action on-screen; if there are other enemies nearby, you can keep an eye on their proximity and which direction they're facing, and you can plan accordingly.
The visuals were par for the course for SOCOM handheld titles, despite being developed by Slant Six, the studio responsible for the award-winning art of the Syphon Filter PSP games. It did seem a tiny bit crisper, slightly reminding me of the visual style of SOCOM: Tactical Strike, also developed by Slant Six. Sounds are more than competent; the M16 rifle and MP5 machine gun that I used in the demo sounded just fine.
Like the other Fireteam Bravo titles, the Bravo fireteam is in the center ring: you control one SEAL and AI controls the other. As before, you can issue commands, but this time the "go to" command is accompanied by an icon that shows where your cohort will move to or take cover. This is another page taken from SOCOM: Tactical Strike, and it integrates well.
After taking out a few bad guys and exploring the moderately large mission area, I hopped out to the main menu and was greeted by an interface that was quite a departure from the usual SOCOM blue: Fireteam Bravo 3 features a field manual theme, something that has always been a staple for the game instruction booklet, but never to the in-game menus to my knowledge. Once in the main menu, I confirmed that 4-player co-op will be available in the campaign via ad hoc (local wireless) and infrastructure (online). Also available are custom missions, character customization, and online multiplayer, none of which I could access for the demo.
Fireteam Bravo 3 looks like it's coming along very well, but with no real surprises. It should be a solid portable co-op game coming this holiday season.