Barrels can be blown up by gunfire - this is handy, and strategic.
From an old school SOCOM fanboy standpoint it feels like the series finally has some magic again, thanks to Fireteam Bravo 3. Without showing its age too badly, the SOCOM formula has been enhanced with current popular features - things like a hit indicator (a small X shape in the crosshairs that subtly shows when you hit someone), the ability to revive fallen players in co-op and multiplayer, and even precision aiming (Army of Two-esque third person zoom, and iron sights when stationary). You can now melee enemies with your rifle butt - that's always fun, and good for a stealth kill. Encumbrance - the effect on your movement speed that heavy equipment has - is back, as is online voice chat. Handguns are available in Fireteam Bravo 3, which is a first for the PSP games. In fact, over 70 weapons are on the roster! As you can imagine, this makes me very happy. Very.
In the "less happy" category are the lack of customizable controls (only one control scheme is available...like it or leave it), the absence of any kind of jumping or sprinting, no text chat in online lobbies, and a few technical issues that are making online play somewhat frustrating. Don't get me wrong: the games are smooth, with minimal lag...the trick is getting online and staying in a game. On top of that, I've played at least six hours of multiplayer ranked and unranked games, and not one stat has saved. I read that the stat tracking system is slow to update; I've been waiting on mine for five days. This would be a huge problem if content was unlocked based on statistical data, but thankfully Command Equity is saved properly, so I can customize my zero-rank character to my heart's content. Be it known also that I have not had one problem connecting to and staying in co-op games...and each time, my stats were correctly recorded. So apparently this only affects the versus modes.
For a portable game, there is some real eye candy here.
Leaving my frustrations behind, I checked out what co-op options were available; this is where the SOCOM fan and the co-op fan in me make sweet love and have a little fanboy baby. We knew already that the game was going to support up to four players throughout the campaign in ad hoc and infrastructure modes. What we didn't know until we played the release version was that custom missions are available as well. A custom mission in Fireteam Bravo 3 is basically just a campaign mission modified the way you see fit. Change the objective and/or the enemy difficulty, skins, and even density. It's nothing too fancy, but you can tailor-make a mission to earn the maximum amount of CE points. Bring in your friends, and the CE gets duplicated for each player. The only drawback in my opinion is that you can only play as members of the titular Fireteam Bravo, without customization. This is slightly offset by the ability to unlock any weapon in the whole game, even those not available in multiplayer. Gripes aside, the custom missions add a whole layer of replayability.