The original SOCOM was met with some skepticism by cynics who couldn't see a team-based, "one shot and you're out" working with gamers who were more familiar with run and gun speed-fests like Quake. Almost 4 years later, Sony and Zipper interactive have seemingly shut down all the cynics, as SOCOM and its sequel have become some of the most popular online games on the PS2. After two successful games, Zipper is coming back with a third installment of the series for the PS2 and an all-new SOCOM for the PSP.
Just as the last SOCOM made improvements on the original, SOCOM 3 will also make some improvements of its own. A majority of these modifications will be made to the game's most popular mode -- multiplayer. The number of players in a match will be upped from 16 to 32. Map size will be also be increased to make room for the additional company, though smaller maps will still be available for players who want to stick with more intimate games. SOCOM 3 will keep the same multiplayer modes as past games and will add two additional ones. In Control mode, players will fight for control of five points on a map. Unlike other "capture" modes, such as the one in Unreal 2004, Control won't have teams playing tug-of-war over points, so two teams can hold one point. Instead, the first team to nab all five points wins. Convoy makes use of one of SOCOM 3's other additions, vehicles. One team will have control of unarmed vehicles travelling across the map. It's their duty to protect the convoy while the other team tries to blow it up.
SOCOM 3 will also add new community options to the online experience. Email and message boards will be included that allow players to interact with each other, such as setting up tournaments and clan matches, as well as giving them the ability to interact with the developers. This new level of interaction between Zipper and the game-playing community will allow players to report bugs, exploits and ask questions to the developers. Zipper also plans on using the message boards to poll players on new content, such as maps. Ladder and Tournament options are also in the works. Clans can now register with the service and place themselves in a ladder based on their clan's best time to play. So, if your clan can only play from 6 - 8 PM, you can set yourselves in a ladder meant for that playtime.
Not all of SOCOM 3's improvements lie on the multiplayer side. Giving orders to teammates, at least when you're not feeling up to using the headset, has been made easier through the use of a radial menu and the one-touch order system. A.I. has been improved, making your team much better suited for action. Enemy A.I. has also been reworked, so watch out. In-mission save points have also been included, which will help during the long missions.
Both the single and multiplayer modes will benefit from some reworked mechanics and gameplay additions. The most exciting of these additions are the aforementioned vehicles, such as trucks, jeeps and boats that will help you traverse the larger maps quickly. Vehicles will have multiple entry points; so you can choose to drive or take a gunner's seat. Between games it seems as though the government has popped for swimming lessons for SEALS, as they can now swim and take cover in water.
SOCOM 3 will contain about 30 weapons, ranging from assault rifles to pistols and even mines. Attachments will be available so you can customize your weapons with suppressors, optical systems and grenade launchers.
The PSP's SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo will mirror its console cousin in a number of ways. It will include both single-player and multiplayer modes and include much of the same action you've come to expect from the series. Many of Fireteam Bravo's single-player missions will correspond with those you'll tackle in SOCOM 3. These will include intelligence gathering missions, hostage rescues and insurgent attacks.
Fireteam Bravo will also include a number of changes from the formula. You'll only have one teammate instead of four with orders still being issued through a menu system. The other change is control. In response to the PSP's one analog stick, which is used for movement, the camera will be locked behind your character. A special lock-on feature has been introduced to allow you to keep tabs on certain enemies. However, the lock-on should not be mistaken for an auto-target, since even a lock-on doesn't mean an instant hit.
Little information has been released about Fireteam Bravo's multiplayer side. One thing we do know is that a new context-sensitive command system will be included given the lack of voice communication between team members.
SOCOM 3 and Fireteam Bravo's single-player modes will "link up" with each other. As you go through SOCOM 3, bonus goals will present themselves. If you can complete these missions, they will affect Fireteam Bravo's missions by reducing resistance or opening up new paths. Things you do in Fireteam Bravo will also impact missions in SOCOM 3. So, if you find some WMDs in Fireteam, you may have to destroy them in SOCOM 3?s corresponding mission.
Both SOCOM 3 and SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo will be released this Fall for the PS2 and PSP.