Date: 03-09-2010 06:00
Reviewer: SilentWyvern

Type: PSP
Genre: Tactical third-person shooter
Developer: Slant Six

Fireteam Bravo is back! This time chasing an ex-KGB operative around a Balkan country, trying to stop a potential terrorist attack on western interests. But does this installment of the series live up to it's predecessors? Or does it fall flat and disappoint?

Story: Slant Six wanted to make SOCOM's story more than just a forgettable plot like most of the previous games. Focusing on the story of the SEALs themselves, you play as WRAITH (originally from SOCOM Mobile Recon and a secondary in Fireteam Bravo 2) who now leads Fireteam Bravo. SANDMAN (Fireteam Bravo and Bravo 2, is mentioned often in SOCOM 3 and Combined Assault) returns to help lead the team. And 2 new SEALs join the team, RAVEN (apparently has served with SANDMAN before, implying some time has passed since FTB2) and TORO (a green horn straight out of training). The story is a whole lot better than past SOCOM games.

The SEALs are sent into a Balkan region country, a former Soviet state, to investigate a possible terrorist threat. Because the country is a political powder keg they cannot have any contact with HQ, meaning no HQ voice to direct them, no air support, no evacs, theyíre in it completely alone. How ever the story doesnít do much more than other SOCOMs. The story is passable, but youíre probably not gonna find it very memorable. It has the problem of raising more questions than it answers and not providing enough details as it should about the KRA or Koratvia. The personal level of the story isnít to in-depth, they characters donít really develop and you probably wonít connect with any them. While itís better than pretty much every previous SOCOM in terms of the depth of the story, it sure is no Resistance Retribution.

Presentation: I really have to applaud Slant Six with this game; they really made it look good. If I could compare it to another game, itís about good as the Syphon Filter games. Only draw back to the graphics is they can appear grainy from time to time, but thatís nothing that canít be ignored. Character models are great, even when SEALs are talking in game the facial animations come through, which is a pretty neat thing if you catch it. The voice overs are great, and dialogue is believable. Music sounds great too, if a little loud. Most cut scenes are done with the character models and a few are full CG.

Unfortunately aside from a 30 second opening before each mission there are only 3 full CG cut scenes, only 2 of which youíll be able to view again. But there are plenty of in game cut scenes to hold you over. Guns all look real and each sounds original, only a few sound the same. When firing bullet casings are even ejected from the side of the gun, but some guns donít eject shells correctly, like the F90(P90), the real guns shells are ejected down past the handle. This really isnít a problem, it may just be because making each gun 100% correct would have put too much into the game. But all aside it looks great.

Gameplay: If youíre used to FTB2ís control scheme then FTB3ís will take you all of about 3 minutes to master. The analog nub moves your SEAL, X fires, your gun, square is your action button, hold it to reload and press it while simultaneously holding the nub down to do a 180 spin. Circle is for your commands, holding it will open a ring from which you can issue broad Fireteam orders, order Able or order Bravo. Bravoís 2 units canít be ordered individually. Triangle changes stance, tap it to stand and crouch, or hold it to lie down. R is your lock on button. L will cycle available lock targets, or when held allows you to strafe.

The D-Pad has a number of functions. Holding down will activate your NVGs, (only available on night maps) tapping right will change your rate of fire and will allow you to swap out the weapon your holding with a weapon on the ground. Up is zoom, hit it once and youíll go into an over the shoulder view, somewhat like Syphon Filterís or Resistance Retribution. Left on the D-pad will quick swap between primary and grenades (or secondary if no grenades are carried), holding it will open your weapon wheel.

Like I said, if youíre a vet from FTB1 or 2, this wonít be too hard to master. But may be daunting to new FTB players. The campaign is short, only spanning 8 chapters, but each is made up of 3 parts. After a mission is beaten players can do custom missions which are missions in a designated part of the map. There are 3 custom mission types, demolition, neutralize and disable. Custom missions can be set to higher or lower difficulties, more or less enemies, 1 or 4 SEALs. All of which contribute to how much CE you earn in the end. Both primary and secondary weapons can now have up to 4 attachments (if applicable).

Online: Like all SOCOMs this is where FTB3 shines. There are 2 online modes, competitive, which features 16 player head to head games. And Co-op which allows up to 4 players to tackle a campaign or custom mission. Competitive features 5 modes, Suppression, Free for all, Demolition, Tug of War and a new Leader game. There are 8 maps each varying in size and local. Leader is the only new game, 1 person on each team is randomly designated Leader, then its the teamís job to escort him to a checkpoint then the extraction point. No, you cannot forgo the check point and jump straight to the extraction, the EZ will only appear once the leader has cleared the check point.

If the leader lives then they will be the leader the next round, if he dies, a new leader will be selected. Only the leader can revive in this game type. Games are fully customizable, hosts can set what rules they want, health regain on or off, revive settings, weapons settings, ect. FTB3 features full clan and friend support, only the clan support is somewhat lacking. Clans are limited to 10 people, thatís counting the CL. You cannot follow clan mates to games from the clan menu. There is a ladder system but it all too often doesnít work right. Regular ranks are broken beyond belief too; itís pretty much guaranteed that your rank will be reset.

Co-op is pretty simple, do campaign or custom missions with 4 friends. All the same setting for single player are here so itís not much different. Online does feature mic support, but the mic button has been moved to right on the D-Pad, which pretty much 100% of the FTB3 community using mics are hoping they change.

Final Notes: I really hate to end a review saying ďI recommend this game: seems like a nub way to end it but, honestly this is a great online shooter. LOTS of guns (74 to be exact) lots of attachments. There are plenty of character customization options for your online persona, and 29 medals to unlock. While the single player may bore you in the long run, the online and co-op should insure hours upon hours of your life sunk into it.

Gamplay: 9
Graphics: 9
Replay: 8
Sound: 9
Online: 10
Overall: 9/10
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