Bravo! Fireteam...

Slant Six Games' third effort in the SOCOM franchise turns out to be quite the pleasant surprise.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: February 18, 2010
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I've never really been a huge fan of third-person shooters on the PSP. Somehow I've never gotten my head wrapped around the idea of having to control a shooter with only one stick. To be honest (and fair), I haven't really played any shooter on the system until Ryan had the glorious idea of suggesting me to review SOCOM U.S Navy Seals Fireteam Bravo 3. This means, that I have not played any of the previous games in the Fireteam Bravo series either, so keep that in mind when reading this review. Not to worry though, I have a wealth of experience when it comes to shooting terrorists in the face.

 
I didn't expect much before first turning on Fireteam Bravo 3. I expected the controls to be clunky and unresponsive. I didn't even expect the campaign to have a story at all, not to mention any dialogue. Now that I have finished the campaign, and fought myself through a bunch of custom missions, I feel...enlightened. So, is it any good? Yes, great even. But it also has its fair share of flaws.
 
You play as Wraith, a good guy Navy Seal, the type of hero and leader who's always ready to sacrifice his own life in order to save that of his men. His character isn't very deep, none of the characters are, but that won't prevent you from letting the decent voice acting and the well directed cut-scenes draw you into the story very quickly. Yes, the presentation is very very good. So good even, that I'd almost be willing to forgive the plot any of its shortcomings and clichés, including the sometimes unoriginal dialogue. I say almost, if there hadn't been the abrupt and uninspired ending which just creates a sense that there wasn't any time left to further develop the plot.
 
But Fireteam Bravo 3 has more to offer than just its great presentation. Before deploying into each of the eight missions (which can be played cooperatively through ad-hoc and even over the internet) you get to choose your team's equipment, as well as your own, including the primary and secondary firearms. At the beginning of the game there isn't much to choose from because most of the weapons and equipment require unlocking. In order to do so, you need to either complete certain actions and thereby earn medals (very reminiscent of trophies), or you can simply buy the goods with the help of credits you earn for completing campaign missions and even custom missions. However, keep in mind that the credits you earn during the campaign can also be invested into outfits and special characters for the competitive multiplayer part of the game. Though in order to afford everything there is to pay for, you need to invest quite a bit of time into the game's custom missions. At first I was a bit let down by the idea of a game mode that lets you replay missions from the main campaign with a few options to change the rules to your liking, however it turns out that custom missions are a ton of fun.

Early in the review I've mentioned that I was very skeptical towards the game's controls. I'm glad to be able to say that they don't suck. Even better; they've actually turned out decent. The PSP's analog stick controls your character's movement as well as the direction you look, with the right trigger letting you go into auto-aim-mode. This means that most of the shooting feels a bit too automatic. You can always aim manually, though doing so means that your movement is limited and the chance of getting overrun by hostiles increases dramatically. FB3 also lets you do some light squad commanding. You can choose between standard tactics like “stealth,” “fire-at-will” and “hold fire,” order your squad to fire on a certain target and even let them open and breach doors for you. It delivers a great sense of being a team leader. However, it's not something that impacts the gameplay in any dramatic way. If a teammate gets gunned down, you have a short period in which you can revive him. Oftentimes your teammates will do that for you without you having to tell them. It's not just in these cases that your team behaves intelligently. I've not encountered a single situation where they were responsible for me failing a mission. While they won't take out all the enemies for you, your team plays a key role in your success.
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