SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Tactical Strike «

SOCOM’s Fireteam Bravo series is no slouch, but there’s only so much you can do with a single buddy, and direct control of the hero meant more time looking down a gun barrel than exploring strategic possibilities. Tactical Strike is an abrupt about-face in that respect, replacing direct action control with indirect tactical command, but though the management focus and target audience have changed considerably, the gameplay is more satisfying than ever.

South of the Border

An ambassador to Panama is kidnapped by insurgents, and your team of four must bring him back alive. Four regular soldiers wouldn’t stand a chance against an army, but Navy SEALs are anything but wet-behind-the-ears scrubs. Nine different special forces outfits vie for your attention, from Australia to the Netherlands, each with their own favored load-outs. Play itself doesn’t change at all from group to group, but the shift in language and appearance from one to another lends a more international flavor to the game, and the result is slightly less of a thinly-veiled exercise in jingoism.

As you’d expect, the controls have changed considerably, but they adeptly put a wide range of seemingly complex commands at your fingertips. A tap of the circle button drops a movement skimmer on the ground, and any pause in its travels results in a positional preview of your squad. It’s a simple touch, but it eliminates a substantial amount of guesswork and frustration. Hold down Circle, and you might tell your crew to approach with stealth, pound the pavement, or move along under covering fire instead.

Throwing a grenade opens up a manual trajectory display, but that’s as close to direct control of an individual as you get. Hovering amid your team, you exist as a sort of disembodied overwatch commander, but this perspective lets you do a lot more than simply squeeze the trigger when an enemy wanders under your action reticule. Hold down X to define a field of fire that instructs your current focus group to attack anything that strays into a particular part of the screen, or decide whether to breach a door via a frag grenade or stealth. Locks need picking, security systems need hacking, and unwary thugs need a nice sharp knife in the kidney.


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