The dangerous life of an elite Navy SEAL commander is the subject of this squad-based shooter, the first PlayStation 2 game requiring a broadband connection to play online. Single players will lead their four-man team on a series of 12 missions, ranging from ambushes to hostage rescue attempts, as they engage terrorists throughout such real-world locales as Thailand, Congo, and Turkmenistan. The game was developed in conjunction with Naval Special Warfare Command to breathe some accuracy into the objectives and tactical maneuvers players experience while advancing through the campaign.
The four SEALS comprising the team work together in two pairs: Able Element and Bravo Element. The advantage to this scheme is that Bravo Element can be sent to different waypoints on the tactical map, viewable at any time during play, to complete certain objectives or to rendezvous at key locations. Each player's partner must remain close to provide cover and backup when needed, so teams cannot split completely apart. Commands are relayed in a unified system of "who, what, and where," with abbreviations and call signs substituted for complete names.
Each mission begins with a briefing and a series of objectives, such as securing a building or neutralizing a sentry. The tactical map outlines structures, coordinates, and routes to take during the mission, and a choice of weapons, 30 types ranging from guns to explosive devices, can be equipped before hitting the ground. The attempt at realism is reflected in the manner in which players conduct themselves. Bodies of fallen comrades can be hidden to avoid detection, opponents can be silently taken out using a rifle butt or knife, and shadows can be used to conceal the player from a terrorist's keen eye.
Once players have grown accustomed to the single-player game, they can challenge up to 15 opponents on one, two, or three maps. Game types include Demolition, which is akin to capture the flag with bombs; Suppression, a deathmatch between terrorists and SEALs; and Extraction, where SEALS attempt to rescue hostages from terrorists. The initial release of SOCOM comes bundled with a headset allowing players to communicate with each other online. To take advantage of this optional feature, players simply connect the headset to a free USB port. Teammates can then coordinate attack strategies together without revealing their plans to the enemy.
PLAYER: 1 Player, 1-16 Players (Network)
RELEASE YEAR: 2002