SOCOM: U.S. NAVY SEALS TACTICAL STRIKE; for the PSP; Sony Computer Entertainment; rated "T" for Teen; reviewer's rating 7 (out of 10)

If you're going to go after a terrorist organization, you're going to need teamwork, and that's what this latest version of Socom is all about. Be warned, this is not a game in which you leave your team in the dust, guns blazing. Tactical Strike takes the Socom series and turns it in the direction of a strategy game.

In this version, you'll command strike teams by telling them where to go and how to attack, but going it solo is no longer an option. Teams must work together to cover one another from nests of armed soldiers in order to progress to your mission goal. Several missions are linked to the overall story of rescuing the U.S. ambassador to Panama, who has been abducted by "insurgent" forces.

You can give commands to strike teams by using a special shuttle to point them in the right direction. However, the shuttle can be a bit touchy to use and can often get stuck out of your camera's sight, in which case you'll have to try again. Speaking of cameras, the game could have used a bit more camera control. It sometimes becomes difficult to tell what's going on because the camera is trained at the wrong angle. Switching between views of different teams can also be disorienting.

Your fellow soldiers have got your back, right? Well, sometimes. The soldiers' AI doesn't always do a highly trained Navy SEAL justice. They don't react to being fired upon by taking cover; rather, they just sit there until you tell them to move to a safer location. Other times they shoot through boxes and walls, trying to get at the enemy.

These incidents aren't too common but do tend to ruin the feel and suspense of missions.

Graphics: Game levels are nicely constructed and give a good feel that your team is operating in South America. Jungle levels are covered with vegetation and large palm trees. Your soldiers are also nicely constructed, especially for a hand-held gaming device, and you can tell that there was attention to detail.

Audio: What makes this game unique is that you can play more than just U.S. Special Forces teams. Players can also choose from special forces from the U.K., Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, South Korea and the Netherlands. This is interesting because mission briefings as well as the radio traffic from your soldiers will all change to their native tongue. It kind of gives the player an interesting experience to listen to a special-forces operation in another language, which I thought was a nice twist.

The Wrap-up

Parent's Take: This game involves firearm and other violence as well as references to drugs. One thing I find troubling about the Socom and some other military-based games are ads by military recruiters. Some parents might take issue with recruiters using video games to reach younger players.

Final Word: Tactical Strike is worth checking out if you love Special Forces games that involve a bit more strategy than running through, emptying your clips. Some camera and AI issues keep it from its full potential.


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