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Review: SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 (PSP)

The SOCOM series traditionally focuses on tactical decision-making rather than big action; large set piece battles become few and far between when players utilize the correct tactics to mechanically disable the opposition. In SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3, the careful execution of enemy forces still exists, but in the end, most missions boil down to the same tactic found in other shooters: survival.

In Fireteam Bravo 3, the SEALs have infiltrated an action movie and there's no turning back.

Gallery: SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 | 33 Photos

It's one of the few times you really need to babysit your team of Navy SEALs, which is as inane a thing to write as it must be to read.

Players take the reins as SEAL Alpha Squad leader Calvin "Wraith" Hopper, along with a team of three other SEALs. (This, of course, is to facilitate the new four-player co-op.) When the team is called into the Soviet-like country of Koratvia, things go from bad to worse and the SEALs are forced to trot around the region looking for an ex-KGB officer they believe has information on a WMD threat in the region.

FTB3 continuously reminds you of its action focus with battles like those against an armored APC and a frustrating face-off against a helicopter. It's one of the few times you really need to babysit your team of Navy SEALs, which is as inane a thing to play as it must be to read.

Levels degenerate into a three-pronged approach: Enter an area, dismantle, proceed, but the game's eight levels aren't repetitive, if only because the entire experience is so painfully short.

But single-player isn't the draw here. SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 offers a varied list of multiplayer options. The new custom mission feature allows players to select from a laundry list of settings on each of the game's levels to increase or decrease difficulty, which affect the amount of experience points collected upon completion. I only had a few hours of monitored time with FTB3's competitive modes -- so it's impossible to tell how network connectivity will react to a larger player-base -- but it was easily the most fun I had with the game.

Controls from FTB2 have remained relatively intact, and the lock-on enemy system remains one of the best configurations for PSP shooters. Gone is the cluttered interface from Fireteam Bravo 2, replaced with a cleaner layout and a huge number of weapon and player customization options.

As a single-player only experience, SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 sadly falls flat. Missions offer quick and exciting large-scale battles, but the campaign is over way too quickly. Multiplayer, on the other hand, is extremely fun and has plenty of promise (as long as the network connections are solid). If most of the places you game have WiFi access then you'll have a chance to play with the best of FTB3, but if not, there are better experiences waiting for you on console.

Editors' note: This review is based on a retail code for the game provided by Sony Computer Entertainment America.

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