As yet another SOCOM game, Fireteam Bravo 3 on PSP delivers predictably. Generic Important Guy is missing; dudes sent in to find Generic Important Guy have also gone missing; you the Navy Seal and three of your boys must go to Soviet-sound-alikevia, rescue Generic Important Guy and, in a nice and vague mission addendum, neutralize whatever threat might be present.
Bang bang, duck n' cover, yay squad-based tactical shoot-'em-up.
Of course, anyone who's played a late model SOCOM game on PSP or PS3 also knows that the single-player stuff is pretty much the appetizer to the real meat and potatoes, the online multiplayer modes that have you going toe to toe with actual people (or toe with toe on the feet of your squad mates, as the case may be).
Not that you need to dismiss the single-player component of Fireteam Bravo 3 completely, it's the base means of familiarizing yourself with the controls and gameplay particulars, after all.
Good thing, too, as controls continue to deliver a joint-vexing regimen of thumbstick, shoulder bumper and face button consternation, where the mere act of walking and targeting at the same time is an exercise in left hand tetanilla (look it up
). Modest configuration options allow you to auto-lock on a target instead, but then tap 'n' scroll through multiple targets when available, which is like, always, which feels more "whack-a-mole" than "tactical."
As usual, you don't really blame game design but rather the PSP's long-lamented lack of a second thumbstick for the right hand, despite games like SOCOM and a hundred others pretty much requiring one, unrequited.
So, as the PSP gamer's mantra goes, you get used to it. And, considering that this is the third game in the series, clearly a viable number of gamers actually enjoy it. Sickos.
Anyway, on to the T-bone and Idaho russets.
You can gather your carpal-tunneled self and three friends together for some ad hoc or internet-connect Fireteam-ing, where the four of you can blaze through nine levels of a cooperative campaign of infiltrating this, pilfering that and sometimes-stealthily taking out all those other things using gobs of different weapons and explosives. Once completed, you can modify those levels by tweaking the number of enemies you'll face, their toughness and the actual objective.
The wildest fun is found in Fireteam Bravo 3's 16 player, team-based online mode, complete with 8 unique maps and 5 different game types including the SOCOM classics of straight up elimination matches and a demolition mode where you try and blow up the other team's base. Great stuff, as always, because it's real people having at it in that fake warfare realm, not just computer controlled compatriots of dubious artificial intelligence.
Interestingly enough, Sony has also chosen SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 to test out a new so-called anti-piracy measure, which also happens to lock out the used games sales market with quiet efficiency.
As downloaded purchases are forever locked to your PSP, this is no surprise (just a bummer). However, even if you buy the real, tangible, hard-copy UMD Bravo 3 game at retail, you need to enable online play with a one-time voucher code included in the packaging.
Thus, should you happen to pick up a used copy of the game - normally a great way to play a great game when you're lacking great amounts of money - you're not totally out of luck, only "mostly" out of it.
As it happens, you will be required to pony up $20 to re-voucher-ize the online component, which happens to be the game's best feature. Thus, though a used copy of Fireteam Bravo 3 at $20 might seem like a heck of a deal, it's really $40 if you want it to function fully, which is the same as buying it new. So maybe you'll find it for $10 used, which means trade-in value is, like $2, which is a similar dissuasion from coughing up the 40 bills in the first place, unless you plan to enshrine the UMD when you're bored of it or when Bravo 4 comes out.
Nevertheless, SOCOM Fireteam Bravo 3 for PSP is an outstanding 3rd-person tactical shooter. If you're a fan of the series you'll note there's not much new, but the same-old is still pretty same-great. If you just like the general idea of a great 3rd-person tactical shooter, Fireteam Bravo remains the benchmark for such stuff on PSP, so again, worth purchasing brand new. Find it used for $2, add $20 and it's a smokin' deal... just one with no trade-in value.