|SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs|
|File:Socom 2 Box Art.jpg|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Genre(s)||Third-person shooter, Tactical shooter|
|Mode(s)||Single player, multiplayer|
SOCOM II is a third-person tactical shooter video game for the PlayStation 2 and a sequel to SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs. The game was developed by Zipper Interactive in collaboration with the Naval Special Warfare Command and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. SOCOM II was released on November 4, 2003. The online servers for this game, along with the other PS2 and PSP SOCOM titles, were shut down on August 31, 2012.
SOCOM II is a third-person tactical shooter. There are 12 different single-player missions: split equally between Albania, Algeria, Brazil and Russia. There are five different ranks that can be played in the game: Ensign, Lieutenant, Commander, Captain and Admiral. The player starts with the first three ranks unlocked, but must finish the single player game on Commander to unlock Captain, and on Captain to unlock Admiral. Players can unlock new models for multiplayer, as well as movies, music, concept art, and credits by completing certain objectives.
Each mission has primary, secondary, and hidden bonus objectives. Players have to complete all the primary objectives to win the mission, and secondary objectives are optional, but add to the overall score for the mission. The hidden bonus objectives usually help make other missions easier. For example, finding a map in one mission means the player will not have to work to find that place in the next mission. A letter grade is received at the end of each mission based on 4 categories of score: Stealth, Accuracy, Teamwork, and Objective Completion. In single player, orders can be given to the rest of the team. This can be done using either the command menu or a USB headset. The menu features new command options, enabling the player to order their teammates to drop to the ground and hold position when outdoors.
The online multiplayer portion of SOCOM II requires a broadband connection for play. This mode sets two teams of up to eight, SEALs and Terrorists, against each other. The default round time is six minutes, and each game is decided based on the first team to win 6 of 11 possible rounds. Each team spawns at opposite sides of the map, and proceeds to pursue its objective. When a character dies, the player must wait for the next round to resume play. While dead, the player may monitor the status of his teammates, and may change his weapon load. In a room created by a given SOCOM II user, factors such as the number of rounds, round type, round time, weapon restrictions, and friendly fire can all be adjusted to the creator's liking.
SOCOM II supports chat and prohibits in-game loitering. Voice chat is permitted in server lobbies, but not while in the armory of game lobbies. There are in-game options to mute certain players and to switch to different channels of communication (offense, defense, etc.). Problems with locating acquaintances in the original SOCOM online lead to the development of both a Friend List and a Clan Roster. The game features twelve new online maps, along with ten maps from the original SOCOM. The maps carried over from SOCOM have undergone minor changes such as turrets and breaches being added, daytime maps being switched to night and some paths being blocked, while others have been opened. Three additional maps could be played by purchasing an issue of the Official PlayStation Magazine which came with a CD. Players would then install the contents of the CD onto their PS2 hard drive.[clarification needed] Online capabilities were terminated on August 31, 2012.
The game first begins when the SEAL team members Specter, Jester, Wardog, and Vandal are alerted by an informant codenamed MALLARD of a blackmarket group called the Sesseri Syndicate, led by a man name Cassrioti Sesseri, who are trafficking and selling weapons and plutonium from their bases in Albania and sending them to cities from London to Cairo. The SEALs are sent in to investigate, locate and destroy the Syndicate's weapon caches and if possible, capture a mid-level member named Besnik for interrogation. In the second and third missions the Bravo element in the team are replaced by two, highly trained SAS operatives designated Sabre and Reaver. The SEALs and their SAS counterparts are charged with bringing down the Syndicate, first by shutting down an abandoned factory in Shkodër as well as capturing or killing the man over the factory, A general named Mizlech Rugova, then capturing or killing the remaining leaders at their stronghold, the Sesseri family castle in the Albanian mountains. The team is able to neutralize the Syndicate's leadership and the organization falls apart.
In Brazil, a group calling themselves the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Brazil (RAFB) have threatened to seize control of the government there. In the opening cutscene, a rebel deserter who had stolen cocaine escapes through the Amazon jungle until Quixada Christo, a leader of the RAFB, apprehends and murders him. Christo, the daughter of a prostitute and a wealthy industrialist, harbors a strong resentment of men, explaining for the RAFB's majority demographic of females. In the first mission, within the slums of Rio de Janeiro, the four-man SEAL team is sent to recover information from an informant. When the SEALs arrive at the target building, the informant is not there, but is being tortured by RAFB members on the opposite building. The team recovers him and later follows him to a discreet location, where he discloses information about a meeting between Christo and the Lucimar, the leader of the local RAFB cell. They eventually capture the cell leader who reveals the whereabouts of an RAFB training camp. The SEALs traveled deep into the Amazonian rainforest and destroyed an underground cocaine factory, which was being used by the RAFB to fund their operations. With their funds cut, Christo and the RAFB made a last desperate attempt to destabilize the government by seizing the "Grand Parana Dam." The RAFB threatened that if their demands are not met, they will blow up the dam, crippling the Brazilean economy. The SEAL team is sent in to retake the dam, defuse any explosive devices on site and kill Christo. The SEALs are successful and the RAFB is no longer a threat.
In Algeria, a separtist faction called the Algerian Patriotic Front (APF), under General Heydar Mahmood, are instigating a coup to take control of the Algerian government. APF soldiers are overrunning the city of Bejaia, where CHA (Coalition for Humanitarian Aid) workers and peacekeepers (similar to United Nations peacekeepers) were staying on a Humanitarian mission. The SEAL team is sent to recover the CHA personnel and protect them from APF troops that are in control of the city. They later have to secure an area around the U.S. Embassy, where two State Department workers were left behind in the confusion of the evacuation of the city. They recover them and defend them from continuous attacks from the APF. After a long, intense firefight, an HH-60 Pave Hawk arrives and evacuates the group.
In Russia, a group calling itself Force Majeure, also known as the Global Liberation Front, is planning on making and using nuclear weapons to attack the United States. Intel from operatives in Eastern Europe suggests that Force Majeure's movements in the abandoned Kellski naval shipyard in Kamchatka, is a potential terrorist threat. The SEALs are sent in to investigate, supported by two Spetsnaz operatives, codenamded Polaris and Bludshot. The team discover evidences that Force Majeure is creating a nuclear bomb. With their findings, the team gets extracted by the USS Michigan. With Force Majeure nowhere to be found, things look grim, but fortunately the Russian Federal Security Service detects the presence of the terrorist group after investigating a supposed nuclear fuel spill. Disguised as members of the decontamination crew, Force Majeure operatives infiltrated the plant with additional terrorists arriving later. Their plan was to steal vast amount of enriched uranium to be use in their "dirty bomb". The SEALs and their comrades are sent into the plant to escort a radioactive specialist, codenamed Flatfoot, to see how much uranium had been stolen. The findings were not good, as almost all of the uranium storages had been empty. In the final mission of the game, the SEALs infiltrates a ship, the Bitter Moon, with a large payload of radioactive material, bound for Seattle, Washington. The terrorists are planning detonate the ship near Seattle. Aboard the ship, the SEALs discovered that MALLARD, the informant from the first mission, is actually an operative working for Force Majeure. He had used SOCOM to eliminate the Sesseri Syndicate, thus tying up a loose end, as Force Majeure had bought plutonium from the Syndicate before. The SEALs moves in and defuses all bombs place on the ship. The female leader of Force Majeure, Valeska Lukanov, is either killed or captured. Mallard, whose real name is Arjan Manjani, is killed. The team releases a smoke grenade as a signal to the USS Michigan to stand down, and the mission is complete.
SOCOM II was generally received well by critics. Both PSM and the Official PlayStation Magazine (now merged) gave this title perfect scores, hailing it as a "near-perfect game." It received a 92 from EGM, which cited deeper, more fun multiplayer modes as a positive. While many reviewers considered it among the best PS2 online experiences at the time, a few reviewers criticized it, calling it inadequate compared to PC and Xbox online experiences. IGN called it the 97th best PlayStation 2 game. The staff claimed that it was "last gen online gaming's dirty little secret" and that it may be a better online shooter than anything on Xbox Live.
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