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Sony's first online game for PlayStation 2 to require a broadband connection receives a sequel with the release of SOCOM II, offering more multiplayer modes, new single-player missions, more weapons, and a number of other added features. Players will lead their four-man team of SEALs on a series of 12 single-player missions that will take them across the globe to such destinations as Albania, Brazil, Russia, and Algeria. Instead of focusing on real-world events, the developers opted instead for fictitious terrorist scenarios that would be plausible given 2003's political climate.
A player's overall success in a mission helps influence the challenge level of subsequent operations, since enemy forces have a finite number of specialists working for them. Thus, eliminating a specific number of units in one particular mission means players may encounter less resistance on later missions. Completing secondary objectives in a mission can also increase a character's attributes in such skills as disarming bombs, so a player's team can grow in experience as they progress, which also influences the difficulty of subsequent missions to a degree.
Enemies have been designed to respond more quickly to a player's advances, seeking cover in foliage, throwing grenades to smoke players out, or setting up gun turrets to blanket the air with bullets. Pathfinding AI has also been addressed, and by watching how online players competed against each another in the first SOCOM, the developers were able to build a teamwork model for enemy units, who will now back each other up in pairs or in groups of three. The terrorists also feature new lines of dialogue and more animation, and will be able to use tanks, helicopters, and anti-artillery guns. To fight this threat, players can outfit their team with 16 additional weapons, including shotguns, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and anti-personnel mines.
Multiplayer missions feature all ten of the original game's maps with a few visual refinements, as well as an additional 12 maps to stalk through. Two new modes of play include Escort and Breach: Escort has players guiding a group of VIPs to safety, while Breach involves storming a heavily guarded base and eliminating a target as quickly as possible. SOCOM's original multiplayer games also offer more objectives, rewarding players with points for destroying radio towers, calling in airstrikes, and so forth. These points will increase a player's military rank, which identifies them to the SOCOM community. Other online improvements include a ranking system that incorporates clans as well as individual achievements, chat lobbies supporting the headset for communication (with optional voice masking features), and a friends list so players can track their teammates. Online play is still free, but headsets are sold separately. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide