AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Your average bad guy with a gun takes three seconds to get ready, aim, and fire on a moving target. Our military knows this and drills the so-called three-second rule--a tactic of zagging and zigging every three seconds while beating feet through a war zone--into its troopers. And if the military knows it, so does Zipper Interactive, the gung-ho developers (they once coded simulations for Uncle Sam) of last year's lethally realistic PlayStation 2 online shooter SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs. Now they're teaching the three-second rule to the terrorists in the game's follow-up, U.S. Navy SEALs II, due in November.
And when we spied all the other training routines that Zipper is imposing on the sequel's terrorists and SEAL allies to make them meaner, smarter, and faster than before, it took us three seconds to target the game as this fall's number-one must-play title. "After SOCOM 1, we were looking at doing more of an expansion pack for the follow-up," says Producer Seth Luisi, "but marketing and sales were just going to bill it as a sequel anyway. So we wanted to make sure it really is the next iteration of the game. We've really had to dig in and add all the stuff we wanted."
Aside from the brainier allies and enemies, that "stuff" includes rocket launchers and mountable turrets, more-complex missions, LAN support, voice masking, new multiplayer games, and fun little touches sure to make the Navy brass who endorse this game grumble. (You can now bust into a celebratory breakdance on the corpses of thine enemies, for instance.)
Depending on which way you like to wage war--either solo or against the world--we've broken down this sequel's specs into single-player and online-multiplayer (page 122) sections. Whichever route you take, keep moving. Remember that three-second thing?
What's new in single-player
"I'm sure we're on a government watch list for all the research we're doing," says Zipper Creative Director David Sears, referring to the hundreds of hours the Zipper team has spent studying terrorists, their tactics, and their haunts. "We certainly haven't run out of bad places in the world to send your SEALs." SOCOM II's 12 single-player missions globe-trot your team of four SEALs to don't-go-there hotspots in Albania, Algeria, Brazil, Russia, and a level at sea. "It gives us a pretty wide range of enemy types," Sears says. "We'll have 40 unique new characters in …