Tactical Strike is the third hand-held game in the long-line of the SOCOM series. This one differs from its console cousins. Not only can the player choose to control a squad of US Navy Seals, but the player can alternatively decide to control one of several foreign units that have roles comparable to the SEALS, such as the Dutch KCT, German KSK, Australian SASR, the Italian 9th Parachute Assault Regiment, the Spanish UOE, the British SAS, the French GIGN or the South Korean 707th Special Mission Unit.
The story takes place in Panama, as the players national ambassador and the Panamanian ambassador are seized by a local group of rebel narcotrafficante kidnappers, referred to as "La Mano Los Gente" -- though it is worth noting that this is egregiously ungrammatical Spanish, since it would translate literally as "The Hand The People," because the "de" is missing! The fictional group of criminals, with their comical name, hold the pair for ransom and it is up to the player to conduct an increasingly complex and difficult operation in order to rescue the two diplomats.
The gameplay is different from other SOCOM games, in that there remains a squad of four men to control, but instead of bringing up a menu interface and then pointing the cursor to a certain location to give an order, this new game features a locator box that is moved along the surface of the ground. This lets the player choose a specific target location or rally point as the case may be, and then to use a certain button to instruct soldiers to take cover, establish crossfire, defend, ambush, etc. One can, of course, order them to use particular weapons such as close combat knives, rifles, satchel charges for demolition, pistols, a shot fired by the squad's sniper, or thrown grenades. When choosing an aimpoint to throw a grenade, a dynamically adjustable moving arc appears, to show what trajectory it will follow.
There are nine different non-linear missions to play, with the option of two instant action missions for each stage, and the story is told with pre-rendered cut-scenes.