SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs
: Zipper Interactive
: Sony Computer Entertainment
: Playstation 3
: Third-person shooter
: April 19, 2011
SOCOM returns for a fourth installment. The story requires you to take command of a special operations group tasked with carrying out various missions. Multiplayer for SOCOM 4 has also been refined. Read the review for details on this game.
The story of SOCOM 4 has you play as NATO squad commander, Cullen Gray, who takes it to the heat of battle with his group of trained soldiers. Gray and company are located in the heart of Malaysia, and Gray has been given orders to assist in the evacuation of fellow soldiers, but soon this plan takes a turn for the worst. Gray and his partners Schweitzer and Wells witness their helicopter get shot down, which leaves them stranded within a combat zone. They soon come across two South Korean allies, Chung and Forty-Five. Forty-Five has quite the attitude, embracing the fact that she’s a gifted and stealthy soldier, a fact she’ll put to the test from time to time. At first she’s not for the idea that she sticks with a small group, believing they’ll be killed around the next corner, but she soon realizes there’s no other alternative, and so she decides to lend her services to the newly formed team.
SOCOM 4 is a six-day journey for survival and deadly action. Along the way, this team of soldiers will combat mercenaries, called “ClawHammer”, as well as a band of Korean rebels who call themselves the “Naga”. Gray’s new squad will have to cooperate together to get their mission done. Get ready to lead them into battle.
The Playstation 3 is just about six years old now, and we’ve seen some impressive visual displays in its lifespan. SOCOM 4 also delivers in the graphics department. The characters in the game look pretty good, and the same can be said about the environments you explore. Yet if you’re the type of gamer who enjoys seeing more locations than your typical jungle, local villages, or ravaged cities, you won’t find that in SOCOM 4. Because the story is limited to a six-day progression, that means you won’t be going planet hopping anytime soon. Still, it looks good on your HDTV. If you’re sporting a 3D TV then you’re definitely in for a real treat. Should make up for the limited environments, but that’s if you do have one, right?
Do gamers listen out for a shooter game’s sound effects? I sure do. I love it when guns sound powerful, and not like you’re wielding a paint ball gun in battle. SOCOM 4 sounds good. The weapon sound effects are spot on, and it really adds to that feeling that you’re playing with power. Heck, you’ll know you’ve got a headshot on your enemy if you hear the eerie squish after firing a few rounds. Explosions sound threatening, making you want to duck for cover each time you hear it. You should know that you’ll want to rely on sound effects for gameplay. During stealth missions you’re going to want to listen for the crunch of grass, or the crackle of gravel beneath your enemy’s shoes, which indicates their proximity to your location. When sounds grow closer, you’ll want to stay put, and when they fade away you’ll know it’s time to scurry on to another hiding spot before you’re seen by the enemy.
The game’s voice acting is good too, for the most part. You won’t find yourselves too attached to the characters through their voice acting, but they do a good job keeping you entertained as the mission continues.
Unless you’re new to the SOCOM franchise, then you’ll possibly want another game to compare it to, and if you game on the PS3, then SOCOM 4 handles like the Uncharted games. The controls are easy to pick up and don’t require much practice to get into the swing of things. What’s cool is that you have three options to control the game, well only if you use Playstation Move that is. You can use the standard PS3 controller, the Move controller and Wand, or place the Move controller and Wand into the Sharp Shooter gun peripheral. I had a little difficultly with the Sharp Shooter, possibly due to the space I had in my setup, but it was still fun nonetheless. It’ll take some getting used to, but it feels great to aim down the sight at your target like you really would in an actual battle. The Move controller and Wand is great if you like the speed and accuracy of a PC mouse, so targeting your enemies is just a matter of pointing at the screen and shooting.
Being a squad based game, and you taking the role of the squad leader, you’ll have to use stealth, and at times, careful execution of orders. These orders include attacking, taking cover, and so on. You’ll have two separate squad mates to control, which can make for some interesting battle possibilities. The enemy AI won’t be much of a handful on the lower difficulties, allowing you to clear an area with ease, but you’ll find a real challenge with the hard difficulty. Should your squad mates take a lot of fire, they’ll drop into a prone stance, requiring you to revive them in order for them to continue being help. What bugged me is that your partners can’t do the same for you when you’re gunned down, forcing you to restart from the nearest checkpoint. It shouldn’t be too much of a worry. In fact, your squad does a good job of taking out the enemy AI, too good at times actually, so you’ll find yourself wanting more enemies to take down, but the game does a good job of piling enemies up at times. The stealth missions are fun, of which you’ll be taking control of Forty-Five, and you’ll want to play stealthy; otherwise drawing attention to yourself will result in a whole base of enemies coming after you without friendly support. It’s a death sentence avoiding stealth tactics.
One of the issues I had with the single player was the camera. This was especially a concern for the stealth missions. At times the camera would zoom in too much and would cut off my field of vision, making it hard to see oncoming enemies. I would have to stop in place in order to allow the camera to “catch up” before I could continue. It was annoying at times, but at least it doesn’t plague the entire game.
Zipper Interactive, as you may know, released the SOCOM 4 multiplayer beta before the game’s release. Gamers had the opportunity to play and offer critique on the game for modification before its final release date. The result was a polished and entertaining multiplayer. This multiplayer is ranked based, allowing you to choose from a variety of weapon classes (assault rifles, sub machine guns, sniper rifles, etc) and you can modify these weapons to your liking by equipping them with silencers, precision sights and the like.
There are a few multiplayer mode options to choose from, but first it should be noted that there are two sets of rules you can choose from. There are, for lack of a better term, new rules, and then there are classic rules. New rules allow players to respawn frequently after death, typical for shooters these days, while classic rules make respawning limited, requiring you to think before you pull the trigger. Now the modes you’ll have to choose from include a standard team death match (Suppression), a capture the flag like game (Uplink), and Bomb Squad, where a single member of the team is tasked with delivering a bomb to detonate at three bomb sites, while other members of the team provide distraction. What’s cool is that the player handling the bomb is outfitted with special armor, making them harder to take down. While there are few multiplayer options to choose from, the games themselves can last for up to twenty minutes, with large teams on each side. The multiplayer is great fun and it gives SOCOM 4 its replay value.
The single player story make clock in a quite short six or so hours, which can be disappointing depending on how fast you progress, but SOCOM 4 also has a cooperative multiplayer mode where four players in total can play together through another set of missions that’s practically the same as the single player story. It’s just like having another separate campaign to play, which is cool, but only if you have a group of cooperative players to shoot it out with.
SOCOM 4 has been given a variety of reviews. Some hate it and some love it. The real scrutiny the game’s been given is that it departs from what SOCOM originally is, and how it played on the last generation, with people disappointed that these factors didn’t carry over into this new installment. Oh, brother people, cry me a river. Had the game been given a name other than SOCOM maybe then there wouldn’t be so much complaining and a little more praise. What we have here is a solid game, not amazing, but it’s a great game. SOCOM 4 has its issues and bugs, but it’s still quite fun and the online is where I’m having a great time. It looks great, it sounds great, it plays great, and that’s all quite good. Whether you think the full price is worth picking it up is your call, but hopefully SOCOM 4 makes it to your shelf. Enjoy the game if you do!