Zipper Interactive returns, with the April 19th launch of SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs. Many of the franchises original fans are panicking over whether or not Zipper can deliver what they had delivered 9 years ago, a truely unique, competitive online shooter. Forget the campaign, the players wanted the online experience. The multiplayer for the original SOCOM games was addicting, breathtaking, fun, and very competitive. The maps were large, and very unique. Remember – that was in SOCOM 2. Now we’re onto the next installment in the books, SOCOM 4.
SOCOM 4 also supports the fairly-new PS Move support with the Sharpshooter Gun Peripheral. The Sharpshooter, and all the PS Move components are included in the Full Deployment Edition, which is priced at $149.99 – a steal in my books. Anyway, the peripheral itself, is really fun. The learning curve on it, for me at least, was extremely steep. I’m only two days in, and I can already foresee myself having to use this for at least another week or two to be even the slightest bit dangerous with it – while two of my friends picked it up and played with it fairly easily. Overall for the sharpshooter – I’d say definitely try it, as long as you’re willing to stick to it. If it doesn’t fit with you personally, it will always be available on both Resistance 3, Killzone 3, and you can only assume many more shooters over the next few years.
Campaign mode gets boring fast. You’re supposed to go to each objective marker, kill a few guys, move to the next objective marker, watch cutscene, rinse, and repeat. It’s a method of delivering a boring story that doesn’t even feel like I’m playing, or controlling what is happening. It feels entirely scripted. While I only spent around two hours playing the campaign mode, it wasn’t nearly as fun of a campaign as I’ve seen in other third person games, like Rainbow Six, Gears of War, or Uncharted even. This is the type of game where you pick it up, play the campaign to get used to the overall feel of the game, than you just ditch it and go play multiplayer.
SOCOM 4 really does deliver that competitive multiplayer that some gamers are craving, but it lacks in the out-of-game functionality. While joining a friends game is possible, joining a friends party is not. The party system is simply not there. Zipper claims “it wasn’t ready” for the launch date of the game, and they will be patching it “in Late April/Early May” – it really takes away from the overall “wow” factor of the game. After all, multiplayer is meant to be played with who you want to play with, right? Aside from the lack of a party system, the game delivers on all fronts. The few guys of Pernicious Intent who have been playing this game, have yet to experience lag, server errors, or any sign of game-breaking issues.
As for the actual gameplay of SOCOM 4, it is extremely smooth, the character moves very realistic, the guns simulate that of a real rifle, the recoil is not as exaggerated as games such as Call of Duty, but you still need to know how to control your fire and your weapon, as all of them are fairly different. New to SOCOM 4 is the “cover” system. In previous SOCOM titles, there was a lean feature, where you could lean around corners, or prone and lean around a bump in the terrain, but Zipper tossed that mechanism and instead replaced it with a simple, yet perfectly executed cover system. It’s user friendly, just commanding the user to press the circle button to snap in, and either move their joystick away from cover, or press circle again to snap out. Users can lean out of cover, duck in cover, and, saving the best for last – DIVE into cover – similar in fashion to Call of Duty: Black Ops’ “dolphin dive” feature, but perfected to fit in the game of SOCOM 4.
My only overall peeve of the gameplay is probably the map design. The maps are beautiful, but in todays gaming world, anyone can make something pretty, it’s all about deliver on the playability factor on map design. In SOCOM 4, a lot of the maps are linear, almost seeming like it is only half a map, than mirrored onto the other side. While some maps have their own fluidity, there are more maps that are mirror images, almost cut right down the center of the map. Although the game shipped with 9 multiplayer maps, and 1 extra for pre-orders, it’s not something that really takes away from the overall quality of the game, but it’s something that they could have taken an extra but of time on.
Overall, I would give this game an 8 out of 10, as it did deliver a lot of what I expected to see in a SOCOM game, but lacked in delivering that easy-to-connect party system at the launch of the game.