|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Slant Six||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 32 (Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Online play is split into channels, which are labeled by zone. Once inside a zone, you can create or join a game. There's no matchmaking, so you've got to carefully go over match descriptions or you'll find yourself in a formidable situation. Also, Slant Six made a weird decision about match exits. Instead of popping you back in the game lobby or respective channel, quitting a match throws you back to the main game menu and by the time you find the right channel again, it may be full.
Gripes aside, online play is very rewarding. SOCOM has never been a game that honors shoot-from-the-hip players. In fact, running and shooting is a bad tactical combo. You can sprint, but you have to stop and ready your weapon before you can fire. This encourages players to think before each move instead of haphazardly running around a map. Also, there's the group dynamic if you don't coordinate with your team, you won't last long. Teams that work together stay alive together. By planning out choke points and moving in small packs, an efficient team can move across a map with grace, something not seen in many shooters.
Not only does the way Confrontation play fuel coordination, but so do its modes and maps. Demolition has you either planting a bomb inside an enemy base or defusing it before a timer runs out. Control mode puts a series of capture points on a map, but, unlike many Battlefield-esque games that require you to control the point, all you have to do is perform the initial capture and move to the next point. By not having a constant back-and-forth, it makes each cap all the more punishing and rewards a well-thought out defense.
Extraction a simple hold or rescue the hostage mode also stands out. By allowing the mercenary side to issue follow-orders to hostages, it changes the flow of play. You may start out a match on the mercenary side with all your hostages in one big room that has three points of entry not a great defensive position. However, you can shepherd the hostages to an area like an elevated, closed room with only one entrance effectively giving you a prime choke point for when the commandos attempt their rescue. All of a sudden, you've turned what was a defensive game into more of an offensive gambit. Not a bad way to turn the tables.
Confrontation may only have seven maps, but they're all incredibly well thought out. For example, Crossroads (a remake from a previous SOCOM game) has a series of connected rooftops and narrow alleyways juxtaposed by open market squares. Quarantine features an abandoned lab littered with crumbling catwalks and tight corridors. Urban Wasteland a bombed downtown area has underground sewer passages, shattered parking decks (providing excellent sniper spots), and mountains of debris, making for plenty of cover when moving from point-to-point.
The biggest benefit SOCOM receives from jumping to the PlayStation 3 is the draw distance. Past games had graphical fog that obstructed your view. Now you can literally see across the entire map. This clarity comes at a price: you'll see low-res textures pasted to walls and occasionally encounter graphical glitches; on one occasion all the walls on a side of the map disappeared, revealing a vast expanse of nothingness in the distance. The audio is impressive for its attention to environmental detail. If a gun fires in a tunnel, it lets out a proper echo, whereas if it's fired in a padded room, the sound is muffled. Also, gunfire is positional, so you can tell if someone is firing from close by or tucked back in the distance.
SOCOM has always catered to the hardcore and Confrontation is no different in this regard. Slant Six has done an admirable job updating the formula of past games, but the decision to wipe the single-player slate clean and the copious amounts of bugs are standout problems.
CCC Freelance Writer