SOCOM is back!
September 15, 2008 – Like many people, I have been content these past few years with the SOCOM franchise. The most recent iterations on the PSP were quite good and featured some fun multiplayer options as well as different single-player modes. However, as much as the single-player campaign modes may have been appreciated in past titles, SOCOM’s selling point has always been its online functionality. Luckily, the online modes that made SOCOM such a hit on the PlayStation 2 and the PSP are going to be the sole focus of the newest entry in the SOCOM franchise, SOCOM: Confrontation.
SOCOM: Confrontation is going to be quite different from its predecessors because it is going to be online multiplayer only. Past SOCOM games have had rather forgettable single player modes, so the decision to focus solely on the multiplayer aspect is definitely welcome. There will be much more to customize and unlock in Confrontation, and a very deep clan system will be implemented to keep you coming back for more.
We recently got some hands-on time with the SOCOM public beta, and despite some initial issues, the game is coming along quite well. One of the best features of the game that we were able to experience was the character and weapon customization. Although you have the option to jump right in and start playing, it is much more satisfying to customize your character and weapons before heading into battle. You will be able to customize both a Mercenary and SEALS character in the beta, and each will have access to different customization options. As far as looks are concerned, you can select different face styles, body structures, and uniform pattern and color. After you’re done fine-tuning your individual look, you will be able to customize your character’s weapons.
The weapon customization is very straightforward, and you will have several different choices right from the beginning. Your primary weapon choices will include a plethora of assault weapons such as M4s as well as other heavy weaponry options like RPGs. The weapons you will have access to will depend upon your faction affiliation. For example, the Mercenary faction will have access to AK-47s and M16s, while the SEALS faction will have access to a variety of M4s. While most of the weapons are different for each faction, they do have a few shared weapons including RPGs and M60s.
Once you pick your weapon, there are two customization slots that will allow you to mod your weapon with different scopes and silencers. There aren’t too many customization options in the beta, but there are definitely enough to keep you engaged for quite some time. Swapping different guns and changing stats with the different add-ons is tremendous fun, and tinkering with your weapon will yield some noticeable results in-game. There is a perceptible difference in the way weapons and accessories handle in-game, and it is easy to sink several hours into finding that perfect weapon combination.
The map featured in the beta, Crossroads, might actually be recognizable to fans of the series, as it was originally featured in SOCOM II, and has been touted as the most popular SOCOM map of all time. The map is scalable depending on your match settings and can be resized to fit 8, 16, and 32-player matches. The map itself is quite complex and has lots of buildings, alleyways, and ceilings to explore. After playing a while, you’ll be able to find where all the good hiding and sniping spots are, and getting those headshots in will be a lot easier.
However, despite all the features, there is one big issue in the SOCOM: Confrontation beta that definitely bears mentioning: the lag. The lag is very infrequent, but when it strikes, this thing is deadly. There are moments when your movement is completely arrested and you’ll find yourself completely powerless in the face of enemy fire. However, this looks to be a temporary issue, as you’ll receive a notice at the beginning of the beta saying that the SOCOM development team knows the lag is a problem and they are hard at work fixing it.
The visuals in the beta are very sharp. Characters and environmental elements sport a nice level of detail, and while there are a few bugs (for instance, the floor will keep changing after you die) the visuals are still very nice on the whole. Aside from these inconsistencies, however, most of the game’s physics work well. The ballistics engine has been revamped, which means bullet holes will be more accurate, and you’ll be able to see the damage you inflict in a greater amount of detail. However, there are a few complaints as to the consistency of the physics. For example, one of my chief annoyances was that picnic tables on the ceiling as well as trees in the environment are indestructible, yet certain buildings can be taken down with an RPG. Hopefully, these inconsistencies will be cleared up in the final version.
The final release of the game will see many more features, at least six new maps, and tons of customization options. There will also be deep-rooted clan support, with the official website providing a forum to organize and communicate with your clan. There will also be five Special Forces units that you will be able to play as in the final game, including the German KSK and the Spanish UOE.
SOCOM: Confrontation is certainly looking good at this point. The only real issue here seems to be the lag, and since the development team has said explicitly that they are working to resolve this issue, I wouldn’t count on it as being that big of a problem in the final release. The focus on the multiplayer aspect certainly feels like it will be a homecoming for the SOCOM franchise on the current generation of consoles. SOCOM: Confrontation is scheduled to hit both store shelves and the PlayStation Network in October, so we won’t have to wait too long before we get our hands on the full experience.
SOCOM makes its move to the PS3 with the first online-only installment in the franchise
June 7, 2007 – Sony has finally announced that one of the most enduring franchises of the PS2 era is making the much anticipated move to the PlayStation 3, and with this change in systems comes a number of other significant changes. The most significant change of all is the complete lack of a single player campaign. That’s right kiddies, SOCOM’s going online exclusive. Another significant change is that Vancouver-based development newcomer Slant Six will be taking the reigns from Zipper Interactive, the developers of all of the previous SOCOM titles.
Another big announcement is that SOCOM three will follow suit with the forthcoming Warhawk and offer a fully downloadable version of the game. Disc junkies need not worry though; the game will also be released on a shiny blu-ray retail package. Sony’s press department is remaining tight lipped on what this may mean for Confrontation’s gameplay and content and on whether the downloadable and retail versions will launch simultaneously.
The only officially released trailer uses a decidedly Middle Eastern backdrop for a fire fight between Special Forces soldiers and what appear to be local militants clad in ski masks and nondescript fatigues. The action appears to be on par with what we’ve all come to expect from the franchise with both sides running through the streets to take cover behind cars and in doorways, taking up strategic firing positions on balconies and rooftops, and trading fire with assault rifles and the occasional rocket-propelled grenade. Though all of the trailer’s footage appears to be in-game, there’s no actual gameplay footage. This means at this point and time there’s no information on the nuts-and-bolts of gameplay.
There are a lot of details Sony hasn’t yet revealed, preferring instead to wait until E3 next month. Sony has announced that the game will be featuring special forces groups from around the world though we’re unsure which countries will be included as of yet. Players will be able to customize their characters facial features and clans will have the option to trick out their uniforms to give themselves one-of-a-kind appearances. Sony also plans to have extensive support for the game including tournaments, clan ladders and for-pay content including new game modes, Special Forces, and weapons, among other things all available from the PlayStation Network Store.
All in all the game appears to be moving in a positive direction from the look of the trailer so expect a full disclosure and a lot more information available after E3 in July.