|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|
a Few More Patches
by Jason Lauritzen
SOCOM is hardcore. There's no getting around it. The series debuting back on the PlayStation 2 was the poster child for Sony online play; many consumers picked up network adapters to play the SOCOM series and nothing else. If one was outside looking in, it was initially hard to get the appeal of the series. Yet devotees knew where its strength lay: a focus on team play that locked out run-and-gun mavericks, and map design with such meticulous attention to detail that each virtual acre mattered.
When word came that the series originator Zipper Interactive was jumping off the development wagon and turning responsibility over to the newer, Slant Six Games, SOCOM fans' eyebrows twitched in unison. The sophomore developer had previously only handled two SOCOM games on the PSP. Did Slant Six do the series justice? For the most part, yes, but some design decisions and nagging bugs make for a game that's more of an extended beta than a proper release. Nevertheless, SOCOM has made the next logical jump and now is available for your PlayStation 3 (either via disc or as a PSN download).
Let's get some install details and bug talk out of the way. Those picking up the disc version of SOCOM will have to sit through a 20-minute install to move over the 2.7 gigs of necessary game data. Normally that wouldn't be a terrible proposition, but there's also a 470 megabyte patch (which moves the game up to version 1.10) to download and install. Even after that, all is not said and done. Gamers may end up with corrupted data (even though they haven't played yet) and have to delete profile data to properly start.
Don't assume that the current patch will guarantee smooth play. We made sure to play on public servers so we could deliver an evenhanded review of net play and, even after the patch, it's very hit-or-miss. Network initialization errors were encountered quite often this resulted in no play whatsoever. Stat tracking broke and match join times ranged anywhere from a modest 20 seconds to well over a minute. The game also froze on multiple occasions, requiring reboots.
Before getting into action, you can customize the two default classes: commandos and mercenaries (special classes are only available to clan players). You can change the default head profile and put a backward cap on your mercenary, but character tailoring is more about function than style. Camo profiles for three settings desert, night, and urban can be saved, giving you a set of outfits for the right occasion. Body armor is split up into two areas: torso and legs. Since you have three profiles to chose from light, medium, and heavy you can deck yourself out in all heavy gear or mix-and-match, throwing heavy armor on your torso and a lighter set on your legs, so you still have a decent degree of mobility.
Personalizing your weapon payload is important. You have two weapons slots: a primary and secondary one. The primary includes assault rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, machine guns, and sniper rifles. Secondary guns are limited to handguns. There's also two gear slots that can hold everything from M67 frag grenades and ANM8 White Smoke to C4 and Claymore mines. To top it all off, you can add scopes, laser sights, and bipods to many primary weapons. These gear profiles can be saved, should you need to swap on-the-fly during multiplayer matches.
So, say you've got your customized character and this is your first SOCOM game. Naturally, you look for a tutorial or some kind of single-player campaign so you can learn the ropes instead of going into a multiplayer baptism by fire. Here's your problem: Confrontation contains no single-player or tutorial mode (this could be patched in later Warhawk, for example, now includes a tutorial it didn't have at launch). For the hardcore, this may not be a concern, but for beginners, this is an acceptable complaint. There's no explanation of what the eight game modes mean you've just got to jump online and hope to pick up the fundamentals along the way. This sink-or-swim mentality may discourage a lot of gamers from trying out Confrontation.