The Socom series has forever been known for being very tactical whether you’re ordering around your fellow teammates, or just making sure you plan out an effective strategy to take down the enemy. Lately though it’s been feeling like the series just couldn’t be revived from its former glory. If you’re wondering whether Socom 4 is the next best installment in the series, and is for you, then you won’t want to miss what’s coming your way.
The Socom Team is back, except with a 5 man team (and the exception of one woman) fighting a war in South East Asia. This time around we get to see a whole new take on the series with 5 player Co-op, customizable missions, exciting and tactical online play, Move Sharpshooter, and its 3D support. It’s a whole new ball game for this franchise and it has the highest of expectations to be better than the rest of the old and the new generation titles.
Socom 4’s story does have some interesting and exciting moments but not really enough to justify itself entirely. You play as a soldier known as Collin Grey who commands a 5 member NATO special forces squad out to battle a revolutionary force called the Naga. Even though the story is partly told by the character you play as, you will find that it also focuses a lot around another member of your own team. She is a sniper who’s codename is Forty-Five, and you will end up playing as her in a set of new solo stealth missions added to the campaign. So without spoiling anything for you, all you really need to know is your team is sent out to figure out all the unanswered questions, but most importantly complete their mission at all costs. Your journey stay’s focused in South East Asia and will carry you into a few different environments to traverse. On the negative side it does feels very linear and doesn’t have that sense of exploration, tattics and stealth as seen in previous Socom titles. Still, you will have some very challenging battles ahead of you with AI that constantly try to flank you and pressure you into cover. This is where the good use of your AI teammates will come into play and allow you to work like an effective team in all situations. Everything about the campaign was halfway decent, and one of the only things that really disappointed me was the fact that you couldn’t save at checkpoints during a mission. You can probably understand how this would be a problem if you can’t get through a certain part and you end up starting over the entire mission, just because you had to leave. In terms of Campaign length you will probably spend a good 8 hours or less, which depends all on the difficulty and how familiar you are to the controls. In all fairness, this is a very different game that offers its own unique SOCOM experience to be had within the story. If anything the story familiarizes you with the game to set you up for the real battle, online.
Besides the story Socom 4 offers a full range of competitive and cooperative modes to play with your buddies. For the first time ever you’re able to play with up to 5 friends cooperatively in custom game modes. You can customize your mission from difficulty, to the amount of enemies you will be facing depending on the kind of challenge you’re looking for. Mission wise, you can expect a couple different objectives ranging from infiltrating a base to hunt down and eliminate a target to other things. You can expect that every mission you play with your buddies will feel like a different experience almost every time you play. If you you want to get serious then you can take it up with the 32 player online multi-player, where you can get down to business. There is plenty for you to do, with 9 types of game mode variants to choose from such as:
- Suppression (Small Maps)
- Bomb Squad (Attack and Defend with bomb diffusion)
- Uplink (Capture the Flag)
- Last Defense (Capture and Hold)
- Medley (Mixture of Game Modes)
- Medley (Small Maps)
- Abandoned (DLC)
- Custom Game Types
Now with all these game modes to choose from and all their variations, you will also be able to choose from playing in standard mode or classic mode which doesn’t allow re-spawning. Classic mode is definitely for those who have had a little more experience with the game and are looking for even more of a challenge. One more thing not to forget is the clan system set up for you in the multiplayer, which even helps you search out for some real clan matches. Also you don’t want to forget that everything you do online goes towards your career stats, making sure you can easily keep track of everything you accomplish. So now that you have heard all the good news, pretty much the only problem I had with the multiplayer was the fact that a party up system was missing. Now from what I heard though we should be seeing a party system being added in later in June.
When it comes down to the look of the game, I don’t think a Socom game has ever looked better. Graphic wise everything looks very well polished and I don’t think there’s much to complain about in terms of look. If you had to compare its graphics to other next-gen titles, I would probably say its better than most but not quite as extensive looking as game like Killzone 3. Another thing I noticed was the animations weren’t completely on par with character voices part of the time. If you like special effects, than from explosions to gunfire, it all looks pretty darn good. There is even quite a bit of destructible environment pieces for you to put a hole through if the situation calls for it. The only problem I found with environmental effects is the fact that when I shot at glass windows with my gun, they didn’t immediately break like you would see in some other games. It almost made me think that somehow they were bulletproof…at least for the first few 100 shots. The environments you encounter also do well to camouflage yourself from enemy sight and that’s certainly telling you something about the graphics. Also by utilizing the shadowy parts of an area, you can really get the jump on someone. And if any of that doesn’t satisfy you then, you could always try out the 3D with the game and see if that makes the experience feel any better than it already it is.
If you want to talk about sound, then you will be glad to know that the sounds are very well perfected. Especially if you like the sound of a melon getting splattered every time you get a headshot. Sound is usually very important when it comes to hearing enemy footsteps or gunfire in different directions around you, and this game does well at giving you a good sense of direction just from the sound itself. Another great thing about this game is its soundtrack, which immediately I loved every bit of it. The orchestrated music really hypes up every moment you experience and is just outstanding. The voices of characters were excellent and you are able to get a good sense of emotion from their voices.
The gameplay probably is the best part about the new Socom, and it definitely feels like a solid piece of work without any sort of imbalance. In the Single player you have the ability to direct your AI squad with the simple push of a button, which is all part of being a good leader. This goes hand in hand whether you’re playing with your buddies cooperatively or competitively online. Having the ability to communicate is essential for all situations and that has always been the Socom way. To a certain extent you can run and gun, but it’s always better to be cautious and mindful of your surroundings in a game like this. Now it may seem like this gives players a good reason to camp, but really its all about the tactical gameplay. You can take cover pretty nicely on most things, and use that to your advantage however you see fit. The cover system stays true to its roots, with some interesting ways to maneuver around cover and shoot your target. You also have the ability to dive into cover, which really comes in handy in those tight situations. The gameplay really does feel fast paced in a lot of situations in others it’s a waiting game, but really it’s just how you decide to go about things. There is a variety of ways to go about certain situations defending or attacking, using the right weapons and gear at hand. I even noticed that in certain maps you can pick up a rocket launcher somewhere, which can probably be a game changer if used correctly. One thing is for sure though; you will probably see a big war going on wherever it spawns.
You can’t complain with so much to do, the only thing you’ll need is time. There is plenty of replay value left over especially if you decide to go trophy hunting. If not then just hop online and start playing with friends in 5 players Co-op or get Competitive in multiplayer. Socom 4 is sure to keep you busy for a good long time if you decide you really want to get into it.
My final judgement is that Socom 4 won’t disappoint the hardcore gamer, it won’t even disappoint the fellow casual gamer if they don’t mind trying it out. I think Zipper Interactive has created a title worthy to have the name Socom. I’m sure fans would be proud of this game and if not for the single player, then mostly for its action packed thrill ride of the multiplayer. So if you haven’t got a chance to try it out yet, I recommend you do, because as far as I’m concerned it is a success.