Two thousand eleven is the year Zipper Interactive will bring Playstation 3 users back to the franchise that made them, that franchise is Socom: US Navy Seals. Zipper is coming off of the release of their first non Socom game, MAG, since 2000. While MAG didn’t leave store shelves bare and retailers wanting more and more, the game was solid and had a decent fan base. But Zipper is counting on Socom 4 to satisfy the starved, large Socom fan-base, that have been wanting a Socom game from them since 2006.
To be frank, Socom 4′s single player has its moments, but its pretty standard third person shooter stuff. You will run, you will shoot, all which is to be expected. There are some stealth missions that you will have to pull off while gathering intel from your enemy. They are not bad and they are surely put in the game to give players a break from the all out shooting, cover, shooting, cover, grenade toss, shooting, redundant game play of Socom 4′s single player. But what is disappointing about the single player to me is the story. Its pretty flat and didn’t emotionally involve me, or left me wanting more. To be fair the single player does introduce a new squad mechanic, making a bit of a difference in Socom, compared to earlier versions. This change also, didn’t anything for me, it was more of I have to deal with these A.I. companions more than cool I have some backup. Also something that is definitely a turn in the series is the new cover mechanic, this works well but also seems to be added for the sake that most modern third person shooters have cover systems and nothing more. I could do with or without it but it is sure to piss some people off.
The real meat of the Socom franchise is its online multiplayer. Almost every person I know that loves the Socom series loves it because of its online. It was probably their first shooter they played online on their PS2′s, and since then have been loyal to zipper and the franchise. And since Zipper is now taking control of the franchise once again, people have high hopes. Socom 4′s online multiplayer has its ups and downs, first I will touch on the game play. To me the controls are fine and the game play is just fine online. Some people will not agree but they have the right not too. You might get some lag but to be honest what online game doesn’t. The game modes are cool, my favorite being Bomb Squad. In which one team attempts to blow up the “crates” that are on the map, and one team is defending the “crates”. The unique thing about this mode is that only one player on the offensive team can arm the bombs. He is the designated Bomb Tech and is equipped with bomb suit that has more armor than the other players, and he also uses a automatic shotgun and grenade launcher.
I do find Socom 4 to be an enjoyable online third person shooter. And it does have something for everyone, it has its more “Hardcore” game modes which is more of the classic style games with one life rounds and a higher damage ratings. It also has its more “casual” game modes that include regenerating health and re-spawns. All game types can be played either in their hardcore and casual game modes. That doesn’t mean Socom 4 is perfect, that it is not. I wish they kept the old sever style way to find games over the new quick match style. It made for finding games easy to me, and it also made getting into ranked games with up to 12 people or so easy. I have a hard time with the voice chat at times, weather its people not hearing me or not being able to talk when I need to call enemies out. For the most part I like the maps but there are a few I really don’t like. One big complaint I have is when in a party, you can do voice chat. But if you go and try to find a game if you are not successful and back out to the main screen, your party losses the ability to voice chat. This is annoying and should have been fixed by now or even not happened at all.
Something the Socom series hasn’t had on consoles since Combine Assault in 2006 is co-op. But it shows up in Socom 4, the co-op puts you in single player stages but adds different objectives. One objective is to eliminate a high priority target, you will do so after fighting threw a lot of enemy fodder. The other objective is to collect enemy intel and finish off the level by destroying their operation headquarters. The co-op can be very fun, and allows players to revive one another if their teammate gets put on the ground.
Socom 4 is a solid third person shooter. It isn’t the best and it has flaws, but its still a good game that people wanting something different from the norm should at least rent. I like the game and play it now and then but it also doesn’t have the magic the franchise once had. Zipper did a fine job keeping the Socom franchise out of the gutter, but it also didn’t really polish it either.