SOCOM is one of my favorite PlayStation franchises, and I had the pleasure of playing the first console title in the series since SOCOM 2 to be created by Zipper Interactive. SOCOM is a series known for its deep tactical ramifications and realistic militaristic atmosphere. Does SOCOM 4 look to bring the series back to it’s roots, or might it just be another disappointing title for the series?
The demo opens with an insurgent attack on what appears to be your usual third world, war-torn country. Nothing unusual to any fan of the series. Your small unit consisting of yourself and four other soldiers are divided into 2 squads of fire teams. You have control over your squads much in the same way of previous installments. Point, command, execute. The firing controls are more precise when using the PlayStation Move; if you shake or tremble you will miss the shot. Having a dynamic enemy AI, encounters will be slightly different each time you run through a level and as a result, teammates are essential to mission victory. In addition to being able to command your teammates to individual objectives, you’ll be able to chain together assault patterns simply by pointing to the screen and then holding the appropriate direction on the D pad at the same time. Very much like SOCOM Tactical Strike for PSP, which was one of the game’s best features.
Planned and combined attacks will not only allow you to experience multiple outcomes for each scenario, but keep your situational awareness at a high. Having a well planned overwatch position will only improve your overall gameplay, Also new to the series are the air strikes, one of several assets that will be available in the full version. To launch an air strike, you just point at the target and paint the area for bombardment. A few seconds later, the air strike obliterates the target area. Infinite air strikes were available to us in the E3 demo, but producers told me that there will be different types of these military assets available to you and they will not be unlimited in the retail title.
There were a few things that I found that I was disappointing with. First was the fact that I called in an airstrike on my team times just to see what would happen and, well, we all lived. I am not a fan of team killing but in a realistic game such as SOCOM it would be nice to see team-killing enabled. I later spoke with the development team to find out this function had been turned off for the demo but will also be available in the full release. Lastly the team AI did not seem to function fully in a certain area, right before you call in an airstrike on the last gun installment, I took a high ground approach on the upper left balcony before the right descending stairs. I would crouch to scope insurgents and have a nice view of the field of operations but for some reason my teammates kept crouching in front of me. No matter how many times I repositioned myself. I finally stood up, called in an airstrike, took a couple of rounds for doing so and beat feet downstairs to clear the floor and end the demo. All in all minor hiccups in a amazing demo for a long-awaited title.
With new enemy AI, superb graphics, combining staples of the series with new assets this will not only be a must have for SOCOM fans and shooter fans in general, but gamers looking for a tactical online experience will be surprised at what SOCOM 4 has to offer.