GDC Preview: SOCOM 4

With many of us reeling from the after-effects and trauma of SOCOM: Confrontation, in steps Zipper Interactive to save the day with SOCOM 4. After a stop off at MAG, the team is back at work on the series they made famous and this is a great thing for any shooter fan out there as I am here to say that SOCOM 4 is legit. I recently sat down with the shooter at this years Game Developers Conference and came away feeling like I had just been in the thick of battle. For those unsure of what that means, let me elaborate.

From the very beginning of my time with SOCOM 4 I was made very aware of the fact that it is a hardcore, tactical shooter that was not going to allow me to run around and gun at my leisure. SOCOM 4 is the very definition of a shooter that will make you run for cover, coming out only to take a few shots and then move to your next bit of cover. In other words, the title makes your blood rush and kicks your survival instincts into gear. I got a chance to hop online to play against fellow gamers in the room, and while my score was respectable, I had a lot of room to improve.

One major game mode included is Bomb Squad, where the mission of one team is to protect planted bombs, and the other team to disable the bombs (a la Counter-Strike). The team trying to disable were designated a player to be the bomb expert, and it was his job to make it to the bombs and disable them while receiving cover from teammates. This mode forced a lot of cooperation on both sides as each mapped had multiple bomb locations and only gave you a 10 minute time to try and accomplish your task. Even better about this mode was after the bomb expert died, it was switched to new person, meaning you weren’t stuck as that role the whole game.

All the maps felt very fleshed out with plenty of great spots to setup shop with your sniper rifle or sting unsuspecting enemies who crossed your path. The maps varied in sizes and each presented new challenges to me and forced everyone to adopt new tactics with each map change. The layout of the maps also do a great job of forcing you to cover while also keeping you moving to find new spots. It is a good balance that works great in the game and gives us a shooter that deals much more with how smart you think of your next move rather than your brute firepower.

Another strong aspect of the demo were the guns, which all felt great to use, sounded awesome, and each presented different options for you like rate of fire. Not all of the guns were shown in the demo, but the selection of five or six were more than enough to get a feel for them. Guns in the game can be leveled up by using them. The more you use the gun and rack up kills with it, the more unlocks you will gain for it. These unlocks will not make your gun overpowered, but instead provide good tweaks to help you the shooter.

I sadly did not get a lot of time with the single player demo found in the PlayStation Lounge, but from what I did play, you can expect the same amount of detail and polish from the multiplayer to be found in the single player mission. The missions have a fair amount of depth to them, and present you with a lot of challenges when trying to complete each mission. The firing in the single player is helped by the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter add-on which adds a lot of response and immersion to the single player, making you feel like you are out on the battlefield as one of the elite soldiers.

SOCOM 4 will feature a beta before the game’s release, and it will go in stages, starting as a private beta on March 15 before moving to PlayStation Plus subscribers on the 22nd. A week after that will see those who bought Killzone 3 added to the mix, and finally on April 5th everyone will have the ability to download it off the PlayStation Store. SOCOM 4 is set for release April 19th, look for our review close to the release date and until then, get ready for war soldier.