SOCOM 4 Beta Impressions

This article was pitched and submitted by Phillip Costigan (nemesisND1derboy).

For those of you who haven’t heard, SOCOM 4, or SOCOM: Special Forces in Europe, is the fourth main entry in Zipper Interactive’s third-person shooter series and is exclusive to the PlayStation 3. It features a new single-player campaign, 5 player co-op and 32 player online multiplayer, with PlayStation Move and 3D support as the icing on the cake. An enticing package to be sure, and it’s the 32 player multiplayer that is available for sampling right now.

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Free to download now for all PlayStation Plus subscribers in Europe and to selected players across the pond, the SOCOM 4 multiplayer beta features a rotating set of game modes, depending on which day you are playing. These game modes are available to play on two maps, Port Authority and Assault & Battery.

[drop]The first thing that players of Zipper’s previous PlayStation 3 outing, MAG, will notice is how similar the two games look and that, for the most part, is a good thing. Everything is very functional and minimalist, sleek yet somewhat lacking in originality and flamboyance. SOCOM is clearly a more aesthetically pleasing game than MAG, however, and the game looks great. The environments are very well designed and pretty, with some great textures and scenery and Zipper seem to have done a great job in this regard.

However, as fans of the series will no doubt agree, the beauty of SOCOM lies in its stellar third person action gameplay. The game feels great, the controls good if not somewhat floaty.  It’s certainly not as twitchy as Call of Duty or as heavy as Killzone but it feels good to control. Action is fast-paced, with plenty of options for tactical gameplay which fans of the series will no doubt be happy to see. This, combined with great map design (with regards to the two maps available), means action is relentless, tactical and hugely satisfying.

SOCOM seems to follow in MAG’s footsteps with regards to the sheer amount of customization options available. Touted as having over 40 guns to unlock, combined with multiple attachments and equipment means that players will have no shortage of toys to play with. Players have a global ranking system through which they progress, unlocking more guns along the way. Each gun also has its own ranking system, with each “mod” you progress towards unlocking a new attachment for use with that gun. Players progress through the various “mod” levels by using a gun and earning kills with it.

The usual in-game medals, ever-present in modern-day shooters, are all here, which, along with the game’s trophies, should keep the player coming back for more. Persistent stat-tracking and leaderboards are present for comparison with your PSN friends.

[drop2]As mentioned earlier, SOCOM supports PlayStation Move and 3D also. I have tried out the move implementation for a while and, while clearly well implemented, doesn’t feel entirely suited to multiplayer. It takes a bit of getting used to and it’s been clear to me from playing it myself and with others that players using the regular Dualshock controller will certainly have the advantage. It feels decidedly different to Killzone’s fantastic Move implementation, however having played some of the single-player campaign using Move at the PlayStation Hub event in Dublin last year, it may be more suited to that aspect of the game.

Overall, SOCOM: Special Forces is shaping up to be one of the finest multiplayer shooters this year, with great controls and visuals. It is a pity that the Move implementation is slightly lacking, however. Of course, this is all “beta” gameplay, but with the game fast approaching its April release, one would assume it is a fairly decent representation of the game’s multiplayer component, which is most definitely positive. I must admit, SOCOM had definitely dropped off my radar until the beta was announced, but it’s now firmly set to be one of my many day-one purchases in 2011.  Let’s hope the single-player lives up to the great precedent the multiplayer is on course to set!

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42 Comments

  1. I hate the fact ‘True’ SOCOM fans are burning this game. Honestly I will be picking this up on release day its so good.

  2. I’ve been downloading the update all day, finally got it running, loaded a match up, played 2 mins before it disconnected me, and now I can’t get in a match at all. I’m not getting on well with it so far!

    • The servers are down at the moment as they change the game types every day.

    • I tried on and off for a hour last night and could not get into a game.

      • Me too, I gave up. It reminds me of the usual experience with Homefront.

      • You should keep trying, its definitely worth it once you get going.

      • Will do but for now it’s more fun pwning you on Homefront..lol

    • I think they posted a schedule up somewhere, the servers are not up 24/7

      • That was used for MAG simply because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough players on to populate some of the larger game sizes.

        SOCOM 4, though, /is/ up around the clock, the schedule is just so that the particular game modes are getting the attention and can be analysed more coherently.

        Anyway, if the servers were down, wouldn’t there be a notice?

  3. I got as far as the main download, then discovered I had to download another 1.5GB of stuff just to play. So I stopped it and went to play something else.

    Don’t see why the main thing couldn’t have included everything it needed.

    • it’s a beta. they may need to patch it as they go.

  4. seen some vids online and it looks pretty good. Shame I can’t download it being a non plus subscriber. It comes out next month anyway.

  5. i downloaded it pretty quickly, then patched it then i really couldnt be bothered with the 1.5gb download and havnt touched it since that

  6. I must admit this version of Socom remind me more of a COD MW2 third person game mode than a Socom game. I didnt really get on with it at first with all the changes but have started to enjoy it more playing classic mode rather than standard mode.

  7. Are the Move controls really lacking? I tried the game with DS3 and thought that things felt far too sluggish so I switched over to Move, change the deadzone to as small as it’d allow and I’ve never turned back. Move controls seem absolutely fine. I’ve yet to feel like Move has restricted my ability.

    • you can change the control sensitivity in the settings. makes it MUCH quicker to aim.

  8. I expected to be deleting this beta pretty sharpish, that wasn’t to be. I frickin love it, I have even pre-ordered it from playing this beta.

  9. I think I’m one of the few people who doesn’t like the multiplayer in SOCOM 4. Both controls schemes feels incredibly loose and the weapons are very inaccurate. Another gripe I have is the small health counts, encouraging players to camp instead of making their way to objectives and fully participating.

    • That’s Socom for you mate, ever since Socom U.S. Navy Seals on PS2, it’s always been about camping and exploiting the 3rd person view to see around the corner ;)

    • the weapons are not inaccurate its pretty easy just something to get used to and the camping players nah man thats not because of the small health thats because of the big open map which they need to fix in classic mode

  10. I still think that Zipper has a massive amount of work to do, controls are just too complex (throwing a grenade for example).

    • Tapping R2 too complex?

    • Im gonna hazard a guess that you mean the rather unpredictability of the grenades when thrown?

      • grenades are naturally unpredictable though…as is throwing any type of object…

    • complex? uhmm R2 throws a grenade they need a grenade arc though

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