I don’t know much about the SOCOM games. If you recall, my last brush up with these games didn’t go so well. In fact, I found it ugly, buggy and rather simple. However, SOCOM 4 wasn’t made by Slant Six. It was developed by the franchise’s original developers, Zipper Interactive. And unlike the last game, this one has a single player campaign. I don’t think it’s worth playing, but since the PlayStation Network is still down, folks who picked this up don’t have much choice if you want to get something out of it.
I mistakenly believed the SOCOM games were like Rainbox Six or Ghost Recon. There were squad tactics and playing on the higher difficulties did promote the use of said tactics, but it wasn’t very engaging either way. Go left, move here, sprint here and gather around me; I did all those things in the first couple of missions and repeated those same tactics all the way to the end. The only difference was the lethality of the enemies and the number of bullets they could absorb.
Zipper Interactive did not deserve to use the SOCOM: Navy SEALS name. There was nothing SOCOM about SOCOM 4. The recent Call of Duty games did more to sell the idea of special forces than Zipper. The only special forces framing they did was a voice over by “The Oracle” over a map during the mission briefing. But as soon as the mission began, all I did was get to cover and shoot.
When it came down to the fundamental game mechanics, SOCOM 4 was a third person Call of Duty game. I was able to sprint, dive to prone and even knife someone with the press of R3. I couldn’t climb ledges; all I could do was climb over chest high objects. I felt very limited. And when I found myself tired of the missions, I was hamstrung by the lack of options available to me — I couldn’t make my own fun.
To be fair, it wasn’t all stop and pop cover based action. There were also stealth missions! But if you’re groaning after reading that, you have every right to because these diversions were poor excuses for stealth action. All I had to do was keep an eye on the stealth meter and I was golden.
Fortunately the game runs well because it isn’t much of a looker. I found it ugly along with SOCOM: Confrontation and, Zipper’s previous title, MAG. Whatever look they’re trying to accomplish with these games, they should stop and look at their competition. The flat lighting make objects like shrubbery and boxes stand out more than they should. Objects looked great individually, but as part of the bigger picture? It wasn’t a pleasing look whatsoever.
I can’t recommend SOCOM 4. Not to military buffs or third person shooter fans. I can’t even recommend it to people who enjoy the multiplayer and are currently itching for a SOCOM fix because playing it may turn you off from the game altogether. Every time I sat down and played a session of SOCOM 4, I would stop after a mission or two because I felt like there was something better to do. I felt like I was wasting my time. So heed my warning and just say “no” to this title.
For more information on SOCOM 4, visit the official site.