SOCOM: Special Forces Review

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Also known as SOCOM 4: US Navy Seals in the US, which is ironic as there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the US navy seals in the game. The popular franchise returns and Zipper Interactive seem to have made a few changes.

The first is the inclusion of a single player campaign. It’s a fairly generic story, an enemy force hell-bent on destruction and it just happens to be our guys who take it upon themselves to end the destructive campaign. While that is the case I thought the voice acting really stood out, it’s an element that’s often overlooked, but here it’s top notch. The campaign itself is fairly short, but it can prove to be rather tough. It’s made of of two different kinds of missions, you have your standard blast your way through enemy lines affair. Giving orders to your fire teams, which I’ll come to later, and generally causing havoc for the opposition. Then there’s the espionage, or stealth missions. These rely on you keeping your distance from the enemy, on-line performing silent take downs and keeping to the shadows. Unfortunately it makes it slightly easier for you, in that the path is laid out for you, you just need to follow the set of way points which are placed rather closely together. It does make a change of pace and mixes up the game play nicely however.

Included in single player you also get what are called custom mission. These allow you to set a random mission up, you can customise the amount of enemies and all sorts. It’s actually a lot of fun, if you want to avoid any of the cut scenes from the campaign and just fancy a random skirmish then it’s great to jump straight into one of these. Also helps to level up you gear.

Speaking of which there is plenty of hardware to play with in SOCOM. You start with just a handful of weapons from each category (assault/smg/sniper/lmg) and you unlock more by picking them up in game and finishing the level with them. Each weapon can also be levelled up, also called a mod level, these unlock attachments and enhancements for your weapons. You can unlock suppressors, extended magazines, acog scopes and grenade launchers. It’s extremely varied and its a system which rewards you for trying out every gun in the game. The only thing missing from your arsenal is handguns, which I find very strange. Nothing quite like blasting away your enemies with a desert eagle, but then I suppose that isn’t particularly accurate as far as combat goes.

After playing the game for sometime, it’s definitely more of an action game than a strategic shooter. The levels, while you have some space to flank, can be quite linear. This probably makes the game much more accessible than previous entries. It doesn’t bog you down with any details and is action packed throughout.

The game has both co-operative and competitive multi player as course. The co-operative mode allows you to take on the custom missions with up to three friends. You get two mission type on six maps to choose from and makes the game much more enjoyable than worrying about getting your AI team-mates into cover. The competitive multiplayer has a selection of game modes included. You’ve got your standard team death match (suppression) which pits two teams of 16 against each other. You’ve also got uplink where you need to retrieve data and return it to your base. The most exciting by far has to be the bomb squad mode. You have an attacking and defending team, the objective of the attacking team is to protect their bomb disposal expert (selected randomly) so he can defuse the three bombs planted around the map. The defending team needs to stop this from happening by killing the bomb tech. Only the bomb tech can defuse them bombs, so it’s a lot of responsibility if you get seletced. Thankfully you also get extra armour, it looks like something out of the hurt locker, you also get an auto shotgun, so the bomb tech is actually really great in close quarters.

You have the same weapons available to you from the single player mode and you unlock more by levelling up your multi player character. You also need to level up your weapons to unlock attachments, just like the single player again. The only difference is that you need more XP to get to the next weapon level, which means you have to struggle with low level weapons for a little while. You’re also not able to carry over any weapons from the single player, so while you might have the most bad-ass assault rifle with silencer and acog scope in single player, you’ll need to unlock everything again in multi player. This also encourages you to switch to different weapons to level them up, everybody likes levelling up.

Also I can’t finish the review without mentioning the support for move. There aren’t too many games that support move, but this performs really well. It’s extremely satisfying pulling off a quick headshot online, whereas normally it wouldn’t have taken the time to adjust. At times I have ended up looking at the floor for an extended period and turning is a bit of an issue, but ultimately I will always play this with move, it’s just so much fun.

SOCOM is a great third person shooter and while it does move away from previous entries and makes a few changes, there’s plenty here to keep everyone entertained.

James Plant

20 something gamer. Love my racers and RPGs. Got a thing for horror games, but don't like horror films. Strange, but true.