Name: SOCOM: Confrontation
Platform: PlayStation 3
The launch of SOCOM: Confrontation reminds me a lot of another PlayStation 3 multiplayer only title; Warhawk. While it is nice to finally see a graphically upgraded, SIXAXIS enabled version of Sony’s tactical shooter, you feel a little cheated by the fact that there is no single player campaign. Oh, and there are server issues, many, many server issues. Users have had difficuly connecting to games while some haven't been able to connect to a single one. While these issues are currently crippling, the ground work has been laid for SOCOM: Confrontation to be an impressive multiplayer title.
Since Sony cut Confrontation in half by leaving out single player, they sweetened the deal by offering two versions of the title; a lower priced version and one bundled with a Bluetooth headset. The headset bundle is available for $60, or you can get a game only Blu-Ray disc or download it off of PSN for $40. Unlike the Jabra headset that came with Warhawk, the PlayStation branded one feels like a solid headset worthy of the extra $20.
While most multiplayer heavy games do suffer some server issues, this launch has come close to embarassing. Corrupted profile data, an inability to connect to channels and matches, and many of the special features like clans and leaderboards being offline have all marred the release of Confrontation. Despite all these issues, when you finally get to play, it is fantastic.
With a lot of competition from other run-and-gun shooters out there, the SOCOM series has been comfortable defining itself as a more slowly paced tactical shooter. Don’t worry fraggers, there are plenty of matches with infinite respawns and chaotic firefights, but SOCOM really shines when you get into a match where everyone works together as a team. There is a tension that accompanies these matches that is truly unique. Of course no one enjoys getting sniped in the first thirty seconds, having to sit out the rest of the match, but those are the consequences. Simply surviving a match with one kill is a rewarding experience.
Victory starts with your equipment, and there are a fair number of customization options here. Choosing the right outfit for your Commando and Mercenary will help decide how you tackle each match; light armor will allow you to run faster while heavier armor should benefit slower paced players. There is a standard stockpile of assault rifles, shotguns, submachine guns and sniper rifles, each with two slots for scopes, laser sights, suppressors and grenade launchers. While it would be nice to see a more Call Of Duty 4 type level up system here, Socom is all about reality and working with your team, and they are your most powerful weapon.
While the game only ships with 7 maps, they are all laid out exceptionally, with the promise of more to come. Each map makes you feel vulnerable if you find yourself out in the open, or in a location you aren’t familiar with. Choke points are frequent, but if that isn’t part of your strategy, lure them into the open where they become easy targets. A single map can have multiple paced skirmishes thanks to 32 player support. SOCOM captures the urgency of a firefight, making every corner turned feel like it could be your last.
For those looking to make a career out of SOCOM: Confrontation, there is a fantastic set of features including clan support, tournament calendars and community tools. While all of these will go a long way toward making SOCOM an even more addicting experience than it is, they are currently either buggy or offline due to issues surrounding the launch.
There is plenty to like here, but there a few issues with the controls. For instance, having to use up and down on the directional pad to zoom in and out is just cumbersome. While this might add some tension to firefights, it just feels sloppy with so many other shooters approaching near perfection to their controls. Of course there is also the dreaded SIXAXIS "support" which allows you to peek around corners and above cover. The motion controls just aren't sensitive enough, forcing you to tilt the controller nearly sideways just to peek around a corner. Motion sensing is fine when it feels like a natural extension of your character, but these controls would have felt much better using an analog stick.
While SOCOM: Confrontation is a worthy challenger in the saturated multiplayer shooter market. The only complaint is that while Sony keeps taking the axe to their franchises making them smaller and more download friendly, they make them feel like fragments of what could be a complete game. The SOCOM series once helped Sony sell systems, now Bluetooth headsets help sell SOCOM games.