Review: SOCOM 4 (PS3)

By Wayne Webb

SOCOM has been a presence on the PS platforms for a while now and initially was ahead of its time and really put the PS2 and the PSP through their paces.  On the next-gen console they are no longer ground breaking, but they are consistently fun to play.

In SOCOM 4 you are part of a UN team of soldiers that are stranded in a country over run with terrorists and you receive remote orders and support to complete your mission or just escape/survive in some instances. Gone are the planned gung-ho American incursions of previous efforts by the SOCOM games. Replacing it is the multi-national soap-opera of rogue soldiers and mish-mashed teams where everyone argues and has a grim/ironic back story that explains why they shout and bitch at each other. Frankly I could have done without it, and the Scottish, Australian and other accents floating around just managed to annoy me.

From there it’s a predictable but reliable experience. You get orders and weapons and you carry them out. Your squad will go do what you tell them to, but the options are limited compared to the old control systems. You carry on and follow the on screen instructions and generally shoot or sneak your way through missions. The stealth missions are particularly good for the patient, lie-in-wait snipers amongst you. 

Also the “behind the head” view can be unreliable as you struggle to twist and turn to see what you are doing sometimes.  The weapons, the firefights and the explosions are as good as ever and make up for a lot of the oddities in the presentation. Another glitch is in the death scenes. The body flops around like a rag doll, often disappearing into the ground or every now and then defying gravity. Once I was shot carrying a body, my player fell to the floor like a boxer with his knees gone, but the body I was carrying remained stationary a few feet above the ground, just floating there. This does not make the game any less fun or harder to play, but it feels sloppy.

If you can forgive the sloppy design elements and voices you get exactly what you want in a game, great visuals in the scenery and backdrops, intense and challenging levels of action, and the sense that if war was really this simple then they should all be over a lot quicker.

Pros: Gratifying action, easy-to-follow game play and good in-game visuals.
Cons: Voices/Dialogue are jarring, death-scene physics sloppy, camera angles askew.

3.5 out of 5 Shacks