SOCOM 4 Hands-on Preview: A Bloody Good Time

  • Posted March 16th, 2011 at 20:53 EDT by Eric Blattberg

(continued from previous page) ...fact, it’s a feature. When I accidently ordered my allies into the middle of a firefight where they would undoubtedly reach an untimely death, one of the soldiers shouted, “That’s ridiculous!” They didn’t listen to their foolish commander, saving their lives in the process.

After I breezed through ‘Rendezvous’ (mission #2), I hopped into a mission much later in the game, ‘Onslaught’ (mission #8). In this mission, your squad meets up with NATO forces and battles its way through a marina. Since ‘Onslaught’ is further on in the game, I was able to customize my weapons with new scopes and add-ons. Full disclosure: I didn’t fully complete this mission. I took a barrage of bullets to the belly my first playthrough, one of the NATO soldiers I had to protect died on my second try, and the demo (an early alpha build running on a debug) froze up on my final attempt. Still, I played through the bulk of it, and it was quite a challenge. Thankfully, SOCOM 4 allows for flexible play styles. You can place yourself on the front lines and do the bulk the dirty work yourself, or hold back and direct your squadmates to attack before joining the fight. The latter is a bit less exciting, sure, but it’s a smarter strategy with a higher rate of success.

SOCOM 4 looks pretty good, but it doesn’t go toe to toe with the best the PS3 has to offer. Characters have a great sense of solidity and animate quite fluidly, but some environment textures are a bit bland, while visual effects like fire look downright strange. Still, the game looks way better in motion than it does in screenshots. The cutscenes are great, too, hosting cinematic camera angles and dramatic writing. The venerable Bear McCreary composed the soundtrack, his sweeping score brilliantly complementing the tense atmosphere of war.

Like more and more Sony games nowadays, SOCOM 4 boasts 3D support. I played ‘Rendezvous’ in 3D, but the screen appeared a bit blurry; the 3D actually detracted from the overall game experience. Apparently, this was because the PR rep had fiddled with the TV’s depth settings a bit earlier, so perhaps it looks better when it’s properly configured. Either way, I switched to regular old 2D for the next mission.

I came away from SOCOM 4 impressed, eager to see more of the game. The Sharpshooter works surprisingly well; I still don’t know if it’s a competitive option for multiplayer, but I look forward to playing the single-player campaign with motion control. Luckily, I won’t have to wait too much longer: SOCOM 4 deploys for PS3 on April 19, 2011 in North America and April 22, 2011 in the U.K.

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