[Editor’s Note: Due to SOCOM: Confrontation receiving its much anticipated patch, we have decided to update our review. This isn’t something we normally do, but we felt it was necessary to give a proper representation of what to expect with Confrontation.]
SOCOM: Confrontation has been anything but smooth sailing for fans of the series. The game launched with a laundry list of technical issues, but it has finally been patched, and therefore deserves a second look. In my original review, which can be found below, I initially gave SOCOM: Confrontation a 7.5. While some readers found this to be a ludicrous score for their beloved tactical shooter, it was something I still stand by as "fair" at the time. Since then, I’ve seen SOCOM take a great stride forward.
My biggest gripe with the launch edition was the atrocious scope glitch. Thankfully, this issue is fixed and scopes now correctly display what you’re aiming towards. This makes sniping a joyous experience which all fans of the series should be happy about. Furthermore, all technical issues have been corrected. No longer does the main menu lock up the entire console forcing you to perform a hard reset.
As many fans experienced, server loads were often the cause of being unable to join games or connect properly. Combined with the fact some players seemed to warp from one spot to the next, this almost crippled the title. Fortunately, this was corrected with the patch and the game now plays properly.
Due to these major overhauls and fixes, SOCOM: Confrontation is now the quality experience that gamers were hoping for. In light of these drastic changes, I feel compelled to update our review score from a 7.5 to an excellent 8.5.
I find it hard to think back to the PlayStation 2 and its definitive online titles without subconsciously reminiscing about the SOCOM series. As such, you can imagine the excitement and anticipation that must have been going through me as I waited for the opportunity to get my hands on SOCOM: Confrontation. While the wait may have been painfully slow, it almost feels as though it was all for naught. As many of you know, Confrontation released with a slew of problems and lost promises. Not only are features missing within the game that happen to be clearly printed on the case and in the instruction manual, but also the servers have been unbelievably atrocious. According to Slant Six, you can expect a patch to resolve these issues, which is why my review score will not reflect these technical aspects of the title. Instead, I will cover the customization and gameplay aspects.
The first thing you need to do upon booting up SOCOM is customize your Commando and Mercenary characters. Each character has a different set of items to select from and it helps give each unit its own identity. You have the choice of selecting primary weapons that range from standard assault rifles to sniper rifles. On top of this, you have the option of placing specific add-ons for each weapon type. This can include scopes, laser sighting, bi-pods, and many other items that make your weapons all the more potent. What sets the two character units apart is that the Commandos have your standard government issued M16s while on the flip side the Mercenaries are going to work with AK47s.
Customization continues from this point by giving you the option to select a secondary handgun and of course your standard gear. Standard gear is going to include: rocket launchers, RPGs, grenades, smoke bombs, claymores and more. Considering all of the items you have to choose from, it’s safe to say that there is a strong sense of ownership and uniqueness for each character created. It also allows you to play in a style that is most comfortable to you. One of the most important aspects to military combat though is camouflage. Not only is the color choice important, but also the ability to blend in with your surroundings. Thankfully, Confrontation has a plethora of options to choose from. Included in the game are three types of camouflage: Urban, Desert, and Night. Each suit of camouflage has five or so categories to select the appropriate color combination in order to create a particular chameleon effect. This is easily done as each category has over 10 possible color sequences to choose from. To finish off your elite soldier, all that is left to do is pick a face model (Caucasian, Asian, African American, etc) and your facial features (hair, mic, etc). It’s now time to go to war.
SOCOM has always been true to tactical warfare and Confrontation continues this trend. While the game may have a handful of players who enjoy adopting the run and gun approach to combat, it always rewards team unity more than anything else. This is made evident by the choice of bundling the official Sony headset with the game. Unfortunately, Confrontation seems to lack the communication needed to drive its intended purpose. After playing several matches, I noticed that either not many bought the bundle, or no one was willing to communicate to get things done. Around 10 matches in, I found a group of guys who seemed to never shut up, but coincidentally, we also won 5-6 matches in a row. It wasn’t until finding this group of players that I realized how good this game could be. Sadly, until more gamers start communicating, chances are, you won’t get the best of the experience.
One of the most significant elements of Confrontation’s realism is its authentic weaponry, which contains painstaking attention to detail, right down to the reliability of your firearms. By this, I’m referencing how responsive the trigger button is combined with how precise the aiming tends to be. In previous SOCOM titles, the precision shooter could often be plagued by a lot of missed shots, but with Confrontation, this seems to not be the case. This is a great improvement within the core gameplay because it no longer leaves you with a sense of being cheated during 1-on-1 combat.
However, there is a significant problem to be found in regards to the Sniper Rifle’s scope, rendering it almost unusable. When trying to zoom in on your target, it doesn’t actually aim where your gun is pointed, instead focusing about two feet higher. As a result, this proves extremely frustrating and may force the stealthier player to rethink their strategy.
Outside of providing a truly authentic gameplay experience, SOCOM’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the locations in which you’ll battle on. While there’s only seven in total, each one has been meticulously crafted and offers multiple paths for you to traverse, giving you a chance to maximise your team efforts and take advantage of numerous sniper locations, among others. Sadly, there’s a noticeable amount of texture pop-in, although this can be overlooked considering how vast each map is. Regardless, those of you expecting something akin to Call of Duty 4’s sumptuous visual fest are likely to be a little disappointed.
As far as technical issues go, you can expect the patch to fix the following problems: Lag-filled servers, stat tracking, freezing at the start up, teleporting glitches because the server has trouble locating a player, connections timing out causing you to be unable to join a game and the worst culprit, Trophy support.
Despite these issues, however, SOCOM: Confrontation is sure to appeal to long time fans of the series. Confrontation is full of the same methodical action you’ve come to expect of the franchise, the tactical aspects still remain and the clans are sure to keep people playing through the toughest of times. Although it’s unfortunate that Slant Six opted to ship the game in its current state, it won’t stop Confrontation from being one of the better PS3 shooters out there once these issues have been fixed up.