SOCOM 4 would have been a cool game – had it released five years ago. Today it’s nothing but a generic tactical shooter that’s a bit technically underwhelming. It’s not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the game; it’s just that gamers today are pampered by so much variety, SOCOM 4 feels kind of redundant.
Now, SOCOM games generally don’t have a single player campaign to speak of so the one present in Special Forces is kind of an added bonus. It also doubles up as a tutorial to get players acquainted with some of the game’s mechanics. The story is pretty non-existent and so is the voice acting. The action’s your standard third person cover based fare where you move around various environments taking cover, while using your team to flank and outwit enemies. I breezed through most of the single player campaign without any tactics as the game’s pretty easy and the lead character is surprisingly capable of absorbing a ton of damage. Plus the AI’s pretty dense.
Commanding your squad is the key to victory
The cover system feels quite stiff when you compare it to the smooth, intuitive ones we’ve been spoilt with over the past few years. Cover itself does not degrade over time so you can hide behind that wooden barricade with reckless abandon as enemies abuse it with bullets, grenades and rocket launchers.
Between bouts of running and gunning you’ll get to experience the game’s broken stealth system as Lt. Park, a butt kicking Korean hardass who’s just as proficient with a sniper as she is with a silenced pistol. While I have no problem with the way she goes about doing things, it’s the enemy AI that behaves excessively retarded during such missions. The route you’re supposed to take through these segments is highly linear so if you don’t stick to the pre-determined path, you will more often than not be spotted immediately and gunned down like a dog. Sam Fisher would not approve.
Don't worry; it'll last for ever
Visually the game’s a good five years behind its time. There’s hardly any AA (Anti-Aliasing) present throughout the game which means your eyes will constantly be assaulted by jaggies. Textures are pretty low res while character models are just about average. There’s hardly any environmental damage to talk about in this game and whatever does explode, like cars and barrels, looks pretty unimpressive. The game’s also excessively dark for its own good. Even during some of the day missions, I had to squint my eyes trying to figure out where I got shot from. Cranking up the brightness really didn’t help matters, instead, making the game look a lot uglier.
This becomes a noticeable issue in Multiplayer where campers and an excessive amount of foliage in some maps make it really tough to spot enemies. But things do fare a lot better on that front since MP is the meat of this game. Before you jump into the competitive modes, you can party up with up to four players to tackle the game’s co-operative mode, standalone missions with a bunch of preset objectives. If that’s not your thing, jump straight into the online arena where you can choose from a bunch of modes like Suppression (Deathmatch), Uplink (capture the Flag), Bomb Squad (Search and defuse) and lots more.
My first few hours with the game’s MP were utterly miserable. I kept playing it like Call of Duty sprinting into combat itching to shoot people and I just kept getting shot in the face – repeatedly. That’s when I realized this game is a whole new beast. Run and gun players used to the lightning fast combat of Black Ops should probably stay away from this game unless they’re willing to change their game style up. Even if you don’t decide to play as a team, you still have to be extremely careful taking cover, crouching when necessary, going prone at times or you’ll forcefully be reminded of this game’s unforgiving nature by the brutal sounds of your head getting popped. The game ships with a healthy arsenal but you’ll have to pick your load out depending on the map. Most maps in this game are huge making sniper rifles somewhat of a necessity. The game also encourages players to stick to one particular weapon as the more you use it, the cooler mods you unlock like the ability to carry more ammo or reload faster.
The A Team
As I’ve said before, SOCOM 4 is not a bad game at all. But at the same time it doesn’t have a single ‘OMG I need to own this game now’ quality. It does however bring a significant amount of content to the table in the form of a rather lengthy but average single player campaign, co-operative modes and a satisfying multiplayer component that could keep you busy for days on end.
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