Having previously played the BETA way back in September 2008, I was looking forward to getting my hands on the actual game itself. So when SOCOM: Confrontation (SC) dropped through my letterbox, albeit a couple of months after its US/Japanese release, I was really looking forward to it. I couldn't wait to see whether Slant Six Games had managed to iron out the game's faults, which I discovered in the BETA. So does it? Lets find out.
One of the major gripes I had with the BETA was the loading times throughout the game. Straight away it bugs me to see that this hasn’t changed. Not only do you have to install a massive 3.1Gb onto your precious hard-drive, which is a task within its self, it takes about 10 minutes to actually get into a game. Once a game is found it takes around 4 minutes for it to load up, then a further 4 minutes for it to start. But there’s no point dwelling on the matter so onwards and hopefully upwards.
One of the first things that I must say about SC is that the game is purely online only. Yes that means no kicking ass in the single player campaign, no co-op campaigns, and in general, no singleplayer gamemodes. What a disappointment. This automatically reduces the market to gamers who crave online gaming only. The good thing about this is that it means Slant Six Games have focused all their attention on the online side of gaming. That means loads of gamemodes, working on getting no lag, plenty of maps to enjoy, 32 player battles and my personal favourite, which I think many other gamers want in every game, a decent clan system.
There are few games these days which incorporate a decent clan system, but SC’s is one of the best I have ever seen. You will soon be able to join what's called Clan Ladder matches, where you and your clan fight it out against the best. Beating another clan moves you up the ladder one place, and losing moves you down one place. As a clan your aim is to try and make it to the top of the ladder and then from there move into the ladder above you, which will consist of better clans. But while you wait for this amazing feature to become present, you can just play normal clan matches arranged outside of the SC world. If you want to create your own clan you can by creating your own logo using a various different amount of options, along with also having the ability to choose which rank your team members are within the clan. It’s really intuitive and easy to use, even for the novice.
Along with the decent clan system there is also a lot of customizable options available to you in regard to your player and his weapons. You can add face paint, scars, different types of armor and more. The weapon selection is vast, with each gun giving you an option to add extra parts. Customise the weapon by adding lasers, bipod stands (for lying down), dozens of different scopes and more. It's really detailed and you will spend a while playing around with various different outputs. Once your character is kitted up you can then take it online!
Either in your clans, flying solo or even just playing with some friends you can enjoy an array of game modes. Breach, Escort, Demolition and Elimination to name a few. So there's quite a few to keep you occupied. But here is where my first major moan abouts to erupt. Every ranked game you play is set to no respawn. It's so infuriating when that when you die you have to wait for the next round, and because of SC's nature, it could take you between 10-15 minutes before you are alive again in the next round. This gives you a clear indication on how the game is going to play out. Obviously as you don't want to die early on there is a lot of waiting around getting ready to pounce on someone, usually me, who gets bored of 'hiding' and runs out in the open. That's the main problem I found with the game. It's all about tactics and patience rather than going all gun-ho. For me, there just isn't enough going on to keep me occupied for long enough. Even with games full of 32 players you barely see anyone out in the open, but I suppose that's just being smart and helps avoid being killed within the first 2 minutes. Alternatively you can do what I do and just play player matches with respawns set to on, which for me, is a much more enjoyable experience.
There is a couple of tips to help you avoid becoming easy meat. Use the Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 'over the shoulder' view to good use. You can switch between looking over each shoulder depending on if you're planning on turning right or left. Annoying at first and it does takes some getting used to, but after a few games you are automatically changing shoulders to suit your environment and surroundings. Tip number 2 is to learn the surroundings for each map you are playing in. There's no point running into a building spraying bullets if you don't know that there are high vantage points with enemies above likely to pick you off. While on the subject of maps this is one thing I think every developer should look at in their games. Day/ Night settings. That's right, some of the maps in SC contain day/night, and small/large selections, ultimately giving you 4 different map variations. It's a great feature which as previously stated, should be made aware to other developers looking for the complete package.
Now that Trophies have also been added to the game it gives SC another element which should prolong the life of the game, especially if you're a Trophy whore. They are on the uber-hard scale in relation to actually obtaining any of them however. For example they range from the bronze trophy 'SMG- 3rd Class' which requires you to get 250 SMG kills, 5 SMG kills with 15% accuracy in one game, 25 kills with 4 different SMG's, 2 SMG headshots in one game just to get the trophy, to the gold trophy 'Legion of Merit Medal' which requires you to get 50MVP awards, 5000 kills, 250 headshots, 500 games on the winning side and more. It's crazy, and hard, stuff.
As the game is online only that pretty much it. Overall, Socom just isn't for me. The US gamers just have too much of a head start for me to enjoy the game at any great level. The loading times are pathetic, and that in itself is a massive deterrent. However if you love playing games online only, love taking games seriously and love tactical games in general, then SC is for you. If not I would suggest you avoid and look to investing your money in another shooter game that might take your interest.