Definition of Beta test;
The Beta test is a software version released to a limited population of users for functionality and bug test evaluation before the final release to the general user base.
So with the above in mind, and a code for the SOCOM: Confrontation Beta, I was ready to go hands-on with the game. But before we begin, let me give you a little bit of SOCOM’s background. SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALS was developed by Zipper Interactive and released in August 2002 for the PlayStation 2. SOCOM revolutionised the way gamers played with the game being the first of it’s kind to include a headset, and instructions which can be carried out through the headset to your AI team-mates. Since 2002 SOCOM has had a few other outing’s, but this October* will see SOCOM, and it’s new developers Slant Six Games, make its first appearance since the release of the PlayStation 3, and it will be a platform exclusive. So with that brief history lesson out the way, you can now read on for my impressions of the SOCOM: Confrontation multiplayer Beta.
Booting up the game I was getting excited. But one thing worth mentioning before jumping into the jaw dropping clan system and gameplay is that in the main screen there is an option to have a tournament match, but unfortunately it’s blacked out and unavailable to play. Looks rather interesting however so watch this space.
The clan system in the Beta looks superb. There are so many different things you can change within your clan. From team colours, specific ranks for members to your team logo everything is covered here. It’s great to see a game where they have included clan support, as this has rarely been done in previous console shooters. Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter would have to be the only other game I can think off with a similar system. With your clan sorted out, the next best thing to do is jump into the Beta test itself.
Trying to get into a match seemed to take forever, and within no time it becomes a chore. I know this is a Beta, but the menus seem to be sluggish, and once you have actually had the patience to wait 3 hours to find a match, it becomes unfunny and just damn right silly when you have to wait another 3 hours (OK, slight exaggeration) for the game map to load, of which there is only one. Make sure you have some snacks handy to minimise any distress while waiting to play.
However poor lobby and waiting times aside, you can then experience the Socom gameplay that we all know and loved from the previous PlayStation games. The online multiplayer Beta allows you to play an impressive 7 game modes; Suppression (team deathmatch), Control, Escort, Extraction, Breach, Demolition and Elimination. Suppression being the easiest game to jump into with as minimum waiting time as possible, I rifled up and headed into the war zone.
The first thing you will notice is that it has a striking resemblance to Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter. The camera is set to an ‘over the shoulder’ view, in which you can switch between each shoulder view depending on if you’re 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. Moving, shooting and lying down all share the qualities found in G.R.A.W, which I personally don’t find a bad thing. SOCOM is all about stealth tactics, and not just running into a building spraying your bullets around. Knowing the maps in SOCOM will become key to changing from a good player to an excellent player.
One of the most interesting things about the only map available to play (Crossroads) in the Beta, is that the host, before the game starts, can change the time of day that the game is being played. Lying down waiting for an opponent to step into the light at night is extremely pleasing on the eye, and a nice feature that I would like to see included in future games.
The weaponry selection in SOCOM is one of the best i’ve seen in a while. The amount of customizable options for your guns is unreal. Scopes, lasers, stands, butts, handles and other gun accessories are all included here, making sure that the gun you carry with you suits your style of play. You can also edit these options every time you die, which is good if that laser sight just isn’t cutting it for you.
Overall I was impressed with the gameplay, clan system and weaponry system within the Beta, and I will be looking forward to getting my hands on the game late October ’08. Slant Six Games will definitely have to improve some things within the game, such as the loading times and the sluggish menu system. But overall they can look forward to what seems to be the next successful chapter in the SOCOM series.
* SOCOM: Confrontation is due for release on the 31st October 2008, this is subject to change however.