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Wesley J 06-12-2011 07:28 PM

Please Rate this Review: Socom 4
Rock-em Socom

High: Guns were the main characters. Beautiful sounds

Low: PSN was down ?

WTF: Stealth missions ? Different.

Socom 4 is a third person shooter from the same team that brought us the original titles on the Playstation 2, Zipper Interactive. Set in Malaysia you take command of a squad of Navy Seals with Commander Cullen Gray. On a ops mission to take out the native rebels "NAGA" and mercenary group called "Clawhammer." The story to be quite frank, is all over the map. I didn't really get into it that much or even understand what the point of the whole battle was all about. That said, I don't believe anyone who plays this game will get it either. While not being as flashy or cinematic as say a Call of Duty experience, the game did have its action highlights in a more raw sense. To compare it anything, I would have to say it is more like Ghost Recon A.W. then anything. With its somewhat urban warfare game play. With the triangles on your squad and commands, it plays much the same as a Ghost Recon. The squad can be commanded with the d-pad and directed where to be positioned and regroup. It is not as executed as well in my opinion. There is no command to tell your squad to be silent and not shoot enemies. Half the time you end up telling them to run somewhere and someone will walk right in to your marker, making it very frustrating. Your team AI is nothing to brag about either, constantly crossing your fire and getting in the way is a problem here.

The enemy AI on the other hand is decent, they will flank you and spam grenade you to death in the later levels. Playing on the harder difficulties will take some patience and skill to master as the enemies are very on point, and you will go down with couple shots. I have always like the more realistic approach to modern shooters were there is consequences for your actions. The game spans over 14 missions with all sorts of objectives to achieve as the commander, nothing really new here though. That is my problem with these modern shooters, there is not much really to expand when it come to objectives and narrative. A quarter of the missions you will take control a female op named Fourty-Five, who is a stealth and recon expert. Playing as Fourty-Five does change the whole pace of the game and add some sneaking elements to the gameplay. For the most part were just trial and error missions. If you were spotted by an enemy the mission is over, you can not fight your way out. Makes sense, but on the other hand clashes with the main games style of play.

The graphics and overall presentation of Socom 4 is well done. The jungle atmosphere, while being most of the game scenery can get a little tiresome. The maps are well designed with a sense of distance and width, but for the most part are linear to the main objective. Explosions and smoke effect were awesome and brought the sense of the chaos at hand. The sound design is fantastic, well the guns at least. The guns sounds spot on and help bring the atmosphere of war together. I can't say that I even remember what the music in the game was really, as in average soundtrack to be specific. Your typical war game orchestral themes you would expect to hear, but nothing that stood out to me or had me "humming" the theme at work. The chatter between the comrades is well done to bring the squad to life, and the enemies would have some decent dialog too. The menu design was mediocre to say the least and kind of confusing. What was highlight as your selection to choose was way up in the top left corner was not what you thought you were choosing in the menu, it was actually the selection underneath. Just didn't make sense to me to pick a scheme like that.

Before a mission you choose your load out. No different from any other shooter out there on the market. Pick a primary, secondary weapon and two items for accessories, ie frags or flashbang grenades. The guns unlock by picking them up in the mission and carrying in to the next, just a poor design choice really. Confusing to say the least. The guns that aren't unlocked are silhouetted upon choice and trying to remember which guns you haven't picked up can be just tedious when in the heat of battle. Each gun can level up to a maximum of 5 levels by killing the opposition offline or online. Unlocking all the way up to level 5 grants you the use of new attachments and sights. While this might seem standard in a shooter, it is not rewarding at all when anyone can just plow through the game and not even need any of that. Intel can be found in each map as a collectible, but we have all seen this before in these type of games. The Tarraco fruit is another collectible that can be found, one in each level to be exact. These pieces of fruit are well hidden and buried in side each mission. While being something original it is better then just finding the three Intel briefcases which has been done many times before.

The online multiplayer was really tricky for me to do for this review, as you all know the Playstation Network has been down since the 20th of April. I had a chance to play some custom campaign with a friend on the launch day. Choose a level, objective, and the difficulty and go in and crack some heads with up to four players. Each map only has two different objectives choices One is to find and kill the commanders of the opposing force and the other is to gather Intel from the enemy. Setting up the game is like a playlist, choose up to four scenarios max and they will load out one after another upon completion. While only playing a couple of maps online you can always play them solo with your squad offline. For the most part they are just rehashes of the original campaign levels. I can totally see the fun in cranking up the difficulty and have 3 others join you, would be a descent experience. I also had a chance to play some online adversarial games too, which I was lucky. You can party out with friends a join a wide variety of modes. Classic Socom rules where you have one death a round, which I prefer. Standard mode with respawns and air strikes and custom modes from the developers are the other two options. I had a chance to play some suppression, which is your standard team death match. It ran solid and I can't knock it at all, though having only a couple hours online I can not fully judge it. There are no rewards or perk system to be seen besides leveling up your arsenal. While being more classic route, I still respect that decision. Not at all online shooters need to have that "carrot on a stick" reward system to succeed, should be all about the game play in the end. I haven't tried the game with the move so have no thoughts on that but if your a fan of Socom, without a doubt you will enjoy this game.


Disclosures: Rental, approx 15 hours of single player, and 5 hours of co-op and online play

Parents: M for mature. Blood and gore, intense violence, language

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: The game has subtitles

Pedro 06-14-2011 02:41 PM

Re: Please Rate this Review: Socom 4
Hey Wesley,

While it's pretty apparent that you know your stuff with this genre of game, the review is a bit hard to follow for someone who isn't familiar with the genre.

The prose is very dense and stacatto. The first paragraph covers plot, control scheme and AI, for example, and also makes reference to a separate game that people may not be familiar with.

Also, it's a bit casual and personal - eg "I didn't really get into it that much or even understand what the point of the whole battle was all about", "I can't say that I even remember what the music in the game was really" etc. It really reads like you're discussing the game with a friend rather than explaining it to someone who hasn't played it.

I can see you took a lot of care with the review - it's well laid out etc, but maybe you should re-read it as if you were some stranger reading it for the first time. There are a lot of little things in there that you'll notice.

You obviously know your stuff; maybe just try and make it a little less dense to read.

Wesley J 06-21-2011 01:11 AM

Re: Please Rate this Review: Socom 4
Thanks for the read! Yes, it does seem like I am just talking about my experience and not thinking of what the reader has played or experienced before. I have been criticized on previous reviews for being too straight up about describing it for an outsider view and not talking about what I feel and think. That is why, for this review specifically I did the opposite and talked about my experience personally. I have made some changes, taking in what you have said about it and hope that it will help someone who has never played this type of game before understand what my personal experience was all about.

frogofdeath 06-21-2011 09:40 AM

Re: Please Rate this Review: Socom 4
Wesley J,
I think the writing is very well done, just not really seeing the "review" aspect of this piece. You have a good style and some good points, but there's something missing.


Originally Posted by Wesley J (Post 197242)
That is why, for this review specifically I did the opposite and talked about my experience personally.

Before I even read this response, I felt the exact opposite - you left out your personal experience. The review reads more like an informational piece about the game. This is the plot, this is what you do, here are the characters, the sounds is like this, so-on-and-so-forth.

These type of items can be intermingled in the review, but right now I feel like you just tell the reader about the game, not your experience. I enjoy the paragraph where you mention the sound. This is something that isn't often focused on in reviews and adds something to your piece. However, once again, it comes off as, "this is the sound, you might hear this, the sound effects are this." Reword it to tell us how the sound effects helped immerse you in the game.


Originally Posted by Pedro (Post 197136)
The prose is very dense and stacatto.

I fully agree with Pedro's staccato comment. You use many fragments in you writing which takes away from your review. Some fragments are okay, but too many often makes the piece difficult to read and follow.

Once again, you have a good writing style, so I hope you make some revisions. Just be careful and avoid telling us directly what is in the game. Give us your experience and sprinkle in those general tidbits throughout.

Wesley J 06-21-2011 11:23 AM

Re: Please Rate this Review: Socom 4
Thanks for the read man. As you can probably see/read I have no professional writing experience lol I personally do this for the love of video games. I appreciate the compliments and constructive criticisms towards this review. : ) Fragmented parts in my reviews is my biggest flaw I guess. I find it hard to write around that, when I want the reader to know as much as possible about the game and be fully informed. I will take a long look at this and try to re write it. Thanks a million guys!

frogofdeath 06-21-2011 09:06 PM

Re: Please Rate this Review: Socom 4
Don't sell yourself short, professional or not, your writing is actually quite well put together. It really just comes down to making the piece a review and not just an informational piece.

Also, don't rid yourself completely of fragments. When used correctly, they add to the writing. Just be careful of using them too much.

Keep at it.

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