Socom U.S. Navy Seals: Confrontation changes up the tried-and-true formula for a multiplayer-only debut on the Playstation 3. It's seems Slant Six might have pulled the trigger a little early as the Playstation 2 flagship series hasn't been smoothest transition for the veteran shooter. Now that the servers are up and running at a more stable compactly, let's get swallow the anchor.
If you have been following Socom's official website then you know about Socom's server problems, and you also know they have started to be addressed. Socom U.S. Navy Seals: Confrontation has finally started to gather some serious speed and grow in size online. If you haven’t been aware, Confrontation's launch has been filled with a number of technical server issues. It seems Sony wasn’t exactly ready for the high demand of a Confrontation after the games launch. This is a little surprising given that Socom has been one of Sony’s most popular franchises over the years on the Playstation 2. I know a lot of gamers have eagerly picked up their copies on day one and have been fighting through this games problems, but Sony has been publicly addressing the fan base with a positive attitude to make things right. I'm sure they are all working promptly to make Confrontation as smooth as possible, so rather than dwell on the annoying problems let’s get into the game that I was finally able to play.
The point is nailed home once you start up 'Confrontation,' this online-only game made for the Socom fanatics. Not even all SOCOM fans in general, but the ones who dedicate their time and livelihood to battling online in clans or teams. Immediately this alienates a good chunk of gamers who might want to ease their way into Socom’s battlefield, or have enjoyed the single aspects of the old titles. It almost like Slant Six wanted to keep the new gamers out of the loop because they didn't even include a tutorial mode to learn the SOCOM basics. Most gamers that load up Socom without a extensive base will be crawling away in shame as veterans pump holes into them online.
Further complicating things Socom's old school interface to find online games could detour some users from playing. Finding a game isn't too difficult, it's done by searching out a server and then finding the appropriate game to join. This isn’t so bad if you are used to scanning servers for the best ping and player ratio, but for all those are used to the Halo ways of matchmaking will be a little set back in the extra work needed to hook up for a few simple games. Besides the possible qualms of finding a game the clan heavy focus of Confrontation could estranged lone wolf, or newbies online. If Confrontation would have included a single player campaign even a mirror of the multiplayer with bots, similar to Unreal Tournament then I’m sure the game could have garnered a bigger response or picked up a few new gamers looking to experiment with Socom. Without a new audience to experience Socom It might be a little too late for the franchise to keep its longevity on the Playstation 3 despite its strong install base. Unlike before, Socom is going up with other excellent console games like Sony’s own Warhawk and excellent third party games like Unreal Tournament, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 and Call of Duty.
Jumping into the game you will find that Socom is a fairly solid shooter. Socom wages battle between two factions, the U.S. Navy Seals and the Mercenaries. Each side can be deeply customized from your look to your weapons which adds a lot of personality online. Weapon customization helps the Mercenaries become a little more dangerous with their slightly out dated weaponry and the Seals can become even more specialized and focused. On the battlefield the amount of control options has increased giving a few more fancy moves to pull off which includes rolling sideways and sprinting. The learning curve to mastering all these controls is slightly challenging. After a few matches things will start to become a little clearer, to bad you’ll likely be pawned until then. Again, a tutorial mode would have cleared up this problem.
The tactics online leans towards teamwork with a capital “T”. Players that don’t act as a team will likely be defeated quickly, or be letting that one talented player do all the work. Splitting up in groups and advancing smartly is best approach that I have found. Take this advice with a grain of salt because I am in no way an expect Socom clansman, but I have seen some in action so I know what it takes to get a team moving in sync. Online you will need to use your mic and communicate, its another factor that will turn a half baked team into a more solid unit. Like they say, "communication is key", and very important in Confrontation.
Fans of previous Socom games will see a few familiar maps in Confrontation as a few favourites have been passed up through the ranks. There are also a number of new maps that made the cut, both in small and large variants. Each maps is well balanced for both sides of the skirmish and you can participate in action during the night or day time which adds an extra element of stealth during night outings. A few things have stayed the same and a few things have gone. The classic game modes returned giving players a good balance of activities to pursue online, but the idea of vehicles has been scratched since they never caught on from Socom 3 (2006).
Initially you will notice Socom’s clean cut graphical style from the main menu system which carries over into the game with an over polished smoothed out style. This still compliments Socom when running lag free online with some impressive sized maps, but it doesn’t do much to push the franchise into new ground. The lighting in the environments from dark corners to lighted open vistas would have to be the greatest compliment to the graphical production which adds a nice touch of realism. The detail on the customizable characters also is pretty slick, although the player models themselves aren’t overly realistic. Socom has never been about out performing other games that try and push the boundaries of graphic development, and Confrontation is no different.
The audio is the strong suit in the graphics and audio side of Socom. The music is swept into the background while the weapon sounds take high praise for the capturing of the real deal. Since there is no single player campaign with a lot of voice work the audio comes down to its effects and soundtrack. The music is you typical military war-themed tracks and a little bit of work has been done to add some environmental ambiance to the levels. With that said, Socom: Confrontation’s solid framerate, smooth polished graphics, and quality sound effects are a passable effort from Slant Six, but nothing that is too memorable or impressive. For a direct comparison I would have to mark out Warhawk.
While I’m on the audio Confrontation, you can pick up the game with the new blue-tooth headset which is Sony’s official offering for voice communication on the system. The headset will be sold separately, so if you planned on picking it up for other games, might as well grab it with Socom. The quality of this mic is super crystal clear. I was impressed on how easy it was to install (after I found the input on the top of the mic) and it sounds great in game. There are two tabs on either side of the headset to lower and raise the volume, along with a large mute button on its face. The official Blue-tooth headset is almost worth the purchase alone. Even if you’re not interested in Socom, I suggest you take a closer look at the headset.
Socom U.S. Navy Seals: Confrontation is made to please the fans of the online side of the Socom series. For this select group Confrontation is everything you wanted and a little more. The next-generation facelift was a while in the making and it’s good to see the franchise debut on the Playstation 3. The bad side to this is a number of server issues that have plagued the games launch and that Socom: Confrontation doesn’t welcome new gamers, or include a single player campaign. Socom: Confrontation could have benefited with a little more content aside from straight multiplayer to make a more well rounded project.
Offline bot play would have perfect, along with a tutorial mode to get you started on the right path. This is of no concern if you are already a Socom vet, all the vets will be able to pick up the control are roll with Socom off the bat. The conclusion on Socom U.S. Navy Seals: Confrontation is a mix reaction and a disappointment given Socom is a flagship series for Sony. Hopefully this is just the ground work to something bigger and better for Socom and the Playstation 3. Socom fans, no worries, you should run out and get this update to your classic online game. For all other games I’d explore you options and recommend giving Warhawk a trial run before you jump into Socom.