I can remember the first time I logged onto the internet with a console. It was the fall of 2000 and with a fresh copy of NFL 2K1 in my hands and a phone cord plugged into my Dreamcast I was prepared to duke it out with gamers across the globe! Sadly this did not last long as soon after my beloved DC was a dead system and with it my love of playing games online. Not since then have I stepped into the virtual arena with real human opponents, not until now. Sony has finally launched it’s massive online gaming network and to celebrate it they have blessed us with SOCOM US Navy Seals. Does it bring back memories or fail to revive a great past time?
Every other reviewer and his brother has already given their thoughts on SOCOM, but I thought it would be fair to my readers to wait until I had the full experience. This of course being online with “real” gamers and not just press and dev team members. The network was assuredly running fine with only a few hundred people on it, that is why all reviews up to date have claimed lag-free game play. This is assuredly not the case with upwards in the thousands of gamers online the game is certainly not perfect but damn is it fun. The major gripe about online play is that Sony is a newbie when it comes to networking, they still have a ways to go before they become regulars. One day after SOCOM launched the servers went down for two days because of the overload. In fact as of the day I write this review they have yet to put the clan and player ranking features back in.
We all know great gaming comes with a price and if SOCOM is one thing online it is fun. Getting 16 players into one room for a game suppression gets the adrenaline going while a quick game of demolition or extraction will really show you people can work together when need be! The online mode basically consists of three types of game, suppression, extraction, and demolition. Suppression is your basic deathmatch, but of course on SOCOM it is a team style where one side is the terrorists and the other the seals. Demolition is basically two teams, one bomb, and you can imagine the rest, the first side to successfully plant the bomb or kill the other team wins. Extraction is a game where the terrorists hold hostages and the seals must rescue them, if they die then the terrorists win, the cool part is if the terrorists kill a hostage they lose. Lots of strategy involved online and playing with real people is a blast!
On top of the multi player experience SOCOM also packs a hell of a single player game as well. With missions ranging from infiltration to hostage rescue this game packs more than enough to keep you busy. Another cool feature SOCOM brings with it is voice recognition and voice chat. When you purchase SOCOM it comes packed with a headset that can be used online as well as off. Online it allows you to chat with team mates and develop strategies, offline you use it to direct your AI partners through the voice recognition system. The system developed by Zipper that is very very good. The game will recognize what you say almost every time and even keep up with you if you already know the commands and say them in one sentence w00t!
The bulk of the single player game develops very well, your missions keep you interested and the game play is simple enough for anyone to learn yet take time to master. Learning everything you can do inside SOCOM can take a few games to figure out and a few months to master. Personally I like learning new things after time of play, it makes you feel rewarded for actually playing the game. The few complaints about single player is that your team mates AI is sketchy at times. Your partner Boomer can leave himself open for the kill on more than one occasion and he can also allow enemies to get close to you without alerting you. Your Bravo team is a little better but at times can also be more of a hassle than an aid. They tend to let tangos take them out with ease and leave much to be desired in the stealth department.
I could write for days on the aspects of SOCOM, but I did promise myself I would keep this as short as humanly possible. SOCOM is one of those games that everyone should own, most importantly purchased with a network adaptor to extend the life of your game. Without multi-player this game may lack after beating it once or twice. My advice is to get the game now and even if you lack broadband purchase the network adaptor for when you upgrade to the future. This is a giant leap for the console world and a landmark for gamers across the globe, if you have the means grab this stellar title. A must buy for fans of thinking games and fans of great games in general!