Commander shows the way
AFTER a recent security breach of Sony’s online PlayStation network resulted in it being shut for nearly a month, playing SOCOM Special Forces initially wasn’t much fun at all. That’s because most of the joy from this 4th instalment in Zipper Interactive’s tactical squad-based shooter game comes from playing with comrades online.
The main campaign mode sees you abruptly dropped into the middle of an ongoing conflict on a Malaysian island, which proves to be a little confusing at first. But the story starts making sense as it unravels.
You play as Grey, an ops commander with two NATO squads under your control. One team specialises in medium-range heavy firearms while the other is skilled in reconnaissance and sniping.
Orders are conveniently dished out to both squads using only the game controller’s D pad.
This is no run-and-gun game in which you’re going to get your hands dirty playing Rambo. Instead, you spend much of your time plotting strategies and giving orders as the commander while your squads do most of the killing.
The team-based main campaign is broken up with several solo nighttime stealth recon missions involving just one of the members. These slower-paced challenges see you gathering intel and destroying specific targets while avoiding confrontations at all costs. These aren’t nearly as exciting as the action found during fire-fight, though, if you have the patience, they offer plenty of tension.
While Zipper Interactive has refined the control system for ease of use, unfortunately the computercontrolled squads sometimes have a hard time following orders. This means they can take odd paths, move into dangerous situations and, most annoyingly, fail to help revive a wounded team member.
However, where SOCOM shines is the co-operative and multi-player modes involving real players as your squad and enemy.