Com­man­der shows the way

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Tech - MIKE WIL­COX

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.

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