SOCOM: Confrontation PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Slant Six Games
2009 in many ways is going to be an important year for the PlayStation 3. Whilst there were some great games for the system in 2008 the impetus needs to be maintained this year if the console has any hope of catching up with the phenomenal sales of the Wii console. While there will doubtlessly be a good assortment of great games for the console during the course of this year, SOCOM: Confrontation won't be regarded as one of them. It lacks both the content and quality of the original PlayStation 2 instalments in the series and it's a game that will disappoint all but diehard fans of the series.
Once you've spent time installing the game (2722MB of space is required), you'll jump straight into the game to find you'll need to install a patch that's just over 150MB. After that unpleasantness is out of the way you'll want to jump into the tutorial and maybe have a play of the single-player campaign before jumping into the competitive online scene. The only problem is that there is no tutorial and worst of all, there is no single-player campaign. Yes, SOCOM: Confrontation is a multiplayer only experience which will come as a big disappointment to those who have enjoyed the single-player campaigns in the series' previous games. Sure SOCOM veterans might be OK with the omission of the campaign but the lack of a tutorial does nothing to allow others to get to grips with how the game plays and it's a hell of an initiation to have to get to grips with the game in competitive multiplayer games.
SOCOM enthusiasts will probably enjoy what Confrontation has to offer. Up to 32 players are supported and you have a choice of seven different maps to play on, five of these have large versions too. Uniforms and weapons can be customised for both the Commando and Mercenary characters and the level of customisation here is actually very good. Incidentally, there's a rather large selection of weapons (there are various types of Assault Rifles, Submachine Guns, Machine Guns, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, Pistols, Explosives and Special Forces Weapons) to choose from which is pleasing. The game types on offer are Elimination, Demolition, Breach, Extraction, Escort, Control and Suppression.
The game has leaderboards for you to see how you're shaping up against other SOCOM players around the world. There are eight service medals for you to earn and a series of trophies to be won. So far so good but there are problems. The game suffers from lag and this can make aiming tricky at times. There's nothing here that feels fresh and there's nothing here that makes this feel like a unique multiplayer experience which would compensate for the lack of single-player content. Newcomers will have to put up with SOCOM veterans giving them an absolute caning until they get to grips with the finer points of the game and that just seems all wrong in an age when most games are doing a lot to be more accessible than ever.
Graphically speaking, Confrontation is a bit of mixed bag. The overall graphical quality isn't too bad. The character models aren't as good as they could have been and you could say the same for the character animations. The various environments you'll find yourself in do look quite good. There are a few graphical glitches in the game which are rather unsightly. The level design is very good however and clearly a lot of thought has been invested into making the levels as enjoyable as possible which is essential in a multiplayer only title. That said, some of the maps have been recycled from previous titles which is a little disappointing. The draw distance is also worthy of praise.
With this being a multiplayer only title it should come as no surprise that there are no subtitles in Confrontation. You can communicate with each other via text messages on the community screen and there are some preset text messages that you can send during matches but unfortunately, the majority of the players will be communicating via voice. Needless to say that if you can play in games involving just deaf gamers, or at least hearing gamers who aren't using voice communications, this is a problem you can get around but otherwise it's not an ideal experience for deaf gamers.
Most PlayStation 2 games that you could play online were actually pretty poor experiences and the one series that stood head and shoulders above the rest, in regards to providing an enjoyable online experience, was the SOCOM series. As such then it's no surprise to see that online play has been a major focus with the first game in the series to arrive on the PlayStation 3. It is a surprise however to find that it's just an online experience with absolutely nothing at all here for those who want a single-player experience. It's a game that's pretty much inaccessible to those who haven't spent time with the series and that has to be a major mistake. SOCOM enthusiasts looking for just an online experience will doubtlessly be forgiving of the game's shortcomings but everyone else will not.