For two weeks now PlayStation Plus and Killzone 3 owners have been able to experience the copious modes featured in the multiplayer beta for SOCOM 4, and starting tomorrow all PS3 owners will be able to get in on the action.
After spending considerable time with all the multiplayer has to offer — in both classic and standard settings — SOCOM 4 has revealed itself to be an evolution of the series, but one that makes conscious efforts to feel familiar to today’s multiplayer gamer. Can players look forward to a multiplayer experience that harkens back to the PS2’s heyday, or is SOCOM 4 a failed attempt to revitalize a dying franchise? Read on to find out.
As far as the modes of SOCOM 4 are concerned, Zipper Interactive has gone above and beyond their duties as a developer. Packing in so many different options that cater to each and every form of multiplayer gamer, SOCOM 4 is holding nothing back.
There is your classic deathmatch mode, a capture and hold variant, and the newly introduced Bomb Squad mode just to name a few. The beta offers players two distinct maps. Each has its weaknesses and strengths, some more than others, but the general idea here is if you find one mode caters to a gaming style you dislike, you can simply move on to the next.
Campers will be particularly fond of the Bomb Squad mode while gamers who are more kill-to-death ratio focused will stick with Suppression. Some modes work best when teamwork is used to complete an objective — protecting a player while they complete a task or securing various areas at once — but they don’t require it. With a mode for every gamer and then some, SOCOM 4 is working hard to become the build your own adventure book of multiplayer titles.
Combat itself is fluid and fast-paced, but can slow down if gamers take advantage of SOCOM’s traditional third person view. There are some new additions to the series, like knife lunges and iron sights, that make the game feel like a familiar FPS played out in third person, but classic SOCOM is still relatively well preserved.
Classic SOCOM is so well preserved, in fact, that the multiplayer offers a classic setting for each of its multiplayer modes. Instead of players re-spawning after each death, classic SOCOM settings are round-based, with one team tasked with eliminating the other. There are still certain objectives that need to be completed for a given mode, but those usually serve as a way to root out an enemy rather than a way to win a round.
Certain settings like turn speed and health regeneration are also tweaked to make the multiplayer feel much more like classic SOCOM, but still it’s hard to escape the more market-friendly sensibilities. This is definitely a return to form for Zipper Interactive, but it is also an attempt to snag a section of the multiplayer shooter market that might be unfamiliar with the series. It’s a blend of two worlds, old and new, but one that has so many options it’s hard to not be impressed.
Beneath certain design decisions, and with classic settings, the SOCOM that gamers remember can be found, but a different experience outweighs that. Multiplayer gamers of all types will find something to enjoy about SOCOM 4, and so will fans of the original SOCOM titles. It may have a little bit of the new sensibilities gamers have come to expect from a multiplayer title mixed in, but, if the right settings and mode are selected, it feels like an old friend has returned home. We highly recommend you check out the beta when it becomes available on the PSN this Tuesday.
Have you had a chance to check out the multiplayer beta for SOCOM 4 and want to share your thoughts? Are there any SOCOM fans out there that feel that the game has moved away from or stuck to the series’ roots?
SOCOM 4 releases April 19, 2011, for the PS3.
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