gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.


I’ve never been a fan of the SOCOM series, in fact I’ve never so much as given it a chance. With so many craptacular macho shooting games to choose from, I’ve had to stick with the good ones. ( No. Not Call of Duty ) Okay, that’s an unnecessary slam, I really don’t know if the SOCOMs leading up to 4 have been good, or bad, but I do know, or at least have a reasonable idea, that SOCOM 4 errs on the side of bad.

In keeping with the oodles of ridiculously poor, cookie cutter multiplayer online shooters SOCOM 4 has a single-player campaign that is so unfathomably terrible it will make you claw out your eyes and brain in disgust. This is hardly unexpected, as the list of multiplayer-centric games with highly compromised and wholly awful single player campaigns is as long as Friday, running right up against MAG which doesn’t even have single player ( I actually like MAG. No, really. I do ).

Unfortunately I’m not exactly the most frequent online gamer, so I’ll readily admit that I haven’t touched the SOCOM 4 multiplayer. Please consider this a half-arsed review and feel free to flame my ill-concieved and abrupt opinion into oblivion with your fanboyish praise ( haha… oh boy, you see that’s funny because no sane individual would ever praise SOCOM 4 ). However, there are things besides the single player which I have experience that leave me slightly less than impressed with what SOCOM has to offer.

In particular, the controls. It’s not so much the regular controls that I despite than, ironically, the Move controls. You see, when I find a game which supports Move there’s a certain excited child in me who immediately rushes to the drawer to dig out the mostly-neglected Move controller and gun shell. Armed with this, and a standard PS3 Controller ( No, Sony, NO! I am not paying more money for half a freakin’ controller, okay! ) I gleefully attempted to master SOCOM which had done its best to bore me half to death in regular-control mode.

Little to my knowledge, however, the developers of SOCOM 4 had thrown away their Dual Shock controllers and used Sony’s idiotic, money-grubbing half-controller in its stead… leaving me with a control scheme that demanded physically impossible combinations of button presses no matter which control scheme I chose. I don’t know if this scheme is any less broken when you have one of Sony’s aforementioned half-controllers, but without one the combinations range between impossible all the way to “what the frack!?”

Such wonderful combinations include holding down both the L2 button, and the Move button atop the “gun” whilst simultaneously finding an extra hand to press the trigger. This is possible, more or less, without the gun attachment… but, good god, I’m not going to wave a naked move controller around in an FPS game… what madness is that!? Okay… this whole control scheme is probably my own damned fault for insisting on using the gun shell, but a little testing with this lovely accessory wouldn’t have gone amiss!

Actually, aside from the self-inflicted problems with controls, they are generally awful. Having to press two buttons simultaneously to go into full-scope, having no way to lock into iron-sight mode and having different buttons for crouch and prone make up a few more. These awful choices go hand-in-hand with the press-and-hold-R2-and-then-also-a-direction-to-select-a-weapon, instead of, you know, just pressing a direction. Squad commands should be on the modifier key, comprendais?

Admittedly somewhat self-inflicted control terribleness aside, the graphics in SOCOM 4 are, for lack of space and inclination to write a string of expletives infinitely long, utterly horrible. Characters and faces are fairly abysmal, which would be forgivable if any of the drivel they spouted was remotely believable in this explosion-fest train wreck of a shooter. It feels like a hark back to the grainy-horrible graphics of the PS2, but graphics aren’t everything and games like BLACK on the PS2 are so, so, SO much better than SOCOM 4 that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was all just some sort of practical joke on fans of the series.

Indeed, a quick Google shows that SOCOM fans seem to side with me in my opinion of this single player nonsense. The whole cover-shooter mechanic reeks of some sort of horrible off-rails time Crises… a bit like the horrible off-rails Time Crises that came out for Move actually. The endless stream of rocket-launcher rockets, seemingly unlimited and omnipresent airstrikes, godawful feeling, unrealistic water-pistol guns and incomprehensible, thick-accent voice acting just make the whole experience unbearable… on top of the fact that the action is now so utterly run-of-the-mill it’s positively yawn inducing.

SOCOM 4 is a prime example of what happens when developers try to balance fan service, with creating a dumbed down accessible bore-fest to satiate the desires of the hordes of drooling, brainless kids who have latched onto FPS games since games consoles made them accessible and popular. Find that offensive? Good, you’re ruining gaming for the rest of us and you deserve it.

I’m not the first person to give SOCOM 4 a bad review, in fact I’m horribly late to the game. But I actually had to suffer through a few hours of this before I could honestly form an opinion of it. Just think about that for a moment… I’ll never get those hours back, ever!

I think I can safely say the following to any readers:

COD fans: laugh at SOCOM fans about how much their new title sucks, secretly wishing you weren’t addicted to such a watered-down sack of crap yourself.
Battlefield fans: Laugh at everyone else for not being cool. Whilst playing on your computer which cost more than a thousand Xbox 360s stuck together with solid gold.

Anyone I’ve missed? Oh well, this game is trash, but what did you expect from something that even has awful box art. How hard would it be to just listen to the fans and remake SOCOM 2?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011, Blog.