SOCOM: Confrontation Hands-On

We have a go on the controller as Slant Six talks about community features, new maps, and the bundled Bluetooth headset.

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To this day, the SOCOM franchise remains the most popular of the PlayStation 2's online repertoire. But as the first game in the series to arrive on the PlayStation 3, the upcoming SOCOM: Confrontation faces a far different climate than its predecessors. With online connectivity out of the box and a much more painless network-registration process, PS3 owners already enjoy a wider selection of online shooters. So how do the folks at Sony and Slant Six plan on competing in this new market? To answer that question, we were recently treated to a developer demo showcasing some of the game's new features, capped off by our own chance to play this tactical third-person shooter.

Although the maps are all set in North Africa, they have plenty diversity in terms of appearance.

Among the most ambitious features in SOCOM: Confrontation is the broad palette of community tools soon to be available through the official Web site, SOCOM.com. Instead of taking the standard route of using the game's Web site to advertise a scant few bullet points and screenshots, Sony and Slant Six plan on delivering a portal for you to organize a variety of aspects relating to your personal playing time and your clan. The series is already known for having built-in clan support, but now the Web site will add even more to that. The two big features relating to clans are tournaments and ladders. With tournaments, you can sign up online and check out brackets and information on the other teams. When you've signed up online, matches are automatically set up in the game itself; you just boot up the system and the preset match options are already in place, ready for the clans to compete.

Clan ladders use a similar system of automated matches, but with a bit more vigilante flair to the proceedings. Rather than using a ranking system that organizes clans based on their total number of wins and so forth, the clan ladder organizes groups based on who they've defeated and who they've lost to. Consequently, you can challenge the group above you to a match, and if you win, you'll move ahead of them on the ladder. When you challenge a clan, the lobbies are all preloaded, just like with tournaments. And if you're just in it on your own, it looks like you'll be able to track your own personal progress as well. You keep track of your level, ranking, medals you've earned, and other miscellaneous stats related to your performance. We even noticed a body-shaped heat map on the personal-profile mockup, perhaps letting you know all of the places where you've been shot in your playing time.

But if all this Web 2.0 business isn't your thing, you can rest assured knowing that there's still a game driving all of it. And that new game has plenty of interesting features as well. As you may have heard, Confrontation will be a multiplayer-only affair like Warhawk, available either through the PlayStation Network or in retail outlets at a reduced price. The final game will offer seven maps and seven gameplay modes. However, maps aren't exclusive to any one mode and can be mixed and matched. The map total includes five new maps scalable to 8-, 16- and 32-player matches, and two classic maps with 16-player caps. The gameplay modes encompass all of the modes featured in previous games, including classics such as team suppression, escort, control, and elimination.

The 32 player versions of the maps are quite expansive.

All of the maps offer the same general North African setting, which will eventually change with downloadable maps. The one we got to play is called Casbah. This one is set in a walled fortress that features numerous courtyards, stairways, bridges, and even a pair of towers that can be strategically demolished in certain game modes. This map seemed to provide a nice balance between cramped corridors and wide-open areas ripe for large-scale firefights. Another new map that we were shown is Quarantine. Although we didn't get to play it, we were told that it's very symmetrical and has a sort of industrial water-complex scene, with pipes that react to the sound of hot water running through them in uncompressed 7.1 surround sound, an area in the game that Slant Six appears to be very proud of.

Whether you're already in the match or strolling through the pregame menu, you'll be able to customize several aspects of your character. This includes being able to alter your primary and secondary weapons in addition to your sidearm. Each weapon can be modified with two attachments, whether they're suppressers, grenade launchers, sights, scopes, and so on. You can also customize your character by choosing which of five real-world elite military units you belong to, the type of camo you wear, and armor classes for your legs and torso. If you want to make a German KSK operative who looks like a lollipop due to light leg armor and superheavy torso armor, you can feel free to make that choice.

In terms of controls, perhaps the biggest addition to Confrontation is the way that Slant Six is using the Sixaxis. There's no real sticky-cover system to Confrontation, so instead what you'll do is stand behind an object and gently tilt your controller to lean to the side. As you do this, you'll see your character's torso bend to peer past the corner. Given that soldiers in the game automatically crouch when they're at a halt, you can tilt the controller toward you to make him stand as you're leaning. In our hands-on session, we were surprised by the subtlety of movement that this mechanic offers. It's easily one of the most interesting uses for the PS3's motion-sensitive controller to date. And just like Metal Gear Solid 4, you can quickly choose which shoulder you're looking over by using the D pad with the standard layout. However, a multitude of layouts will be offered, including classic control settings.

Your character's appearance can be heavily customized.

One of the other interesting things that you'll notice about your movement in the game is how you interact with walls. When you're facing a wall and sitting right up against it, your gun will automatically go into the cold position, which means that it's held down and unable to fire. You'll need to back away from the wall to give yourself some space to lift up your gun and aim. The amount of space you need depends on the gun, so if it's a sniper rifle, you'll need plenty of breathing room if you're using a burned-out car as cover.

Other interesting little touches like that one litter the maps. For example, you can see brass casings lying on the ground from a recent firefight and birds flying in the sky that can be shot out of existence with a mildly disturbing puff of feathers. And though the environments and characters don't quite look on par with some of the more visually stunning shooters like Call of Duty 4, the levels still offer great detail for their size and character movement, and animations feel very authentic. In fact, character models even display exit wounds when shot. The sound is also coming along nicely, with the wide range of weapons offering their own distinct combat voices.

Finally, Slant Six also took a moment to show off the Bluetooth headset that they've been working on. Although you can buy the game via the PSN, the retail version will come with a sleek little headset that promises to be head and shoulders above the Warhawk model. It will also come with a charge stand and the option to mute yourself, something that the Xbox 360 headset offers but that very few Bluetooth models have managed to achieve.

A work-in-progress version of the bundled headset and dock.

All in all, SOCOM: Confrontation is looking like what fans of the series should be hoping for out of the first PS3 iteration. Beyond being bigger and prettier, it's got more than a few interesting and ambitious features worth anticipating. We'll have more coverage on Confrontation as its fall 2008 release draws closer.

Discussion

182 comments
brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

fatmike2127
fatmike2127

this game looks good, but i think i would rather save my money for resistance 2 or the new call of duty

chad433
chad433

finyo83, I'm pretty sure they are waiting for a patch to come out to fix the bugs before reviewing the game since if they did review it now they could underrate it's potential.

razarocks
razarocks

Seems like a great online game. A thinking man's game like Metal Gear Online, a nice change from the mindless Halos and Counter-Strikes of today. That said, there are times when all you want is a little brainless entertainment where all you have to do is point and shoot.

finyo83
finyo83

two days after the game launch and still no review? wtf

Fox_Hound28
Fox_Hound28

Loved previous Socoms,cant wait to see this one!

dsciandra
dsciandra

Been a part of the BETA, this is an awesome game. They had some server issues / lag, but have released 2 updates while I played the beta, fixed the issues and it is a worth the buy.

ph1nn
ph1nn

Holy crap I can't wait for this game. I love online games and this, if done right, could be the best ever

dkell2
dkell2

This game has to be terrible. Getting no hype whatsoever with only a few days till launch. Online only with no split screen = pass for me.

ErkiB
ErkiB

This is for me Going back Old-School.I love Socom Probably my favorite shooter game ever made.I hope they make more and more.

Bosox34
Bosox34

This is going to take me back to my roots of online shooters

DeadZone21
DeadZone21

The cool thing about Socom: Confrontations, is that its customizable. It sounds really nicely done from what gamespot has said. Also, I am so glad they are putting exit wounds on character models, I can't begin to explain how much I hate it when 3rd-person shooters, or 1st-person shooters, don't show a marking where you hit your target. They seem to have gone where games should go when it comes to AK-47 rounds piercing your flesh.

burstlimit514
burstlimit514

ok im getting this! it looks and sounds cool plus problably for an extra 10 dollars a blutetooth.

Timb3rWolf
Timb3rWolf

This game looks EXACTLY like GRAW2.

EliteCouncilor
EliteCouncilor

Are you going to buy the headset, and why or why not? Please message me for the answer.

football_legend
football_legend

Looks to take the crown of the most played PSN game............until Resistance 2 and KZ 2 is released....but who knows.

rodolfotramos
rodolfotramos

I've alredy reserved my copy yesterday. I've been playing Socom since the first one came out.

jadyaacoub
jadyaacoub

there isnt single player in this game??

jadyaacoub
jadyaacoub

there isnt single player in this game??

BrianMX34
BrianMX34

I am sooooo lucky that this game is coming out on my birthday!!!!!! So I can garuntee that I'll be one of the first to get it:)

mfortune
mfortune

I got a Playstation just for this game, and can't wait to play it. I hope they keep the same old Socom on the new system with better graphics, and smoother game play.

white_jaguar
white_jaguar

This looks good. I really hope it doesnt run into online problems. Also the headset better be good, this game is the reason I am waiting to buy a headset for my ps3.

mikewalsh69
mikewalsh69

does anyone know if socom will use dedicated servers???

t3rray
t3rray

1 of the best online heavy hitters of the playstation is almost here. I cant wait to create my on soldier so i can actually see his gear and clothing like on metal gear solid 4!

emilovitz1994
emilovitz1994

will there be a Demo version??, I hope so.(I would like to see how good you aim) but it looks like a online game I would buy...=;D...hope the PSN version is cheaper, but then, you don't get the bluetooth headset, that I really want.(hope its not as crappy as the warhawk headset, but eventually I would use it anyway or just bye one myself)

rwizzy3
rwizzy3

yo gonna b way better than cod4 in mean yea you dont have perks but 32 peep ,huge mapsl, and you get to custimize wat u look like so u dont have the same looking arabs

trffinal
trffinal

the game look nice but i hate games whit killing cams in i hope we can turn that off in the game

ANGELITO13666
ANGELITO13666

i love you guys who make socom games make this game batter take your time so i dont have to deal with gleachers no more plz thx keep up

marco245
marco245

Looks awesome. Goos to see they have changed the shooting perspective... Can't wait to "Rock the 'Casbah'" :D

jtm148
jtm148

Socom 1, 2, and 3 have been great. I cant wait for this one.

rex8000
rex8000

This game looks sick, hopefully the small maps are nice and fast paced.

Androvinus
Androvinus

I'm definately getting this. especially for the headset.

remofubu
remofubu

Def gonna be playing this game!!!

Scianix-Black
Scianix-Black

Lol, I don't care, gamespot. I just want my beta! x)

dazpen90
dazpen90

How can it be gay this game is gonna be brill just look at the graffics

thecakeisalie47
thecakeisalie47

peavey321, I GUARANTEE you are an xbot or foolish (wait....difference?)

peavey321
peavey321

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

xXAcidXx
xXAcidXx

yo whens the beta on qore gonna be available???

al-masri
al-masri

Good thing they delayed it....about time that game developers listen to criticism in previews

LazyGamer_24
LazyGamer_24

I can't wait for this game too come out because I'm just getting my PS3. It looks so good by seeing the videos. I'm looking forward to it.

BoaMo121
BoaMo121

wonder if you can play this using stealth. like in MGO sneak up on somebody with a knife, even if you cant im still definitley buying this game.

Rocketinmypants
Rocketinmypants

can someone tell when its really coming because before i saw SEP 16 and now its says OCT 14 which is the real date