SOCOM 4 Hands-On

We grab the PlayStation Move and its sub-controller to shoot down soldiers in the slums level of Zipper Interactive's upcoming action game.

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Sony's PlayStation Move launch at GDC 2010 wasn't all about family fun and minigame compilations. There was a surprise announcement that core gamers wouldn't be ignored thanks to the inclusion of Move support in the recently announced SOCOM 4. We grabbed our Move and hunkered down behind enemy lines to see just how motion controls would be incorporated into this upcoming shooter.

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First up, you'll need not only a Move to play SOCOM 4, but also the sub-controller accessory Sony unveiled at its press event today. The sub-controller--which looks like the Move but without the glowing ball on top--features an analog stick, a D pad, four face buttons, and two other buttons on its underside. To play SOCOM 4, you"ll hold the Move in your right hand and the sub-controller in your left. Pointing the Move at your screen will shift the camera and targeting reticle, while pointing at the edges of your screen will turn your character around. Movement is done via the sub-controller's analog stick (forward, backward, and strafing). If this control scheme sounds familiar, that’s because it is: many Wii first-person shooters feature a similar control setup with the Remote and Nunchuk.

There are, of course, many more controls in SOCOM 4 than just movement. You shoot by pressing the trigger button on the Move, while going into cover is done by pressing the equivalent trigger on the sub-controller. Targeting is done by pressing the action button located on the top side of the Move, while throwing grenades is mapped to the circle button. As SOCOM vets will know, you'll have a squad to control, and these commands have also been handily mapped to the sub-controller. Pressing the sub-controller's bumper button will put the game in a pseudo-slow-motion mode, where you'll then be able to assign squad commands such as waypoints and targets via the sub-controller’s D pad.

The level being showcased at Sony’s press event was set in a slums area, which a representative from developer Zipper Interactive told us would appear roughly halfway through the game. The level featured many crudely built houses made of wood and corrugated iron and was set on several different levels. This proved to be a good showcase for the fine targeting the Move allowed, as enemies would descend from all directions. Gunning them down was a simple matter of point and shoot, and taking cover behind low walls and buildings was quite easy to do. Movement seemed smooth as well, although we didn't get much of a chance to try out various squad commands to see how seamlessly they would blend into the shooting experience.

The game is looking solid, but since it's still early in its development stage, we're expecting significant improvements in its looks in the months to come. As for the motion controls, our brief hands-on simply made us think how similar it was to first-person shooters on the Wii, although with an obvious visual upgrade. We'll need to get more time with SOCOM 4 on a normal Dual Shock to see which control scheme is preferable, but there looks to be ample opportunity to do that since the game is not expected to be released until the latter half of 2010.

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