Frustrations aside, "SOCOM 4" is an intense and immensely satisfying tactical venture.
Tactical Gameplay Is Effective
Friendly AI is Really Intelligent
Graphics Are Good
Music is Well Crafted
Fun Maps to Battle Within
Some of the best stealth missions in current generation gaming
Story Is Somewhat Weak (Mostly Towards the Beginning)
Campaign/ Multiplayer can get incredibly frustrating with difficulty
It seems sort of weird for me to jump into "SOCOM 4", considering the fact that this is the first SOCOM game I've ever played. I was never really allowed to explore the mature games of the PS2 when I was growing up (considering my parents were fairly strict on the games I could play), and the recent PSP outings had their fair share of problems, mainly due to the lack of a second analog. Now that I am 19 years of age, I can buy any game ever crafted, and for the very first time, I picked up a chapter of the long standing SOCOM franchise.
Off the top of my head, the story revolves around a group of NATO operatives trying to resolve conflicting militias in the country of Malaysia. The commander is referred to by many as a "psychopath", due to his questionable decisions within army campaigns. Through the small group's struggle within a wartorn nation, they begin to discover there is more going on then they previously believed, and different decisions may need to be made.
In the beginning of the game's initial set up of story structure, I found myself fairly confused with how these events were supposed to be playing out. Maybe it's because I've never played a SOCOM game before. Whether that's true or not, one of my few complaints is that Zipper Interactive doesn't do the best job of introducing the story to newcomers. Who knows...maybe I'm just not smart enough to figure it out on my own.
Setting that complaint aside, however, I must point out how satisfying of a tactical experience SOCOM 4 is. While I've played a number of third person shooters in my time, SOCOM 4 made sure to do enough alterations to itself to make sure it stood out from the growing shooter market. The tactics you can assign your fellow squad-mates is simple enough for tactical shooter newcomers like me, yet sophisticated enough for SOCOM fans to enjoy. Not to mention the fact that your fellow soldiers are quite the intelligent socialites. Unlike most shooter these days, SOCOM 4's soldiers actually feel like they are completely thinking on their own, and sometimes, your inputs aren't even necessary; as your squad-mates will take care of the enemies you can't see. With this, I found myself really satisfied with how the events were playing out; thanks to the intelligence of myself and the friendly AI.
While your fellow minute men are interesting to hear and work along side, they don't compare to hooking characters that are the Commander and "Forty-Five". They are the only two players the user can play, and both are incredibly interesting to learn about and even more appealing to play as. The Commander is mainly for assault missions, while Forty-Five is for stealth. Both sections are awesome to play through, but the stealth deserves the most attention, because there are very few games that have as satisfying stealth gameplay as this. It literally feels like you are creeping through the shadows; making your way to plant a homing device or bomb, how easy it can be to spotted and how not everything is a simple area to shoot your way through. If you don't want to pick up this title for its action, at least pick it up for its stealth; it ranks among some of the best stealth I have played in current gen games (Along side Call of Duty 4, Uncharted 2/3, and Metal Gear Solid 4).
The combat is intense, the music is beautiful, the graphics are pretty good, this game has just about everything it needs to be a perfectionist gamer's dream come true. The problem is, SOCOM 4 isn't quite up to par with such perfection. Other than the relatively weak story structure mentioned before, the game's difficulty is a pressing matter that must be discussed. Even on normal difficulty, I found myself dying multitudes of times throughout just ONE level! I know this game is trying to be as realistic as possible, but sometimes it feels as though its unfair to the user such as the instances where you're behind cover and die from an immediate head shot. I lost track of how many times this happened to me, but single player's difficulty is nothing compared to the initial difficulty of multiplayer! Call of Duty is child's play compared to the frustrations you will encounter playing the multiplayer. People got too good, too fast, and there are too many "noob-tubers" throughout the maps that kill you instantly. When the multiplayer isn't so difficult, it is wondrous and satisfying to play through. It;s just sort of sad to know that such matches don't happen too often. Maybe it's my lack of experience with the franchise, but that only makes it worse; considering that saying such a statement means Zipper is only trying to appeal to the hard core gamers and not newcomers.
Nevertheless, if you can manage to look past the game's difficulty spikes, SOCOM 4 is both engrossing and fun to play. If you manage to be a better player then I am currently on multiplayer, you will probably look past my difficulty faults and enjoy this experience even more then I have.
Though not the best the PS3 can offer, Zipper Interactive does a good job with creating pretty and expansive environments.
Tactical decisions are a good change of pace for a shooter swimming in a sea of run of the mill TPS's, and the action is just as satisfying
Beautiful music, realistic gun sounds, and terrific voice acting adds up to a perfect blend of "soundplay" for SOCOM 4
One of the weaker aspects of SOCOM 4. While the story undoubtedly picks up throughout the game's run, the beginning may leave newcomers confused.
Moderately High. Multiplayer and single player trophies will leave gamers coming back for more, so long as the frustration doesn't take its toll.
I will continue to delve into SOCOM 4's multiplayer to see if I can become better at such a frustrating experience. Do not let my irritations with this game detract you, if you're looking for some good action to play through, SOCOM 4 is your game.
8.5/10 or 4/5