The lights are on
Original developer Zipper Interactive is back for SOCOM 4 and is ready to take on the franchise’s reputation for lackluster single player.
This time around, players will take on the role of Ops Commander Cullen Gray over the course of a six-day battle against revolutionary forces in Southeast Asia. You’ll lead a squad of four other highly trained operatives from various areas of the world. Cutscenes will showcase the new focus on narrative and flesh out Gray’s relationship with his squad. Zipper’s using some of the same technology Naughty Dog used in Uncharted 2’s cinematics and it’s hired Hollywood cinematographers to frame the shots to ensure top notch production values and nuanced performances.
The area we saw was an urban jungle environment that looked like it had just been hit by an earthquake. By aiming at an area with your reticle and pressing directions on the d-pad, you can send in two separate pairs of soldiers to take position or attack a group of hostiles. This purposeful separation of your team into two distinct groups should make it easier for players plot battle formations on the fly by sending squads to different cover points with a couple button taps.
While the AI team members looked to hold their own against enemy soldiers, you can’t carelessly send them into the meat grinder at all times. If they’re in a bad enough position they will go down and require reviving. The balance on this is still under construction, but hopefully you won’t have to worry about babysitting the squad too much.
Even though SOCOM 4 looked to control perfectly well with the Dualshock, it also features compatibility with the new Move controller. The game has three aiming sensitivity settings - we started on the middle one, and soon moved to the "hardcore" setting, which didn't prove to be too intimidating or feel too loose. If there's a quibble we have with playing SOCOM 4 with Move it's that the face buttons on the sub-controller (the one with the analog stick) are a little small. The circle button is how you get into cover, so it can take some getting used to. Apart from shooting dudes with the controller, there are also contextual melee attacks such as stealth kills, rifle swings, and knife stabs.
Of course we asked about co-op and versus multiplayer, but Zipper isn’t talking about that aspect until later (outside of confirming 32-player online). We’ll have more on multiplayer as we near SOCOM 4’s fall 2010 release.