The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
SOCOM: Confrontation gives the series a PlayStation 3-worthy makeover, but it plays like it was forged out of a rusting boilerplate. Everything from the interface to the controls to the game modes screams old-school, which is bound to please the built-in SOCOM fanbase. Newcomers might be turned off by its lack of innovation and of any kind of single-player experience.
The series felt outdated even on the PS2, so it's a shame that Slant Six didn't take this as an opportunity to revisit large parts of the game's design. SOCOM apologists oddly keep clinging to many of the especially outdated portions of the gameplay, repeating the mantra that it's just the way the series is. The thing is, now there are so many better alternatives available that it's tough to justify some of the series' quirks.
Take the controls, for instance. If you've equipped a scope, you're required to tap up on the d-pad twice to look through it. You can swap between two weapons relatively quickly, but grabbing anything else in your arsenal requires a visit through a clunky radial menu. If you run while your night-vision goggles are on, they turn off, requiring you to flip the switch again. Players can create custom control schemes that alleviate some of these issues, but not all of the default commands can be changed. Fans will tell you that these are concessions toward keeping things realistic, but I doubt that a game that has a jump button and the option to dance on enemy corpses is fully committed to that vision.
While the game's modes are standard fare, the maps are some of the best I've played. They've been designed with multiple routes and have plenty of places for camping and for sneaking up on campers. The larger ones are huge, but they're not so big that you won't ever find anyone to shoot. Weapons are varied, though they don't seem to be as effective (or consistent) as you might expect. For all the talk of accurate bullet modeling, something doesn't seem right, demonstrated by people absorbing and surviving multiple headshots.
If you've enjoyed past SOCOM games and are looking for a better-looking version of what you've played before, check out Confrontation. It's fun in a way that just about all multiplayer games are - you're sharing an experience with real-life opponents. If you'd like to play something with fresh ideas and a thick sheen of polish, though, keep marching.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Nope, SOCOM hasn't gotten any better. The control scheme still beggars belief with its awfulness ? even though it lets you remap functions wherever you like, the horrendously cumbersome zoom mechanic still constantly gets in the way. The front end is archaic as ever, forcing users to choose a ''channel'' with a 256-player cap and then browse for a game within that. On the plus side, the map design in this online-only iteration is great ? if I could play Counter-Strike on these boards, I'd be ecstatic. Fans of the franchise, questionable though their taste may be, will have a blast with Confrontation. When the game is at its best, with massive battles being decided by the skills and teamwork of close-knit groups of players, it's easy to see why it has a dedicated fanbase. Unfortunately, the game's many mechanical issues prevent it from hitting those highs far more often than not.