After a considerable delay, SOCOM: Confrontation finally reaches European shores six months after its US release, and fans of the long-running series get to see if the wait has been worth it. With the amplified power offered by the PS3 and the increasingly robust PSN, there is every reason to be optimistic about Confrontation offering the most complete SOCOM experience yet. But is it accessible enough to increase the size of its fanbase, or will Sony have to resort to conscription in order to fill its servers?
If you’re looking for a title that’ll make you feel like John Rambo, stop reading and go and play Fiddy Cent’s latest adventure. This is not a game to be taken lightly; SOCOM’s online only, team-based combat is serious business that needs to be approached methodically, tactically and with a lot of patience. To this end, the amount of enjoyment that you’ll get out of the game is dependent on the degree of commitment that you are willing to put in, something that is both a blessing and a curse. Though massively deep and nuanced, the process of mining this depth can be both daunting and hugely frustrating – there are few other games out there that can make you feel like such a ‘n00b’!
For the newcomer, the first time you are dumped into one of the game’s seven large maps will inevitably prove to be somewhat of an overwhelming experience, for reasons both good and bad. The first thing that will hit you are the levels, which while visually are a long way from the grubby showmanship of Sony’s own Killzone 2, can be overpowering by their sheer size and detail. The large, complex maps are strewn with indicators of the lives that have been forced out by the fighting; fruit carts and burnt out cars line streets as rows of shops lie dormant. Subtle environmental effects such as heat hazes, dust clouds and the sight of distant explosions further bring the settings to life.
Though the level design is strong, the sheer size of the maps can work against the flow of play, especially in matches with smaller teams; often whole rounds can pass without you ever encountering a member of the opposition, and this neatly sums up much of the experience of SOCOM. Confrontation is a game so focused on recreating the realities of war, that it unfortunately also replicates the more frustrating aspects of conflict. This realism is also reflected in your vulnerability, with one or two-shot kills being the norm. While the unflinching commitment to authenticity is admirable, it’s hard not to think that a more enjoyable game could have surfaced had a few more concessions been made.
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