Hey SOCOM fans: You might want to sit down for this one. You know how you've been disappointed by how the series has drifted further and further from its roots? You know how the addition of vehicles, enormous maps, and Battlefield-style play modes have seemed to dilute the pure, tense tactical experience of the original game? You know how you've complained to Sony and Zipper about the perils of trying to make the series too accessible, too mainstream? They were listening.
When franchise head Seth Luisi took the stage at a Sony press event earlier this week to show SOCOM Confrontation, he made it clear that this SOCOM is for you -- the fans of the original SOCOM experience. "The gameplay in SOCOM Confrontation," says Luisi, "is what we like to call 'intimate 32-player team-based combat.'" You may deduce from this statement that Confrontation will be online multiplayer only. You would be correct -- and what's more, the game will initially be available as a download from the PlayStation Store (with a retail release hitting as well, potentially in a collector's-style package or Bluetooth headset bundle similar to what we're expecting from Warhawk).
But the key word in Luisi's statement is "intimate." Gone are the vast levels that made hunting down enemies so difficult and draws so common. Instead, Luisi promises "more dense, highly detailed environments that also have a lot of interactive elements." In a brief video, he showed a seriously revamped version of fan favorite map Crossroads. The market area appeared much more detailed, with what seemed to be destructible elements. It seemed to indicate the possibility of destructible -- or at least degradable -- cover, an addition that should strike fear into the hearts of anyone familiar with the already sky-high tension levels in a good SOCOM match.
But perhaps the most welcome feature of Confrontation isn't an addition at all, but rather a subtraction: "For the initial release, vehicles are out," says Luisi, to the nearly audible cheers of old-school SOCOM fans everywhere. "We are looking at possibly bringing them back later on in a downloadable update to the game. But initially, we want to focus on the combat, and making that as visceral as possible." Without the need to plan for vehicles, the designers are free to recreate the close-quarters, claustrophobic feel of the best of SOCOM's original multiplayer maps, with the kind of detail this generation of hardware can bring. This is a very good thing.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all SOCOM Confrontation screens.
This increased level of detail extends to your own character: You'll be able to customize your appearance more than in any previous SOCOM. It's not just for vanity's sake, though -- it's also for identity. "We allow clans to set up different uniforms," said Luisi. "The clan leader can design a look for their clan, change some of the camo patterns, some of the equipment options, and then users can still go in and customize their look individually, so they don't all look exactly the same."
The community support will extend throughout the life of the game. "We plan on having a lot of online events," Luisi says, "such as regularly scheduled team tournaments, clan ladders, and clan challenges and battles. But the game doesn't really end with the initial release. We'll be releasing regularly scheduled theme packs through the PlayStation Store. You'll be able to download content packs, which will have a combination of new game modes, new special forces, character cutomization options, weapons, and more." You can also plan on new maps coming down that fat pipe -- counting the expanded 32-player version of Crossroads, the initial release will ship with just five maps, all based in North Africa (future updates will offer new maps in new areas of operation).
While original designer Zipper has handed development of the game off to Vancouver studio Slant Six, from the tiny bit we've seen, it looks like the newcomers are up to the task. We can't wait to see more.