March 13, 2008 // 11:26 pm
- With the recent announcement that EGM's next cover story will feature Socom Confrontation, one can't help but get excited for the game, especially after it seemed to have fallen off the map last winter in terms of announcements and news.
The Socom franchise has been the backbone to Sony's online service since late 2002, providing players with competitive gameplay and extensive clan support. To help fill the void between what's rumored to be Zipper Interactive's next entry into the Socom world, Slant Six has promised to give fan's a chance to relive that classic Socom feel, which was undoubtedly absent from both Socom 3 and Combined Assault, by bringing back old maps such as Crossroads and focusing solely on the online multiplayer aspect of Confrontation.
However to the fan, that's easier said than done. Here are five features that will make or break Socom Confrontation.
1) Ignore Matchmaking
One of Socom's featured perks was always the ability to choose which map, game type and server you wanted to play in at any time. Not only did these options give players the option to play whatever they wish, but it also allowed clans easy access to meet up with each other and begin playing almost immediately. This feature also gave stat fan's the chance of bypassing an easy loss by getting forced into a game near the end of a round, a feature that's become very annoying in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While the classic lobby system has been announced for Socom Confrontation, diehard fans are still wondering whether it will be styled like Socom 1 & 2 with easy navigational options, or the over-the-top layout that was used in both Socom 3 and Combined Assault. We choose classic!
2) Clan Support
So far Seth Luisi and the gang at Slant six have promised us the following:
Advanced Party Systems
Clan customization (Camo, Insignia, etc.)
Overall Clan Leaderboards
Now that sounds great, but when Socom fans want something, there's no giving up. Socom 2 granted clan members the option to see who all was online and which room they were playing in, aside from just your typical friends list. With that, clan leaders were also given the opportunity to post messages on your clan's main page, the same start up page you viewed when first logged in. While these features weren't entirely missing from the last two Socom entries, it was overhauled to the point where the process became quite tedious. Everything from here on out sounds great on Slant Six's end. It's almost impossible to believe an online-based shooter would launch with almost zero clan support, but somehow games like Rainbow 6 Vegas and Call of Duty 4 have managed to do so, slipping by with only the option of changing your clan tag. If the Sony summer firmware update rumors are true, In-game-XMB would definitely help the situation, but until then, there's no reason for developers to leave this feature out.
Everyone, except for the third party Wii developers, realizes that in this day and age, gamers will choose quality over quantity, and Socom fans across the world have felt that way since day one. Zipper never graced the Playstation 2 with visually stunning graphics, but what they did do was engage the user in full out 8v8 tactical shootouts that needed strategy and skill in order to become victorious. In the first two Socom entries, you had to think about where your opponent would go or where they would hide. Instead of throwing grenades trying to amass those random kills, you threw them to pin back the enemy from taking over a specific area in the stage, so you could get there first whether it was the bell tower area in Crossroads, the giant hill in Blizzard, or one of the dark alley ways of Sujo. Zipper made the mistake of believing that "bigger is better" in Socom 3 and the gameplay has went downhill from there. Along with maps and teams being doubled in size, both vehicles and boats were inserted to make the terrain seem smaller. With this, Suppression maps became one of the worst game modes to play, usually resulting in a 15 round draw, and instead of using vehicles for tactical reasons, many players thought it would be a great idea to hijack a Humvee and run people over. While games still remained somewhat competitive, gameplay just wasn't the same.
So here we are with Socom Confrontation, a few months away, with once again that promise that the "classic Socom feel" will be present. Then why are rooms still 32 player-based, and why in the world won't Slant Six just come out and state that vehicles won't be present? Die hard fan's don't want to hear "we haven't completely ruled them out," they want to hear that vehicles are completely gone, adding more depth to the tactical gameplay. Although Slant Six is also giving us the chance to make the newer stages more intimate, expanding classic maps like Crossroads may come back to haunt them. Remember that both Socom 3 and Combined Assault had those options, and they were rarely used. That's not to say there aren't any new exciting features though. Customizable weapons and character load outs make a comeback, along with all new voice chat features, destructible surfaces, and most importantly, the option of choosing the new over-the-shoulder look or classic Socom third person camera angles for your viewing pleasure. With hit detection and gun recoil still up in the air at this point, gameplay features are completely hit or miss. Here's hoping that Slant Six doesn't make the same mistake Zipper did.
4) Control Scheme
The transition from Socom 2 to Socom 3 obviously had its fair share of problems, but thankfully the control scheme wasn't one of them, completely. A few minor changes included changing you fire rate by holding L3 instead of simply clicking it and the disappearance of the Sure Shot and Lefty controller presets. There's one simple and easy fix to all of this - bring back old presets and add completely customizable control schemes. Not only does it give classic fans the option of choosing what preset they want, but it also gives them the chance to completely refigure their controller to fit any of their needs. Along with this, Slant Six should also think about adding a melee attack, one feature that's never been addressed in the Socom franchise, which is ironic since Navy Seals are all about stealth. Infinity Ward proved this to be a simple task with the R3 button, so why not issue the feature in this installment?
5) DLC & Home Support
This is quite possibly the most important feature for Socom Confrontation. So far we know that the game, both hard copy and PSN, will ship with at least five maps, one of them being Crossroads. Despite the seven different game types, five maps won't keep the Socom fan entertained forever, causing downloadable content to become a major factor in Confrontation's longevity. With more than enough fan favorites from both Socom 1 and 2, Slant Six should look into the three stage monthly map pack that Zipper once promised us during Socom 3. Character models and clothing options for both clans and single users would also be a major plus. Slant Six has already mentioned that they plan on having unlockable items as rewards for certain leaderboards, so new guns could also play a factor in the DLC ring. Adding Home support to the game just makes DLC, achievements, and awards seem all the more exciting.
We've already heard about how games such as Warhawk and Resistance: FOM will be integrated into Home, and there's no reason that Socom Confrontation can't join the ranks of them. Clan rooms will allow players to practice and go over strategy for upcoming battles, while leaderboards and trophies, along with developer interviews and news, could be shown within the Slant Six developer's space.
The possibilities for Socom Confrontation are endless, and if there's one thing Confrontation has plenty of its potential. Whether or not Slant Six has actually listened to the Socom community is what we're waiting to see. Keep your eyes peeled for more information regarding Socom Confrontation to appear in the next few weeks, and don't forget to pick up next month's issue of EGM for complete hand's on analysis of Socom Confrontation.