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LONG BLOG

Saying goodbye to Socom 4. A tale of woe.

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To any one who knows Lenigod at all, it should come to no surprise that I enjoy Socom quite a bit.

Which is why it slightly pains me to say that I've given up support on the title.



Previous to this date, I would ignore faults and short commings and somewhat blindly champion the game objectively, as best as I could, without sounding like a complete dolt. No longer shall I do such a thing. Single player, and standard multiplayer aside, I'm going to focus on one thing at this time, and that is classic multiplayer. The bread and butter of the Socom fanchise. The heart and soul of the game. The single reason people who enjoyed Socom in the past, have picked it up.

I guess to begin, we have to go back to the beggining for myself and sonys titular tacticle title.



It all begin with a rather wearily purchase of 'just another game', when I was younger, picking up (what some might call the holy grail of the series) Socom 2. Little did I know after my first adventure online, I would be hooked. The game was, save for the graphics, incredible in every sense of the word. The pacing was perfect, with tight controls to match. The guns sounded realistic, felt viceral and real, and required a large amount of skill to weild properly. The game had depth, style, and flare. I spent countless love filled hours glued to my t.v. screen, my ps2's fan blaring trying to keep up with the heat in my tiny bedroom, door closed so i could yell any obscenity I could think of to my opponents, without my parents hearing.

Above all in the game, two of the things that made it stand out compared to the other online games, where one life per round, and the undeniable weight of teamwork in every match. Every map was intentionally set up in a way that your team, if actions was pre-determined and executed together, could gain map control and keep choke points locked down. And each move and action you took, you took carefully and with consideration of your teams calls (ie: 2 guys north of the mountain, or what have you), for if you were spotted, and killed, that was it. That round was over for you.



It's this teamwork, this tension, and zippers attention to detail in the maps and the overall game play, that made me fall in love with Socom 2, Socom 3 and then combined assault.

And it's these things that are lost on the fourth installment of the game.

Now, before I get into the thick of it let me just clarify, I love Socom. It's one of my favorite franchises to date. I want Socom 4 to be the game it deserves to be. I know it's not nostalgia clouding my vision, Socom 2 was a fantastic title, and if the right changes where made Socom 4 could be a great game.

It's been 6 months since the launch of the game, and Zipper has heard the pleas of the community, but they have ignored the people with legitimate complaints. Credit where it's due, they have fixed the camera problems that plagued the game previously, and they have fixed some speed issues, so you can now finally keep up with those running around you. However major issues remain and still hinder the game to the point that it is near luaghable that they have not patched it yet.



First, the community of Socom . This doesn't pretain to online forums or discussion boards, this pertains exclusively to the game. First and foremost, Socom , on any platform, on any type of device, needs lobbies. In this game, people live and die by the relationships they build through the community. With a lobby, you can be sure, that all your friends are going to be is U.S West 4, every night, without fail. With a pure matchmaking build there is no way to be 100% sure you are going to play with a friend. Even with the very recent inclusion of a party system, the matchmaking needs to have a counterpart, and that counterpart is lobbies. Developers, listen to me when I say this. Keep matchmaking, I love matchmaking, it is the single best way to have a fair balanced ranked match. HOWEVER you need need need to have lobbies in your game.Ranked, unranked, what ever the case. Games like counter strike wouldn't be active today without lobbies. They let people get together so much quicker, easier, and overall it's 100% more convinient then getting 4 parties together in one matchmaking game. And another thing, for your matchamking, always update the queues. Socom 4's queues haven't even fucking changed once since the release of the game. The map abandoned? Yeah, it's its own queue. No one plays it. It's sitting there, stagnant. Zipper has been increasinly proficient in finding ways to devide their player base. Why even have a standard, custom and classic game type? On papper it may sound great, but in practice, it automatically splits the populace in your game into 3, and splits it further so in which queue you decide to join.

Secondly, the gun play. In any shooter, how the guns feel, react, sound, and control are vital to a fun experience. Gun-play is one of the major reasons Killzone 2 and 3 are fantastic games. Go fire a revolver in Killzone, and come back and tell me how awesome and fun that weapon is to use. None of that exists in Socom 4. No gun sounds quite right. The smgs feel like paintball guns, but are more effective then any other weapon. The shotguns feel like shooting spit balls at the enemy, and are about as effective as that at the closest of proximity. The snipers sound like they put an intern in a recording both and told him to make gun noises with his mouth. And the Assault rifles, while having probably the only real visceral feel to them, are so inaccurate with the bullet spray, they are next to pointless to carry with you. These problems have been spoken about since the beta of the game. Yelled into megaphones and yet Zipper ignores all problems with the weapons, instead opting to add a center dot to the reticule, and slightly tweaking 'tap and fire' making your first shots more accurate. It's frustrating to see the assault rifle, the main weapons of the game, ignored. Literally, right now if you go play a classic game, you will find half the people in the game running around with a smg, and the other have camping to offset the problems with the weapons they are using.



Thirdly, the maps. There are no great maps in Socom 4. None. Some of the maps are passable, and work to an extent, but none of them are well done. Even abandoned, the map from Socom 1, still, doesn't quite work for the mechanics of Socom 4. You know how I applauded previous Socom maps for inherently encouraging team work, with choke points and what not. None of that exists in any Socom 4 map. If you were to take a map, strip it of all the clutter and remove the chest high walls scattered throught the map, you would end up with a square. That's it. The maps are far to open and wide for any tactical advantage or map control to be gained. You'll end up being open to an almost 360 feild of view, no matter where you stand. You can get grenaded, or sniped from almost every position. It's almost heartbreaking to think of the little amount of care and consideration some of these maps get.

I want Socom 4 to be great, so badly. There is a good game underneath all the shit and muk that is there right now. Dozens of changes, tweaks, and revamping of the code need to be done to accomplish this, and at this point in time I don't think Zipper has the intention to ever fix some of these issues. If they did, how long will I have to wait? A year, Two years? more? Whats going to happen next year, maybe Socom 5? mag 2? Zipper seems to have taken an awkward step sideways with the development of Socom 4, opting for adding needless 'next gen features' to the game instead of polishing and refining gameplay. Again, all this breaks my heart, I would love for Socom to be the game I think it could be, but it just simply, objectively, isn't a good game at all.

TL;DR disregard women, play video games.
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About Lenigodone of us since 2:42 PM on 10.19.2009

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