PS3 Review: SOCOM Special Forces

Get moving soldier!

I must confess, I’ve not quite enjoyed the recent SOCOM games…I’ve found them rather disappointing when compared to other tactical shooters like GRAW, Rainbow Six and Operation Flashpoint. But with Move support added into this new addition, maybe it can finally hit new levels of realism while improving the series, or perhaps not?

SOCOM Special Forces is set in Malaysia. The player controls Cullen Gray, unofficially called the “Ops Commander,” the leader of a 5-man NATO special forces squad deployed near the Strait of Malacca. He is accompanied by two operatives, American, British or Australian depending on game region, named Schweitzer and Wells as well as two South Korean operatives, Chung and Forty-Five. In some missions, the player will be in control of Forty-Five, performing various recon, sabotage, and stealth objectives. The plot stretches over a six-day period. The squad will fight both native rebels, known as “Naga”, and the mercenary group known as “ClawHammer”, the same mercenary group who funded and trained paramilitary soldiers in SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2.

SOCOM’s campaign is rather short at around 5-6 hours and it doesn’t exactly engage you into the story as it’s rather basic and predictable. The characters are walking clichés and not interesting at all, while the gameplay has changed a bit…it’s still lagging behind its competitors. I don’t know if it’s a glitch or not, but I had a devil of a time issuing orders to my squad-mates using the d-pad as instructed. There are also camera problems that seem to zoom in too much to your character during the most critical of moments.

The cover system still hasn’t reached Gears standards I’m afraid. You can’t run from cover to another area that you can use to avoid gunfire, unless you leave cover and run to it in a sloppy way that seems quite lazy from a design perspective. Move is supported, but I only used it to see if there was a major difference in gameplay and to be honest, there wasn’t. Your AI squad mates are also a bit daft at times, making those missions more frustrating than they have to be.

Now I only got a little time online as a few days after getting the game, PSN went down and at the time of writing, it still is so I was only able to put a little bit of time into the modes that were available and while it was much better than the forgettable campaign, it’s a bit sparse on modes and content. It was impressive to play with 32 players tackling new modes like Suppression (Team Deathmatch) and Uplink (CTF). There are other modes which are alternatives to territory modes and so on.

Visually, SOCOM Special Forces is a pretty ugly game by PS3 standards. Character models have decent lip-syncing, but they lack detail compared to other games on the system. The areas aren’t that nice to look at either, which is a shame. Voice-acting is pretty awful as well and a script full of holes doesn’t help either.

The Verdict

SOCOM Special Forces was meant to show that a big PS3 game can work with Move, but it seems to have made the series take two steps backwards as a result. There are some nice multiplayer modes, but it will wear thin quickly and the less said about the single player campaign, the better. Perhaps with updates and more content, it will improve…but as it stands, SOCOM Special Forces isn’t that special…