inFAMOUS - Review
By Dillon - June 16, 2009
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Incredibly addicting online gameplay where teamwork is a must.
The SOCOM series has always been the flagship online title for Sony's last-gen console, but with the new developer Slant 6 at the helm, can the newest entry in the series live up to the past? Yes, but it has some problems that need to be ironed out first. The graphics are not amazing by any standards, but SOCOM games have never been about looks. The audio is strong but the gameplay is the real standout here. There are a lot of issues with the game's servers right now, unfortunately, but many of the same problems had occurred with all the previous SOCOM games. If you can get past the problems persisting at the moment, you'll be justly rewarded with intense team-based tactical shooting.
The past games in the SOCOM series have never been real lookers, but they always got the job done. The same can be said about Confrontation's visuals. The graphics are clean and nice to look at but the textures are a bit unimpressive. The lighting can be fantastic on many of the levels, with a good contrast between day & night. The environments themselves can be downright massive and with lots of detailed particle effects floating around, it's amazing that the framerate holds up so nicely. It rarely dips even in intense 32 player shootouts. There is some mild screen tearing and some pop-in but overall the game is pretty, if a bit bland on some levels. It's also worth noting that the menu presentation is a little lackluster. The menus themselves look ok and they're not too hard to navigate, but there is a fair amount of lag in all accounts of all the options on all the menus. It's in no way game breaking but it is very noticeable.
This soldier is not prepared for nighttime battle.
The audio in Confrontation is quite impressive, with great sound effects and some decent music. The score won't win any awards but it doesn't distract you or sound bad enough to turn off. The sound effects are the star here, especially that of the guns. You can really hear the power of your guns and feel the impact of your bullets. It adds a lot to a shooter when the guns sound as powerful as they should. The environmental ambiance is also good, with some nice effects going on in the background. Another plus to the audio is the quality of the mic's sound. Teamwork is a necessity in this game so it's really great that the mics sound good. Only one player can speak at a time which cuts down on the background ambient feedback and inconsistent chatter of too many people trying to talk at once.
The gameplay is really where this title shines. There are so many options while controlling your fully customizable SEAL(or mercenary) on the battlefield. You have the ability to melee, jump, go prone, aim over the shoulder, use the classic SOCOM view, roll sideways in prone(a la MGS4), sprint, taunt, and the list goes on. Because of all these maneuvers at your disposal the controls can be a bit complicated. Yes, there is a learning curve to them but once you get used to the controls you'll be moving like a true SEAL... or Mercenary. It might come as a surprise to long time SOCOM vets but if you're used to always playing as a SEAL, things have changed. You will now switch teams halfway through a game so that everyone plays on both sides of the field and both sides of the conflict. Some other big changes have been made to the series structure.
Watch as the SEAL stocks his prey... a fish.
Some vets will be put off by these changes and some will love them, either way Confrontation retains enough of the former games in the series to still feel like a SOCOM game. Teamwork is still the fundamental aspect of the game. If you do not work as a team, communicate as a team, and act like a team, you will more often then not fail as a team. Good thing then that in my experience with the game almost everyone had a mic and almost everyone communicated well with each other. This is still a great community for gaming like it always has been in the past.
The environments are all pretty much fantastically built, partly due to a number of them being from the original games. Don't worry though, the new maps are also great and blend in well with the old. There are a good amount of maps and most have large and small variants. You may also change the time of day which can drastically change the way you play. Each map feels distinct and different from one another and all are fun to play on.
The gameplay itself is very smooth and just as good as ever. Gone are the vehicles from SOCOM 3 and combined assault which many fans were divided about. Personally, I prefer the ground to the jeep any day. It makes the game feel much tighter and more intense. All the classic modes have returned and all are still just as fun as ever. You have your standard deathmatch games, to your hostage games, to your breach games. This is definitely a game for the fans. If you've never liked the previous games, this one probably won't change your mind, but vets should feel right at home.
A view to kill.
SOCOM: Confrontation is a sweet package overall. It looks good, sounds great, and plays beautifully. The only real significant problem with the game is the damn servers. I'm not going to review this game based on something that will certainly be fixed in time, but rather on how the game plays... and it plays great. It may be a hassle to get into a game, and there may be problems with the servers, but as I mentioned earlier all the original games had similar problems, as do most online games at launch. Once these problems are taken care of, SOCOM will make a great addition to any collection of a gamer looking for great team-based online shooting. I would recommend waiting for an inevitable patch if you really don't have the patience for screwy servers. Otherwise, I would absolutely recommend it to hardcore fans of the series and curious players alike.
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