I received my copy yesterday through my mail and finished the campaign on hard difficulty. SOCOM 4 is nothing like the old predecessors. SOCOM 4 is new and is dubbed by its developers as the first "real" SOCOM for the PS3. I will try to give my review from a point of view from someone who has just played the series.
Let me give you a run down of the SOCOM series. It started back in 2002 for PS2 and with the release of network adapter. SOCOM 1 and 2 are very similar to each other. SOCOM 2 having more maps, weapons, and upgraded graphics as wells as online functions. SOCOM 3 was an upgraded version of SOCOM2. It redefined the series due to huge maps and playable vehicles. Combined Assault is basically an expansion pack for SOCOM3 . SOCOM 4 is technically the first real entry to the PS3 because it is complete with single player and multiplayer. Do not forget about the co-op. Confrontation is online only.
I'll start with the technical aspect of the game. It supports up to 32 players in a single room online as well as co-op. 3D and move compatible. Supports the headset (of course) and the brand new sharp shooter. It will have a future DLC which is I was looking forward to. Of course, the one player campaign (offline mode). The visuals of the game is very good. There are tons of details and textures to your environment and characters. Sometimes however, there are pop ups and textures that loads a little late. Explosions are bright and realistic that you can almost feel the heat coming right at you. Character animations while in cover are fluid. However, when running, they feel a little stiff.
Possible spoilers beyond this sentence. Don't tell me I did not give you are warning.
The single player or offline mode has a campaign and custom settings. Campaign is the story mode and you play as Ops-com and Forty-Five (Lt. Park of 707th) on some covert ops mission. There are 14 missions in total. Each missions unveil something that happened to Ops-Com in the past as well as some revelations behind Gorman. The story starts with a Gorman and 45 arguing because apparently Gorman sent 45's team to their death. Somewhere along the the campaign, it gets worse. She is only left with one team member - Chung. I don't want to break it down for thoroughly because there is a twist along the storyline. Anyways, moving on.
The AI on offline missions are intelligent even in easy mode. They know when to flank or when they are in need to take cover. However, sometimes the AI teammates you have gets in your way. Also, it gets frustrating how your teammates keeps on dying on elite. When they try to revive one of their own, they get killed themselves because of the fact that they don't care about their own safety. So you will end up trying to revive them all at the end.
The custom game for offline mode is pretty much like a campaign. There are few maps to play with and the enemies comes in waves. It can get very hectic sometimes in the hardest settings as the enemies will not stop giving everything they got right to you. It really immerses you to the heat of the battle. I would love to play this again when I get my surround sound system.
I tried the Move controller in the single player and I am not really satisfied with it. It is very accurate however, I think it is one of those things that you have to get used to. I still prefer the classic dual shock over the Move. The deadzone is pretty big for the regular Move without the Sharp Shooter peripheral. You have to point your crosshair along the edges of your screen to turn around. The move brings in a new experience with the game.
I am not sure what to talk about the online part since as of now, the PSN is down. I was in the beta but I am giving my thoughts on the final retail version so we will see when the PSN gets back up.
SOCOM 4 is indeed a redefinition of the series or maybe? I think Zipper has brought up all the things they have learned from the older versions and from the handheld series. The dynamic pop out of cover when you hold the trigger came from Fire Team Bravo 3. The missions reflect some from FTB3 - especially the helicopter fight scene. They brought the very customizable campaign from FTB3 where you can set the amount of enemies and objectives. Cinematic cut scenes were also found in this hand held series. If you have played FTB3 before playing SOCOM4, you will love it. It is basically it with much more improved things as if they have brought it to the bigger consoles. Also, the Clawhammer mercenaries from FTB2 are back.
I have to say that the campaign is too short and sometimes repetitive as you will notice since two missions will appear on the same map. 45 is indeed plays an important role until the end. I did not expect SOCOM 4 to be like the older SOCOMs since it has come a long way from the early years of the online gaming of the PS2. The gameplay is much smoother and more polished than previous versions. It lacks the originality that it had from SOCOM 2 which is most of the fans are crying about. Maybe the developers wants to break away from the series? For me, it does not sound like the last one we will see. There are many things ahead of this game such as DLCs and updates or even a expansion. It might become a classic.