Joe Rybicki did an amazing job writing that 10-page piece. It details a lot of new stuff about the game and at the same time does a great job at proving to me that this is in fact the SOCOM game we've been waiting for. From the sounds of things, SCE and Slant Six did a lot of research into what made SOCOM 1/2 great, and what the hardcore fans want out of a new one, while still being able to introduce new, innovative, features that only help to evolve the experience rather than change it.
Some of these new things that really stand out for me are;
- The chat system - if you're playing with your clan, voice chat will be open for your clan only, but you can still hit L2 to talk to everyone on the team, and proximity chat is in full effect for your team AND enemies (so if an enemy is close by and you're chatting, they will hear it). This is something I've discussed in the past and I'm so glad it's being implemented.
- The handling of snipers in this no-fog experience - since its explained quite clearly that there is no fog in the updated Crossroads, instead of snipers taking over the map they have introduced a ton of new areas for cover on the ground. This way, snipers will really only be effective from above, and not at street-level (ie: no more proning on the street at the spawn and waiting for people to run around the corner with no place to hide). Also, this will create epic sniping battles between rooftops.
- The expanded Crossroads - what initially seemed like an afterthought actually has me kind of excited to try out 32 player rooms on expanded maps. For the expanded version of Crossroads, the outer ring introduces a new tower and a couple of interesting spawn points, while still keeping the layout intimate and close-quarters.
- The sprint - initially the idea of changing something about the gameplay scared me. But the way the sprint is explained actually makes it sound like a necessity and something that will fit perfectly into SOCOM. You can't just run around the entire map mowing down enemies. First of all, you can't shoot while running and when you are finished a sprint your character has a few seconds where he needs to bring his gun back in a firing position, a precious few seconds that you wouldn't have if an enemies rounds a corner right in front of you as you are in mid-sprint.
- The party system - First of all, the classic lobby setup is still present, thank god, but the way they are handling ranked matches with parties seems like a great addition to me. It sounds very much like Resistance, where you will create a party and the game will then go through a match-making process to place you into a ranked match. And this is really only essential to improve your entire clan ranking. Both Ranked and Unranked games have their own set of statistics, so even if you only want to stick with 'Unranked', you will still be privy to all of the statistical data that would be recorded from a Ranked match.
Honestly, after reading the article there really isn't much I can complain about. I guess the one thing I'm not too hot on is the return of Control Points, which I always felt was a mode that never seemed to 'fit' into the SOCOM universe, and honestly wasn't very fun to play.
Anyways, this issue is a must buy. In addition to the 10 page article there are some great screen shots showing how they've expanded Crossroads, great shots of the new map 'Urban Wasteland' (a working title which I hope they change to something that sounds like a SOCOM map), and great gameplay shots as well. I didn't see any of traditional 3rd-person mode, but they made it clear that traditional 3rd-person is STILL IN THE GAME. So don't worry.
P.S. And I almost forgot, remember that topic that Joe made about a month ago where some of our replies would make it into the magazine? Well, my comment is in there as well as a few others. I don't want to spoil who else though, so you better pick up the issue to see if your comment was chosen!