Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What it means to "get" SOCOM

I've been using this term a lot lately, people that "get" SOCOM. Over on the IGN boards I was asked by a poster what exactly it means to "get" SOCOM. I made a bit of a long explanation, so thought I should share it with all of you on what, in my opinion, it means to "get" SOCOM.

It wasn't really clear to me that the media didn't understand this franchise until SOCOM 3 hit...and it got amazing reviews. One of my favourite (as in so obscenely obtuse) lines being from the IGN review of SOCOM 3, "SOCOM 3 is packed to the brim with new features, content, game types and more that will no doubt quench the parched thirst of SOCOM fans everywhere"...lol ya right. It should have been blasted.

SOCOM 1/2 have a ton of depth, some of the best maps ever in any online shooter (built around 1 mode, incredibly unique, amazingly paced, asymmetrical, so many 'spots' that players could get to that in many cases weren't discovered until months after release, etc), great gunplay, the best online lobby system I've ever experienced, round-based gameplay that is a lot different than what you see in most shooters, and an incredibly dedicated community on top of all that. Even with all it's technical issues (frame rate drops, hit detection problems, occasional network issues that caused you to drop) the people who got into it were able to look past those issues and have a really great experience.

People that "got" SOCOM realized very quickly that SOCOM 3's online was broken. Wide open spaces of nothing, vehicles that dominated the game and were poorly implemented, a frame rate that was even worse than the first two, uninspiring, dull and boring maps, etc. There was a lot wrong with the game, yet it still got great reviews because it hit those special bullet points, "Vehicles", "32 players", "Big maps", "Multiple modes per map", etc. This is one of those things that really piss me off in the gaming media today. It's become about the bullet points rather than what makes the game actually fun.

No vehicles, less players, and smaller maps DO make these games better. Not everyone has to do the same thing with a "bigger is better" attitude. The gamers/media complains that everything is the same, yet if there online shooters aren't all massive, epic-scale, everything but the kitchen sink, games, they cry about it.

That's not to say that every person who reviewed the game was this ignorant to what was happening to out favourite online gaming franchise at the time. I tried to convince myself for at least a month that SOCOM 3 was good and not broken. But then you start noticing that feeling you had for the first two wasn't present in SOCOM 3. The number of players started to drop off. The people you played with on SOCOM 1/2 weren't coming on as frequently anymore. Until finally you gave up and came to terms with what had happened.

Maybe I'm being slightly melodramatic, but I'm sure most of you went through a similar experience. Zipper tried something different with SOCOM 3 after the media, and many fans, pushed them into it, thinking it would make the game better. The fans quickly discovered it didn't, while the majority of the media breezed over it like they did with every SOCOM game prior, didn't "get" what had happened, and gave it high critical acclaim due to all the features it was packed with. Even though the majority of those features took away from the experience.


poprocker said...

You are right. Socom 1 and 2 were the only games i played "Religously". My clan had scheduled days where everyone would be on. You didn't ever want to miss ONE night of Socom gaming.

Unfortunately Socom 3 was the beginning of the end. Slowly but surely clan members started playing less and the few remaining ones left to join new more active clans. The thrill was gone....so much that i didn't even care when CA came out. I had moved on.

A few of us moved on to other games, but no game (GoW, CoD, GRAW) gave you that feeling of satisfaction like Socom.

Now that Socom:Confronation is in the spotlight once again, i've got old clanmates EXCITED about gaming again. I know 2-5 people that are waiting for confrontation to come out before they buy a PS3. I haven't been this excited about a game release since....well...Socom 2.


I agree with you David. I wasn't able to play the original SOCOM online, but loved every minute of playing SOCOM II online. That experience is the single most entertaining, thrilling time I've ever had playing any game.

I can still remember my heart pounding during clan wars or even during public games when the matches became intense. I hope SOCOM Confrontation gives rebirth to those feelings.

Now, SOCOM 3 was fun for a brief while, but being that I love the 8v8 style of play, it became old rather quick. I will admit that the patch they released in the summer of 2006 helped the game out a lot, but it still didn't make it SOCOM or SOCOM II. All in all, the game was broken from the get go.

I haven't played any SOCOM for about a year now, but SOCOM Confrontation has me excited and I can't wait to see more news here in the next month. My PS3 doesn't get a lot of playing time right now, but I have feeling that will change very soon...

Keep up the nice work here David, I check this everyday now like I do the PSU forums because its organized info from a fan that loves the game. Awesome stuff!

Jo-DaNe said...

I agree I could never actually get addicted to Socom 3, too boring. But I was dissapointed that this new socom will also have big/small maps with varying objectives. Socom 2 had better maps because of one objective, meaning the map could be FINE TUNED to that one objective. Also 32 people is way too many I think it should have been maxed at 8v8. Seems like they really didnt "get" wut people "got" about socom perfectly

Jarrod said...

Goodness I wish I had the energy to give a great reply, telling you how much I agree, but I just don't have the energy. I felt those exact same same feelings you spoke of... you put me in a Socom II glory "daze".