This is the firs time you'll read something like this, but this review is going to be bias as hell. I've been a fan of SOCOM since I played the game when it first came out on the PS2. For me, the game was my first chance to play a quality online shooter on a console since I didn't bother playing some of the Dreamcast games online. I loved SOCOM 1, I loved SOCOM 2 and I hated everything after that because it was too much of trying to be a different game altogether. When I heard about the new SOCOM for the PS3, part of me was hopeful but another part of me said that they were going to screw it up again. I can say it now, this game is great and I give SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals Confrontation a 9.0/10. You can read the rest as it will back up my score and not whine about the BS of the network problems like the other game websites have done. This review is from a true fan of the game and a true gamer that's familiar with situations like this.
SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals Confrontation for the PS3 is the fifth game released on the home consoles and seventh overall including the PSP titles. The SOCOM series is a tactical shooter series meaning that it goes for realism. Your character does not take a hundred hits, doesn't jump super high, or use some sort of laser weapons. The weaponry is based on real life weapons and the developers make sure that the weapons in the game work just the same as they do in real life. In a fire fight, depending on whether you're running, standing or in prone position, your aim will improve or decline. If you take a shot to the head, you're dead, or take a few shots to the chest and you're done. This game is set in the real world and tries to capture that real world action.
Taking a page out of the Warhawk book, SOCOM: Confrontation is online only hence the lower price tag of $40($60 if you get the game with the official Bluetooth headset). For some people this is a downer that it's online only. I say to those people, go find another game to play. The only people that played the single player mode of the older SOCOM games were the ones that weren't good enough to play online. The only time I even touched single payer mode was when the servers were down and it was all I had to play. Getting rid of single player mode was the best idea because unless it was perfect, it would have received too much attention and brought the whole game down. The game was all about online play so might as well make it online only. When you get online, you have to create your character on both the mercenary side and commando side. Commandos are the special ops military units such as the US Navy Seals, the British SAS (Special Air Service), UOE (Spain's special ops) and other special op groups from different countries. The mercenaries, aka terrorists, don't have any special alignments with any country, just a general terrorist that you create. When creating your characters, you have choices from what they'll look like, what face paint they'll have, what weapons they'll carry and even what armor they'll wear. When choosing your weapons, you can add attachments to the weapons to improve the accuracy, add a scope for long range attacks or a front grip to lower the recoil.
After you've made your characters, it's time to jump into the fight. To get into a match, you first select a channel then select a room. The game types vary with games being 1vs1 up to 16vs16. The types of matches include the typical death match (suppression), territories (control), and demolition in which you pickup a bomb and plant it at the other team's base. There are also SOCOM specific game types which include Extraction (commandos save hostages held by the mercenaries), Escort (commandos protect 3 VIPs while the mercenaries try to take them out), and Breach (commandos break through the mercenary base to destroy a target within the base). A change from other SOCOM games is that depending on how many rounds the match is, halfway through you will change sides. This is to make the game more even since some maps can favor the commandos while others are better for the mercenaries. The game is won by the team that wins the most rounds. On each channel, there are set rooms that offer random game modes, and if you don't like that, you can make your own room picking whatever options you like. The ranked games, games where your performance will improve your individual rank within the online leaderboards, are only these set games and cannot be user created right now.
You'll find the controls to be just right when it comes to the tactical nature of the game. There's no auto-aim so if you hit or miss, it's all dependent on you. Something brand new to the game is the use of the PS3 Six Axis motion controller. By tiling the controller left or right, your character will lean that direction. When tilting forward while crouched behind cover, you'll crouch even further and be harder to see. Pulling back on the controller while throwing a grenade will make sure that you throw the grenade over handed. The only downside to the control scheme is the quick swap button. While this button is supposed to be used to quickly change from your main gun to your pistol, grenades or other special weapons, it seems that the memory on this button is non-existent. On one round, you hit the button and your pistol will come out but the very next round, it'll switch to grenades. Hopefully they'll be fixing that in the future.
While online, you can form a clan with your buddies. Within the clan, you create your "tag" so that everyone knows you're part of the clan, you choose which commando group you're affiliated with (like the Navy Seals) and with that choice, your clan will have access to a unique gun. A feature to be added soon is the clan tournaments and ladders within the game to show who the best clans are. Currently stat tracking is not working as it should but once done, you'll see how you rank compared to other players.
The presentation of the game is way above expectations. Many times, online only games are not given that great of a treatment in regards to the graphics. SOCOM: Confrontation is the exception with so much great detail added to the maps. For those who played the PS2 SOCOM games, you can see the big jump in graphic detail when you play the maps that are in both games. The use of shadows and details within the map is just amazing and it works to create a gritty, real life setting. The score of SOCOM: Confrontation keeps with the conventional military epic symphony sound that is always excellent to hear. As for sound effects, the guns stand up well to their real life counterparts. The drawback to the great sound effects is that there's so much of it. This is done to keep you in the feel that you're in a warzone but when you're out running around, it sometimes hard to tell what's the real weapons firing and what's not.
Now here's where I confront the negative aspect of the game which is causing a huge amount of controversy right now. I picked up the game the day before it was widely released so when I logged in (after a long process of updates and installs which is annoying) I was able to get into a game easily. I played several rounds and went to multiple rooms without any problems or lag. Now the next day, with an extra hundred thousand people added to the mix, that causes a strain on the servers. It's obvious that the developer Slant Six and Sony did not think that SOCOM would sell this much so quickly. The result is that the servers have been beaten down hard and has caused many problems. But these problems are not problems with the games. These are problems with the servers and are something external. These problems should not reflect the quality of the game, simple as that. However, there are many game reviewing sites out there who didn't get enough money to give the game more accolades *cough* gamespot.com *cough* and they're quick to criticize the game because of an external problem. If it takes a little extra time to get the proper review in, so be it. MMORPGs are notorious for being horrible early on and take time to become more stable thus reviews aren't released until a week or two later. Luckily, some game sites get it and have waited for the right time to review the game and those sites, from what I can tell, are not on the take like gamespot.com.
If you've read this far, I'm kind of surprised since I already gave you the score up top. I may get blasted on this review for my bias but I still have not read any comments complaining about the game, about the graphics, and so on. The complaints have been about the servers and those problems should not bring down the score of the overall game. These comments are coming from a true SOCOM vet who was there at the beginning and will continue to play to beat some more asses.