SOCOM: US Navy SEALs 4 GDC 2010 PlayStation Move PreviewBy Andrew Pfister - Posted Mar 11, 2010
What We Know: The fourth installment in Sony's beloved tactical shooter franchise, SOCOM: US Navy SEALs 4 takes place over six days in which players, and their five-person squad, must fight their way through an overwhelming force of insurgents in a country being torn apart by war. Sony recently revealed that the game will be playable with the new PlayStation Move motion controller, an announcement that took many people, including Andrew Pfister, by surprise.
What We Saw: On my mental list of "Franchises Likely Used to Highlight Sony’s Motion Control As Something Relevant to the Hardcore” the SOCOM series didn’t even make the top 10. Yet here we are, Wednesday of GDC week, and the recently announced SOCOM 4 is being used to highlight Sony’s PlayStation Move as something relevant to the hardcore.
I got to play it for a quick 10 minutes this evening, and came away with a feeling that I’m using to summarize my general thoughts toward Move (as based on today’s initial reveal): it seems to work, but I question if it’s truly necessary.
To get a sense of how it plays, think of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption or The Conduit. (And yes, that is the first time I’ve ever had to use a Wii FPS as a reference point for a game on the PS3.) On the primary Move controller, you point at the screen to direct your aiming direction; the sub-controller’s analog stick is used for directional movement, strafing in particular. Even though this version of SOCOM 4 is still very much a work-in-progress, the effect was achieved as I ran through the war-torn map.
My primary concern at this stage isn’t with general aiming, as it was easy and natural to get the aiming cursor in the general vicinity of my targets. But getting that precise lock on where I want to shoot proved to be difficult. In other words, I was grateful that the developers turned on "god mode,” because I would have been wiped out in close quarters combat on more than one occasion. It may also require relearning how to play the game, now that controls have been separated to two hands and buttons have been realigned (I had to look down a few times to get my thumb over to the grenade button, for example).
If you’re a diehard SOCOM fan, don’t stress: the game is entirely playable with your Sixaxis or DualShock 3 without having to reprogram your muscle memory. Zipper’s also making some further enhancements in addition to motion control. One I got to see in action was the Command mode that allowed me to call in an air strike on an enemy-held chokepoint. I had to briefly expose myself to enemy fire as the strike call was being sent in, but that’s the risk you have to assume when summoning explosive power.
But getting back to Move, which was the point of this initial demo, we just need to be patient and wait to see (and play) more. I was initially skeptical about Metroid Prime’s motion controls, but ended up loving them...as did everyone else, given the existence of the Metroid Prime Trilogy boxset. With proper focus testing and calibration options, SOCOM with the Move could actually be pretty cool.