SOCOM has been around since 2003, but none of the games have ever been really sensational. You can always rely on them for solid core mechanics and smart tactical combat, but they've never captured our imagination like
other, similar games.
Special Forces is Zipper's boldest, most ambitious sequel yet, however, so maybe all that could change. Maybe. Set in Southeast Asia, you play as Gray, the leader of a NATO special forces team on a mission to stop a violent revolutionary army from... um, being violent and revolutionary.
What sets SOCOM apart from the likes of COD is that it's very international. Your squad is comprised of British and South Korean operatives, and you take orders from a lovely Scottish lady.
The campaign immediately hooks you with its high production values and slick visuals. Environments are sprawling and varied, including ruined cities and dense jungles with gorgeous vistas to gaze at between firefights. Combat is satisfying thanks to punchy weapons and enemies whose bodies react realistically to your bullets.
Foes stumble if you nick them in the leg, or stagger into scenery if they take a hit somewhere more vital. Sometimes they crawl around in agony before dying. Which is nice.
Occasionally, though, you'll have to holster your weapons and adopt a far more stealthy approach. A mission like White Tiger, set during a storm in the dead of night, sees you creeping through the shadows as pretty Korean soldier Forty-Five.
These sections are a little clumsy, with enemies who are prone to overreact to the slightest disturbance, but do provide some sneaky relief. This is all well and good, but it's SOCOM's online multiplayer that will be the main appeal for many.
With support for up to 32 players, battles are vast and chaotic. You can also play through the game's 15 single-player missions with five friends in co-op, which suits the tactical gameplay down to the ground.
If you've never played a SOCOM game before, or wrote the series off a long time ago, now's the time to return. Gorgeous presentation and fun combat make it a worthy alternative to the CODs of the world. But it's not until the online community is established that it'll really shine
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The best SOCOM in years. Doesn't do anything fresh, but it's handsome, polished and fun
- Excellent large-scale multiplayer
- Tactical co-op
- Doesn't do anything new
- Clumsy stealth sections