Monday, March 28, 2011

Is SOCOM Obsolete?

Flashback to 2002/2003, on the heels of the releases of SOCOM I and II, Zipper was sitting on top of the world as a revolutionary developer that could do no wrong.

SOCOM, is quite simply, the reason many people play online. Zipper revolutionized online gaming. At one time their PS2 titles had more active accounts than all of Xbox Live. When studies showed that more of the demographic that advertisers love (males ages 18-35) were playing video games online than watching TV during primetime, online gaming was no longer a fad--it was a potential cash cow.

But how times have changed, fast forward to current day and Call Of Duty is now the dominant name in the online, squad-based multiplayer genre and the game that is reportedly in 1 out of every 8 households. The question now begs to be asked, was SOCOM a truly great online game or just the best that early online play had to offer and without a competitor? The raw data now associated with the COD series is the stuff that publishers can only dream of: COD Modern Warfare? 13M copies sold, Modern Warfare 2? 20M copies. Black Ops? 7M copies in the first 24 hours. Those kind of sales prompt copycatting and it seems everyone is trying to make the next COD at this point, and who could blame them? This isn't the music or motion picture industry, brand new PS3/360/Wii games cost 60 bucks, so 1 million copies sold = 60 million dollars gross revenue.

But make no mistake, COD is largely a good-looking, standard deathmatch, glitch-filled game devoid of any semblance of teamwork. While the bulk of brain-dead casual gamers LOVE that kind of work-off-some-steam-and-pwn-some-newbs experience, the mature gamers that flocked to SOCOM could never find any kind of prolonged enjoyment from anything close to that. There is, in fact a demographic that wants to use teamwork, tactics and be forced to OUT-THINK their opponent in a videogame.

"There's always this kind of revisionist history when it comes to SOCOM.  There WAS a TON of camping in previous SOCOMs its so funny how the purists try to make you believe it was this perfect game when it wasn't. Not even close."
--SOCOM Veteran

 And therein lies the problem, while the experiences and communication in SOCOM were great, the gameplay was NOT. The headset often goes overlooked, but included headsets might have been SOCOM's greatest addition. the ability to converse and plan with your teammates, the social aspect of SOCOM, is what truly made the game great.While the game tried it's best to be objective-based, lack of respawn made it largely a deathmatch, and certainly a CAMPFEST from early on, and the third-person view made it WORSE. Corner Camping (hiding behind a wall or structure and abusing the omniscient 3rd person viewpoint) made even classic games like Escort or Demolition turn into games of "camp the bomb" or "go hide with the bomb" and who can ever forget "go take a swim with the bomb"? Camping made gameplay stale and the lack of patience with newcomers (noobs who are learning the game get voted OUT in SOCOM, people) made it a hard game for non-veteran players to pick up and enjoy.

SOCOM Purists were largely unsatisfied with SOCOM's first foray onto the PS3 (Socom Confrontation, which was outsourced and developed by Slant Six, not Zipper) and while the game wasn't horrible, it was hardly what many expected from SOCOM on a new system. Many players felt like it was a PS2 game, and wondered what the legendary developer was doing. It turns out, they were working on revolutionizing squad-based gaming yet again, with their 256-player Opus, MAG. Many fans of Zipper, still convinced of their brilliance, bought MAG on the strength of Zipper's reputation and while many of the game's elements were poorly implemented, and it was plagued with lack of new content and imbalances, their concept of persistent elements, large scale battles and organized teamwork, communication and tactics was revolutionary.

Zipper is  now in a middle-ground where they are no longer the dominant force and their reputation can no longer sustain them. No one will buy a game that is too much like COD (why not just buy COD?) and some SOCOM fans think what they've brought to the table isn't "hardcore" enough. In SOCOM 4, Zipper has tried to address many of the game's long-time issues (like abuse of the third-person view and camping) with elements like e-tags and a zoomed-in viewpoint, but true to form, the small-but-vocal hardcore contingent complains endlessly about anything that changes what they were comfortable with previously. It makes one wonder, are so-called die-hard fans of the series holding it back? (No open mics? isn't it 2011?) It's very possible, frequently fans of a series will resist changes in gameplay--particularly if they are elements that these same players exploit. In my opinion the objectives-based gametypes are what make the game great, but they can be too easily ignored and until gameplay finds a way to make the objectives every players #1 goal, it will continue to be an unimaginative deathmatch-style game.

The almost amusing issue amongst all of this, is that MAG came like a thief in the night and addressed many of the gameplay issues (its amazing how ineffective camping is in an FPS) that SOCOM players complained about and gave them many of the extras they had always asked for. The game was more MMO-styled FPS than anything else, but blinded by anything that didn't say "SOCOM 2 in HD" on the packaging, purists insisted on waiting instead, for a SOCOM that was done by Zipper. Unaware that SOCOM had actually evolved and had been transplanted onto larger scale battlefields--and waiting for what they were used to--they MISSED it.

I for one, like the road that SOCOM is taking by changing many of its worn-out and weak elements, and hope it does well sales-wise, I hope the developers can ignore the small-but-vocal minority who just don't want anything to disrupt the way "they like to play" I want Zipper to make a game worthy of playing, but I can't help but worry that the game hasn't dealt with longtime issues (the cover system actually makes camping easier) or really found its "lane", so to speak. It seems Zipper has tried too hard to please everyone rather than focusing on a casual or hardcore demographic.

28 comments:

  1. great article dude.

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  2. This article sucks. The guy prolly thought Socom was "too hardcore" back in the day because he kept dying.

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  3. SPOT ON. longtime socomer and MAG is socom on acid, folks. i played the S4 beta looking for that old socom feeling just to realize i had it playing MAG! socom's that girlfriend we remember being prettier than she actually was.

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  4. This guy clearly never played Socom early on and is just trying to fill in blanks based off what he read or was told rather then playing the games. The problem with CON wasn't that it played like a PS 2 game. The problem was that it was missing like half the features from those games that had so much more to offer. They basically stripped out half the content, slapped on prettier graphics, downgraded the character movement to feel alot more clunky, and threw it in a box.

    As someone who has played on Socom 4 beta extensively as well as still goes back to the old games such as Socom 1 and Socom 2 it's not even a contest, the camping in S4 is 100 times worse then its ever been in any previous Socom game. This guy tried to come across as someone who knew what he was talking about but when you really pay attention to the substance of what he's saying he clearly doesn't know anything about Socom, has no clue as to whats been stripped out and why it feels so watered down and bland today.

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  5. You are pretty lame. The direction Socom 4 is heading is stripping away tactics and promotes MORE camping with the cover system. Have you played the Beta? Everyone is behind cover popping their heads up like gophers every 15 seconds to get a peek. I can line my sniper rifle up while in 100% covered, then pop up and snipe someone in less than 2 seconds and back in cover before anyone could see me. That is a awful feature. Gernades can be thrown across the map. Get real. And saying the game is guna be patched? So my feeling is the game should be set upon release. Only glitches and bugs should be patched, no gameplay and crosshairs.This game is going down hill.

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  6. The author of these article is just like EVERYOTHER person who bashes longtime SOCOM fans, you just don't get it. Plain and simple, you don't understand why we are the way we are. And the frustrating part is, you don't try to understand.

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  7. Socom4 is a watered down shooter based on no real gaming skills.Its not a Socom game as Socom fans know it.

    People will move on when the next COD drops and once again true hardcore fans will be left in the dark and neglected like they always have been and Socom4 will die.

    1. Zipper didnt listen to their true fans
    2. the casuals will not play the game longer than 3 months.

    Socom on the ps2 kept my attention and made want to play everyday for years on end.

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  8. actually i've played SOCOM since S1 and i'm a longtimer, and strangely enough i say that the cover system encourages camping in S4 in the last paragraph. and i agree about the cross-hairs as well. i'm certainly not saying that S4 is perfect, but the series is stale and in need of change. bash SOCOM fans? WOW..that would be bashing myself. so tell us, why are you the way that you are? and more importantly, what should SOCOM be at this point?

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  9. Dear SOCOM faithful,

    PS2 systems are now $99.

    SOCOM 2 is 8$ on amazon.com

    Fuck off.

    Sincerely,

    The other 99.9999999% of the gaming population.

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  10. LOL! @ 99% of the gaming population! rarely do i every type "lol" while actually laughing out loud.

    this time is different.

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  11. I think the guy is wrong also, he said when CoD makes off the chart sales everyone wanted a peice of the pie. So we are stuck with a million CoD clones and S4 has incorporated much of those into it. The problem is that we loved Socom b/c it was NOT CoD, there was/is no other game out there like socom. Even other TPS shooters cant hold a candle to socom.

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  12. Its his own blog, if you want to write your own shit, go make your own fucking blog you randoms.

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  13. i've never played a socom before but i've always done my research and as a true gamer since i played counterstrike back in the day because the PC community is to be respected more than the otehrs for obvious reasons I GET IT. they're upset about the tactical features that are missing. the developer threw them a bone and included a "classic" mode but it doesn't play ANYTHING like a "classic" is supposed to be. zipper fucked up and pissed off the true community who have supported them. I for one probably sound quite pompous and i COULD BE WRONG but i'm at least TRYING to understand why they're so upset. I would be too. In fact i know how they feel because of the bullshit consolized versions of games on PC such as bad company which has overall less players than did battlefield 2 kinda sad. another example mw2 not having dedicated servers/lobbies and no lean. i could go on and on but all the developers have been doing this to make games more "acceptable to the masses" that being said, socom, from what i can gather, should've been true to it's roots and that's what the fans wanted. casuals will not enjoy this game as it's too tactical for them even in it's stripped-down watered-down state. sad they didn't just make it for the hardcore and keep their franchise alive.

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  14. Lol, this article is so much fail.


    Confrontation was a good SOCOM? You obviously didn't play it at release.

    "Abusing the third person"? You had gun hot for a reason, don't suck, man up, and maybe you could have seen what was great about third person?

    MAG is SOCOM on steroids? Are you fucking high? Game is nothing alike, the SOCOM 'feeling' isn't in MAG, and if you say so, you don't know what you're talking about.

    "its amazing how ineffective camping is in an FPS" -- Lol, have you played any online shooter? Tell me, MAG BLOG, what is redlining sniping? Is that camping? Have you ever complained about your teammates doing it? Dumbass.

    The "small but vocal" community is actually trying to keep the game that 'revolutionized' online gaming because it was so fun, and people, tards like you, are trying to get them to shape it into CoD, or this case, MAG.

    I could point out so many more fallacies in your blog, but frankly I don't care, because this site barely gets traffic as it is (thank my friend for linking it to me to reply) So I will just end with:

    You're an idiot who must've got his ass kicked at the old SOCOMS, and wants it to be easy like MAG so you can play it.



    What's the saying, "truth hurts?"

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  15. I've been playing the beta....sorry it's ok but I know I'm going to get really tired of playing it JUST LIKE MAG! It's so so sad. I listened to the podcast and what you hear is that the programmers "Did not listen to the faithful" I can't believe I'm saying it but I'm going back to that crap Azz Confrontation! Cover is nothing but camp, pop up and shoot! Also, going to cancel the $150 I paid for the game and that combo pack of crap! Zipper you screwed up....time will tell!

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  16. Dude you are a flipping joke.Con failed because they did not provide all the features they advertised due to SONY limiting their budget and time.That is why Con came out "BROKEN".Con was /6's first attempt at a PS3 game.Done forget they are a PSP game developer and are actually very good at them.And unlike ZIPPER,/6 was able to add in D-Pad Lean and Grenade Arc and Lobbies while ZIPPER said they were to hard to implement.Obviously you are a ZIPPER Nut Hugger ,hence the MAG blog.But until you have actually played a Socom and understand that most vets dont care about the 75% of the game given to the casuals...we do care about the 25% ZIPPER said was for us.So go back to your no skill,dumbed down,i need respawn because i suck game and STFU.

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  17. LOL! we're going to have to work on some of this reading comprehension with you "hardcore" guys. for the record, i don't think respawn is "SOCOM" and i think d-pad lean and grenade arc are good features. oh and i've played socom since the first one.

    but i also think the game is and has always been camp friendly, and that something had to be done about end-game camping and the fact that every game just turned into deathmatch.

    cheers :)

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  18. damn what dont u guys get it they dont know if this game would sell with the old features zipper got no BALLS they scared to trust in their own product

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  19. Way to delete my comment, I guess my last line was right, truth hurts.

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  20. It is obsolete.

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  21. the author of this article was probably the guy getting voted out of every room because he was a noob. Duming the game down

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  22. Just out of curiosity, did you play clan matches and did you consider yourself a good player in SOCOM I and II?

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  23. The author of this blog is a total tampon! Go play Halo

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  24. Mmmm the whole camp complaint. Lame lame lame. I just chalked it up to part of the game. The best thing about socom was finding a way to counter those camping bastards. I've done it myself. Camping is just part of it. Cry cry cry don't be a hypocrite. I have played since socom 1 and loved every minute of it. When 3 came out I wasn't so happy. S4 is way way better than con, but I am playing suppression right now and guess what? It's a camp fest!!!
    Give us back our fast paced gameplay and freedom of movement, and I will flank those motherfuckers every time. But, I feel constrained with the "next gen" character movement.

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