SOCOM: Navy Seals is one of the more well regarded first-party games in Sony's repertoire so it's something of a surprise that they would let a fairly rookie developer get their hands on it. Slant Six is fairly new, only having produced the merest handful of games, so what would make Sony put one of their most well known series into their hands? They obviously have quite a bit of faith in the development team and it seems to be working out in their favor.
When bringing the game series to the PlayStation 3 it's readily apparent that the developers focused much of their time on making an enjoyable game and not on excessive graphical upgrades. That's not to say that the game looks ugly, it all looks rather good, but those who base their judgments on graphics alone are going to be disappointed. Instead of lots of bloom and such you instead get varied environments and well done characters without sacrificing the frame rate. For a game that is entirely online that is one of the best design choices one could ask for.
Outside of the graphical and sound upgrade not much has changed meaning those who have played the previous games in the series will feel right at home. Many of the features, such as the online lobby system remain intact while new features like an automatic matchmaking system have been included to bring the game in line with most other modern shooters.
The SOCOM series has always been more about slow careful fighting than it is running and gunning and Slant Six has made sure to keep the game focused in that direction. The vehicles and larger maps from SOCOM 3 have been excised and replace with smaller more intimate maps. Your average combat rounds won't take as long, especially in an eight-on-eight match. When you go into one of the sixteen-on-sixteen matches the maps actually scale to a larger size to compensate for the extra characters. With six different maps with two sizes each, seven game modes to choose from and day or night versions of each map you can see just how many customization options are at your fingertips.
Many maps are actually returning from previous games in the series, notably favorites such as Crossroads from SOCOM 2 and Desert Glory and Frostfire from SOCOM 1. Those of you who have experience with these maps will find that they are pretty much identical to what you remember of them and for those new to the games you can experience them for the first time.
The gameplay remains the same although there have been a number of tweaks. In addition to the standard pulled back third person view you can also pull the camera in for an over the shoulder view similar to the camera in Resident Evil 4. What's better is that you can switch it to look over either shoulder to help with looking around cover. A melee attack has been added that can be pretty useful if someone sneaks up on you just don't try using it against a shotgun wielder like someone we know did. It can make short work of someone is used intelligently. Last but not least is the ability to sprint and help you cover some ground quicker. However you can't really shoot while sprinting so you have to use it in short measures.
In addition there has been some SIXAXIS functionality added. When tilting the controller it shifts how you move your head. This means that you can pull your head down to help you hide behind cover from a sniper or tilt it left or right to help you look around cover. However if you turn off the motion control there is absolutely no way to do these maneuvers and is something of a serious oversight. While this might be patched before the game releases it's hard to imagine how they will do so with all of the controllers buttons accounted for.
SOCOM Confrontation shows plenty of promise and it definitely shows that Slant Six was more than prepared for the challenge. They have a definitive vision for what they're aiming for it and it is very true to what the series has been previously. In the coming days until its public release any of the typical issues with beta tests will be cleaned up and the game will really shine. For those who are looking for a good third person shooter Confrontation will definitely fill that craving.