It’s that time of year, again; that time where I unleash a litany of pleas and demands for a new SOCOM game that will likely fall on deaf ears over at Sony. Before I begin, I would like say one thing: I’m aware that H-Hour: Worlds Elite exists. I backed the Kickstarter and fully realize that a majority of the fine folks at SOF Studios (including former Zipper Interactive Creative Director, David Sears) were behind the awesomeness that was SOCOM 2. This rant isn’t an indication that I don’t think they can recapture the magic with their “spiritual successor” to the SOCOM franchise, because I’m going all in that they will do just that. This rant is about how the PlayStation 2’s flagship online franchise began to spiral out of control in 2004, and was left for dead in 2012. This also will not be a call-to-arms to make idle threats about boycotts and such to the PlayStation brand, because — let's be honest — only crazy people do that. Now that I think about it, only crazy people obsess about things as much as I obsess about wanting a new SOCOM…but that’s neither here nor there.
The reason I feel now is a great time to start another “Bring Back SOCOM" campaign is because the shooter genre's heaviest hitters are becoming unoriginal or experiencing an identity crisis. If there were ever a time to strike and revive SOCOM, it’s now. Call of Duty and Battlefield have had a great run, but even diehard fans of the series are growing tired of the “rinse and repeat” formula that Activision and EA hold near and dear to their hearts. And let's be honest, why shouldn’t they stick to that formula? It’s made them a sh*t ton of money — so kudos to them. Hell, part of the reason that SOCOM started to lose its luster is because it tried to pull elements from Battlefield (vehicular warfare in SOCOM 3) and Call of Duty (more focus on respawn in SOCOM 4). Although they undoubtedly drew some inspiration from Counter Strike, SOCOM 1 and SOCOM 2 had their own formula, which many gamers embraced and proudly declared their own. If Sony gave half a sh*t about this article, and read it all the way through, then they already know the foundation on which they should build a new SOCOM. Just for sh*ts and giggles, here they are anyways:
- No Respawn and No Health Regeneration: Gamers used to be a hardcore group that hated having their hands held. Respawn is too much of a crutch and actually contradicts the concept of team play. If I know I’ll respawn after making bad decisions that get me killed often, what will make me stop and ask “Is this going to hurt our chances of winning?” It's the same thing with regenerating health. What consequence is it to me if I take a shot to the neck, when I can just sit behind a car for 10 seconds and let it heal magically by itself? Gamers want a challenge. They want the intensity inherent in a game with no respawn. Let's be done with this coddling of gamers already!
- Objective-Based Game Modes: You’d be surprised how many people enjoy the idea of playing a game, knowing any careless actions on their part could directly impact their team in a negative manner and jeopardize the mission. “Lone Wolf-ing” is no longer as appealing as it used to be; it’s run its course. The heavy emphasis on cooperative play over the years has instilled a renewed interest in working together as a team and coordinating a plan of attack…which is what made SOCOM so special. Working as a unit to retrieve hostages, guiding VIPs to their destination, and planting a single bomb deep behind enemy lines was more rewarding because you did it as a team. That creates a bond with people online, and forms friendships that can extend outside the walls of online gaming.
- Online Maps Designed With A Single Game Mode In Mind: Not every single map has to be “fair” in terms of its set-up and design. I can’t tell you how badass it was when my squad heard those magical words, “SEALs Victorious,” when playing a round of Extraction on maps such as Death Trap, Enowapi, and Sujo — maps that were designed to give the Terrorists a distinct advantage. The odds were so stacked against you that it wasn’t uncommon during clan matches that any of those maps were chosen while playing as Terrorists (Crossroads tiebreaker, anyone?), simply because you could hunker down, mine up every single entrance, and literally camp it up because it was on the SEALs to make something happen. It made working as a team more important than ever, and was even more dramatic and exciting when you could pull off the upset. Those are the types of “highs” that I have yet to experience in any Call of Duty or Battlefield game.
Those are just a few staples of the SOCOM franchise that any reboot would have to include if Sony were to ever revive the franchise. Yes, there are elements like these in current shooters, but they are not the main features or attractions. I don’t know many people that play Call of Duty or Battlefield for no respawn modes. To be fair, I have noticed an increased interest in the Search and Destroy mode of Call of Duty, but even then, the Call of Duty style of play is vastly different than the one found in SOCOM. This is why it’s so imperative that Sony reconsider letting the SOCOM franchise remain dormant. The PlayStation community in particular would welcome a hardcore, third-person military shooter back into the console gaming fold — of that, there’s no doubt in my mind. There are plenty of gamers (not just old guys like myself) that would love to become the next generation of tactical players that dominate a game without using cheap tactics such as quickscoping, spawn camping, or killstreaks. Simply outsmarting your opponents with strategy and getting the win will always be more impressive than a good K/D ratio.
”Simply outsmarting your opponents with strategy and getting the win will always be more impressive than a good K/D ratio. "
The strategy and intelligence that was required by members of a clan during a SOCOM match was deeper than what you'd find in most of todays online shooters. Everyone is so quick to pull the trigger carelessly - giving away their position like fools - regardless if it's a low percentage shot. Communicating with your team via headset to coordinate ambushes, waiting for the opposing team to make that one grave mistake that your team could capitalize was a staple of SOCOM's gameplay, and it's one that's gotten lost in the shuffle over the years. However, thanks to games such as Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, and even the Call of Duty: Black Ops zombie cooperative modes; working together and communicating at all times has become a very rewarding experience online once again.
With Zipper Interactive no longer around to create a new SOCOM game, many are wondering, "How in the hell would Sony even get another SOCOM onto PlayStation consoles?” Well, I have no idea how they would do that so all I can do is offer up three suggestions off the top of my head that may or may not even be feasible...but they sure do sound good:
- Simple & Cheap: I have to believe it would cost Sony very little money to port over the original SOCOM 2 and get it up and running on the PlayStation Vita. It’s a 12 year old game so I can’t see it being too demanding for the PlayStation Vita. Now, before you freak out and say, “But I don’t want to play it on my Vita!” I get that. I want a SOCOM HD remastering, but that doesn’t look like it's ever happening so just work with me here. Plus, the PlayStation TV is coming out next month, so you could still play it on the big screen if you wanted to(problem solved!). If Sony wanted to skimp on graphics upgrades, resolution bumps, and improving the game's framerate, I’m totally fine with that. Just give me SOCOM 2 with trophies and I’ll never bother you again.
- Keep In-House: Obviously, if they wanted to, Sony could go to one of their first party studios and assign them with creating a new SOCOM game. If there is one developer that I think would make a phenomenal SOCOM game, it would be Naughty Dog. Not just because they are Sony’s best studio, but because they have proven that they can make a great third-person shooter. Plus, if you look at the multiplayer portion of The Last of Us (TLoU), it’s very similar to the gameplay of SOCOM: small fireteams, slow paced, tactical and team oriented. Even people I’ve played with on TLoU online have mentioned the similarities and how it reminds them of SOCOM. The only issue is that with Uncharted 4 coming up, there’s no telling if Naughty Dog would even have the resources to reboot a franchise right now. But one can hope.
- Most Qualified: I don’t even know if this is feasible, but since SOF Studios already has much of the talent and experience responsible for the SOCOM franchise, why doesn't Sony just fund their game, publish it, and let H-Hour take the place of SOCOM as their new third-person tactical shooter franchise, exclusive to PlayStation. Only this time, Sony suits should just let the developer do their thing, and quit trying to bully them into making it more like the other guys' game! Again, I have no idea if this is even possible, but again, it just sounds good.
It’s obvious that the shooter genre is going through some changes, whether it be the theme, era, or gameplay of a given game. It’s no secret that these games are evolving; I’m all for that. There’s nothing wrong with trying something new, because it may give your game that breath of fresh air that’s desperately needed to keep those respective franchises relevant. With that being said, there are many gamers that believe the old ways are the best ways, and I think that during a time of transition, this would be a great opportunity for Sony to bring back an old dog that doesn’t need to do any new tricks. There is a rabid fan base that is standing by, hoping that Sony will hear their cries. Take notice, and bring back SOCOM. It's time.
We want to know what your favorite SOCOM memories are, please let us know below! Did you have a favorite map or game mode? Which SOCOM game was your favorite? Let's chat it up in the comments!