SOCOM: Special Forces • Page 2

Welcome to the jungle.

There's one in particular that will have you grinding your teeth in despair and hurling invective at the screen as you restart for the umpteenth time. Incidentally, don't hold back on the cursing; there's plenty of foul and abusive language in the game, with even the reserved Gray at one point moved to woodenly utter, "Son of a bitch!"

In general, the missions are a mixture of the forgettable and those that you'll remember for up to five minutes. And if you want to attempt them using the power of Move, be our guest. SOCOM: Special Forces is fully compatible with the Move controllers, if not necessarily their natural home. There's a reason why every bespoke Wii/Kinect/Move title is a chimp-friendly non-game, as Special Forces ably proves, offering an experience akin to plaiting snot while wearing gardening gloves.

Perhaps wary of this, developer Zipper Interactive was heavily involved in the design of the Sharp Shooter accessory, a plastic gun that you tuck your Move controllers into and point at the screen, firing off rounds like Alan Partridge in an arcade. Apart from the embarrassment of being caught wielding a throbbing pink weapon, it definitely works, although it's certainly an acquired skill, albeit one that may not be fully acquired before your weak, atrophied arms start aching. By the way, for the full interactive experience, the game can also be played in stereoscopic 3D.

As is the burgeoning trend in shooters, the single-player is a brusque affair that can be torn through over the course of a weekend. The SOCOM series was something of a pioneer in terms of online PlayStation shooting, and this obviously hasn't been neglected here, with five-player custom co-op missions alongside competitive multiplayer. There are a variety of new modes, notably Bomb Squad, whereby you have to protect a heavily armoured, lumbering bomb disposal expert. (And according to Zipper, they came up with the idea before they'd seen The Hurt Locker.)

Initially at least, the multiplayer and co-op can be chaotic, with lack of refinement in the control system proving costly. For instance, in order to heal an acquaintance you have to hover over him in pixel-perfect fashion, by which time you've been shot. Then someone comes to your rescue and gets shot, leaving you with the absurd situation of three soldiers lying on top of each other groaning. Presumably things will improve once everyone's mic-ed up and familiar with the maps.

SOCOM: Special Forces is not quite the unqualified success Sony may have been hoping for, proving a largely generic, intermittently glitchy experience. Despite being tortured souls, the leads are difficult to sympathise with, and each mission is approached with little more than resigned acceptance.

On the plus side, the visuals are reasonably impressive: the foliage is redolent of Far Cry 2, and film buffs will recognise the Kubrickian lighting in the missions set in the so-called 'magic hour' before dusk. The animations are decent, the scenery is pleasant, and there's a mildly bombastic score from the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra.

Special Forces is not without its moments of drama and excitement, but ultimately there is an overriding sense that you are simply going through the motions – Move or no Move.

6 /10

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Steve Hill

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