SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs
It’s hard to believe that there was a time when online shooters weren’t a thing. With the now oversaturated field of FPS shooters to choose from in 2020, it almost seems unthinkable. Yet, in 2002, SOCOM was one of the few games out there that was leading the charge for online shooters. With so many developers championing a single-player approach at the time, SOCOM would be a trailblazer for those that followed and SOCOM 4: US Navy Seals was another iteration that aimed to cash in on their foresight.
The game plays rather similarly to any modern-day military FPS today such as Call of Duty or Battlefield. However, due to the titles focus on third-person gameplay it does also play like a game such as ARMA or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds.
Predictable but engaging
In past iterations of the series, the SOCOM developers have been criticised for relying too heavily on their competent online modes to carry their games. However, in recent times, there has definitely been a shift in their attitudes and SOCOM 4: US Navy Seals really tries to deliver a compelling single-player campaign and to its credit, does a decent job. The main characters that you control are well voiced and have a decent amount of depth. Then the plot itself, while very predictable and slightly unrealistic, does grab the players attention right until the end.
The only real issue with this is the lack of development for the NPC’s and secondary characters around you. They seem like cardboard cutouts that you simply order around. They are mindless drones who occasionally say a line or two and it can ruin some moments throughout the campaign.
Who Knew War was This Easy?
The SOCOM series has always been praised for the games ability to let you have full control of your squad and this version is no different. The friendly AI is fantastic and gives you a plethora of tactical options to take advantage of from start to finish. However, this doesn’t translate to the enemy AI that is about as smart as a block of cement. They will run into trouble constantly, they won’t have the tactical knowhow to give you any challenge and if you sit back and let your team sweep the area, nine times out of ten you won’t even need to get involved in the action.
While we can look past the short campaign length due to the fantastic online functionally of the title offering more content elsewhere. What we cannot look past is the very repetitive nature of the single-player campaign. All the missions are in carbon copy environments, doing the same tasks and sadly, the visuals throughout the game do nothing to make up for these lulls in proceedings.
The textures are poor, the scenery is repeated throughout the missions and the areas are rather sparsely populated and open. Which means that a lot of the title involves travelling through boring areas to your next area of interest, which sadly, isn’t all that interesting either.
As you would expect, the online play makes up for the shortcomings of the single-player campaign. You are treated to four game modes with the return of some fan favourites. You have the choice of games like suppression, uplink or bomb squad to get stuck into and you can do this across nine unique and fantastically designed maps which take place in Jungle areas, WWII bases and even abandoned stretches of freeway littered with vehicles.
Then, in addition, there is the levelling system that is similar to the Call of Duty series where you unlock more guns, attachments and perks as you grow in rank, giving you the motivation to press on and be the best you can be. In short, it’s another successful outing for the SOCOM online mode.
Same Old Story
When you think of a SOCOM game, you think of a competent online game with a campaign mode thrown in as more of an obligatory inclusion than anything else. While SOCOM 4: US Navy Seals aims to change this narrative, it doesn’t really hit the mark. The story has improved in terms of character depth and writing quality. However, the gameplay is still very repetitive and lacks the same care and attention that the online mode receives each outing.
The co-op mode at least allows you to play these missions with a friend and get more enjoyment from them that way. As a whole though, it’s exactly what you would expect and SOCOM fails to reach it’s true potential as a series once again.
- The single-player story is much improved
- Online mode is brilliant as usual
- Co-op is a fun function to enjoy missions
- Enemy AI is laughable
- Single-player gameplay is repetitive
- Visuals are nowhere near as polished as similar games at the time
Download SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP