A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs is a third-person shooter that depicts war zone violence in semi-realistic fashion. Players spend their time using a large arsenal of weapons to kill countless enemy soldiers, who writhe, bleed, and cry out in pain when struck. The player’s squad is clearly on the side of good, but everything they do in the game centers around violence. Parents should note that this game glamorizes war and that the instruction manual includes recruitment contact information for the U.S. Navy SEALs. The focus of the game is online play, where open voice communication is both supported and encouraged, which could lead to inappropriate language and topics of conversation.
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What's it about?
SOCOM 4: U.S. NAVY SEALS is a realistic tactical third-person shooter with a simple single player campaign and extensive online multiplayer functionality. The story mode puts players in control of a small squad of NATO soldiers fighting in rural and urban locations in a distressed Asian country. Player focus is generally split between engaging enemy combatants directly and managing teammate's actions by tapping the directional buttons to issue orders. Custom missions that allow players to choose objectives and set enemy numbers are available as well. However, most players will spend the majority of their time engaged in online multiplayer matches, where up to 32 human combatants can square off against each other in a wide variety of customizable game types.
Is it any good?
The campaign portion of SOCOM 4 is as average as can be, delivering familiar cover-based combat scenarios populated with forgettable characters and objectives. Squad-focused tactics help distinguish the experience a little, but are marred by A.I. teammates often in need of babysitting. Infrequent stealth missions act as a nice change of pace. Too bad they’re so hard.
Luckily, the multiplayer element proves more satisfying. Upgradeable weapons and a well-designed character growth system will keep avid players busy for weeks or months, and matches without re-spawning -- a staple of the franchise -- are as tense as they’ve ever been. Like previous SOCOMs, the online play will likely be best enjoyed by hardcore as opposed to casual players; the people we encountered online while testing were often overly enthusiastic in their taunting. SOCOM 4 won’t win many new converts, but franchise fans shouldn’t be disappointed.
Online interaction: Up to 32 players can play together in online play. Squad-based multiplayer supports and encourages open voice communication between players, which means players could encounter inappropriate language and topics of conversation. Opportunity exists for players to share personal information.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk violence in games. How do you feel about viewing realistic military combat in a video game? How does animated violence differ from violence in live action films?
Families can also discuss online safety. What precautions do you take when playing games online? What do you do if you encounter someone you think might be dangerous?
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