SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Confrontation
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a violent, military-themed shooter that can only be played online. Players use guns and explosives to kill other human-controlled characters. Some, but not a lot of blood is seen. The violence is portrayed as realistic, not sensationalistic as is seen in many other M-rated games. Online play can be dicey due to the unpredictable nature of online communication with other players. Indeed, during our evaluation we encountered a constant stream of players who used not just extreme profanity, but also racist, homophobic, and chauvinistic slurs. It's also worth noting that, at the time of this writing, the game was suffering technical issues that made it difficult to log onto the network and join games. There are few things more frustrating in the world of games than one with glitches significant enough to render it unplayable. Until the glitches are worked out, you might want to rent before buying.
What's it about?
The most popular feature in Sony's SOCOM: U.S Navy SEALs games has always been online team-based combat, so it should come as little surprise that SOCOM U.S. NAVY SEALS: CONFRONTATION, the latest entry in Sony's popular third-person, military-themed shooter franchise, eschews solo campaign play altogether in favor of focused, beefed up online functionality. The game features matches that accommodate up to 32 players, has seven distinct game modes each with its own unique objective (rescuing hostages, demolishing targets, controlling specific areas, etc.), proffers plenty maps both new and old, and provides matchmaker control over a broad range of game variables, ranging from time of day to teammate target awareness.
Longtime fans of the franchise will find much to like about Confrontation's expanded online offering. Players can now completely customize their avatars, choosing not just armor and equipment that will noticeably impact a player's mobility and durability, but also weapons, attachments, and gear. The game also provides simple and efficient options for creating clans (video game jargon for permanent teams that players can join), confers a wide variety of awards and trophies for proving your combat skills in various ways, and tracks and ranks a long list of battle statistics. What's more, players can manage their gaming schedule using a built-in calendar that tracks upcoming tournaments and clan matches.
Is it any good?
The cherry on top is a bundled Bluetooth headset that facilitates wireless team communication -- a great companion for the PlayStation 3's wireless controller. However, on the subject of team communication, it's worth noting that, as in previous SOCOM games, many of the people you'll encounter playing online will be belligerent, highly profane, and in some cases outright bigoted.
While Confrontation has the potential to deliver good fun for mature audiences, it also suffers persistent and acute technical problems. At the time of this writing (five days post-release), it was difficult to log onto game servers and network errors popped up regularly. When we were able to start playing a game, we were often arbitrarily kicked out mid-session. On several occasions the game simply froze, requiring a system reboot. It's difficult to imagine anyone but the most devout, hardcore fans putting up with such hassles. We recommend not buying the game until such time as Sony has sufficiently patched these problems.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why some people who play online games use them as a platform to say offensive and controversial things they wouldn't consider saying outside of a game environment. Do you think the anonymity of online gaming is what makes these people feel as though they can be profane, rude, intolerant, or bigoted? Are there any consequences that could be introduced to make these people think twice about what they say? Game makers have struggled with this problem for many years. Can you think of a reliable way to avoid verbal spoilsports when playing?