At this year's Game Developers Conference, Sony announced that SOCOM 4 would be one of their cornerstone "hardcore" titles showcasing their PlayStation Move motion control technology. As a diehard SOCOM fan, I was a little unsettled by this revelation. Was Zipper being pressured to shoehorn in the scheme, thereby diverting resources from the core gameplay? Well, we still don't know if that's true, but what I can say after playing through the single player demo is that the Move control scheme works surprisingly well, with a few exceptions.
Before we get into the Move controls, long time SOCOM fans eagerly anticipating Zipper's return to the franchise should know SOCOM 4 stays faithful to the series' roots. Squad based commands are easy to use, your AI teammates are very capable soldiers, and the missions require players to employ tactics to succeed. That being said, Zipper has taken some notes from the competition. The third-person perspective features an over-the-shoulder view - SOCOM: Confrontation also used one, but that was developed by Slant Six. It wasn't clear whether you could use the classic center view, but Zipper did say they were open to giving players freedom to customize their controls.
Players point the Move wand to aim and use the analog stick on the sub-controller to, well... move. The face buttons (much like traditional SOCOM controls) direct the various context-specific actions such as issuing squad commands, getting into prone, or taking cover. Hold the phone! There's a cover system in SOCOM? It's true. Arguably the largest change to SOCOM's core gameplay, regardless of whether you're playing with Move or a regular controller, is the addition of a cover system, but we'll get to that in a minute.
Overall, the Move controls felt very responsive, especially when you set it to the expert "Super Soldier" setting - there are three sensitivity settings in total. The middle "Weekend Warrior" setting is likely best for testing out Move because it provides some aim assistance, which helps limit the inevitable unwieldy motions when learning to use Move. Motion controls have generally been considered gimmicky within the hardcore shooter crowd, however, SOCOM 4's implementation proves that it's a viable option.
Head over to SOCOM Union, one of Gaming Union's sub-sites, for more impressions on SOCOM 4.