First of all, let me make things clear; I am and always have been a Socom fanboy. I love the series and have been playing it since Socom 1 came out a million years ago. Obviously it is the online play side of things which makes the Socom genre so great for me, as I've made good friends through playing Socom (playing Socom way too much, you might say!) But please do not let this preconceived notion bias this review in any way, because this game is not Socom. This is not the Socom 1, 2 or Confrontation (Socom 3's vehicles just put me off, that game was quite poor) but yes, this is does not feel like part of that series. And why is this? Well, I've been playing it with the new Sony Move controllers; which is great fun indeed. I feel like I should be disappointed that this game does not feel like Socom when you play it, but do you know what? I am not disappointed whatsoever. This review is from the offline-only experience as the PSN is down due to some kind of security issue at the moment. When I get to try the online game, I'll update the review.
It's been 8 years since Zipper released the original Socom games, and this is the first game where you feel like the engine has changed and everything has improved so dramatically. Physics, graphics, game play, you name it - this game has been improved in every way.
It's quite funny, if you like shooting games you may have tried MAG - Massive Action Game. MAG (PS3)
I thoroughly enjoyed that game because it felt like an evolved version of the original PS2 Socom games. Socom 4, or Socom: Special Forces as it's correct title states, feels like a fully evolved version of the Socom franchise.
Using the Move controllers is new to me; along with Killzone 3 which I haven't played much, this is the first game I have properly used the Move controllers rather than the archaic (yes, they feel archaic now) DualShock 3 controllers. There's something about the way the controllers are so comfortable to use and hold; it makes the interface between human and Playstation seem very natural indeed. For that reason, I would thoroughly recommend that you purchase a set of Move controllers to try this out for yourself.
I found the game easy to control, but hard to get good at. Comparing the way in which the characters move and interact, this game is leaps and bounds ahead of Killzone 3. I've played the game and completed the Story mode on the third level (the fourth difficulty being the hardest) and it was challenging the whole way through. I must say, it did feel very complex and exciting; the AI changed during the games and you really get a sense the computer-controlled enemies knew what they were doing when it came to thowing grenades, laying down covering fire and generally causing as much grief as possible. It was a really good moment everytime I saw the "checkpoint reached" message flash up on screen, honestly.
With regards to value-for-money, the story mode did seem fairly short-ish. 14 big missions, which go from easy to hard in terms of difficulty, did fly through fairly quickly. There is a process to go through to upgrade the weapons you have as a player, but it isn't really explained in the game. I haven't really got round to looking at it properly but from what I can see, you earn attachments for your guns by using them; if you don't pick up and use an enemy's gun in the game, you can't select it to start with in the mission.
Online play seems to be fairly similar to MAG; you kill enemies and carry out objectives to earn XP, which in turn earns you weapons or upgrades. I believe that's how it all works, but we'll all know more when the PSN comes back online.
In summation, I would recommend this game as a really fun, tactical shooter which will bring you plenty of hours of play. If you fancy playing a good online shooting game, I am sure Socom: Special Forces will not disappoint.
Let me know if you want to know more or have any specific questions!