SOCOM 4: TARA THE TACTICAL NOOB
BY TARA BABCOCK
"Here!" my assistant, J, says as he
hands me the controller. "You'll do great!"
I sigh and grab the controller.
There are very few game genres I have not played to death throughout my
life, and realistic tactical shooters happen to be one of them. Oh, they're
all the same, I think, Let's do this!
I check through the loading screen;
M4a1, PKP, and concussive and frag granades... that sounds good, I decide as
the countdown ends and the game commences. My character, a rugged, and
apparently military, man adorning a green ski mask spawns on the screen and
drops about a foot onto the starting point. "Suppression! Eliminate the
Hostiles!" exclaims an Australian accented man.
Yeah, that's my guy!
The one who's getting his ass handed to him by a petite Asian babe... I knew
this fail wasn't my fault! /facepalm, anyone?
I think, this looks easy, just point at the red diamonds, avoid friendly
firing the blue ones, got it! I start running in the same direction as
everyone else, feeling pretty confident-BAM! The sudden annihilation of
my character startles me enough to jump off of the couch, "What the hell was
"Hah! You got headshotted!" My
assistant cackles in true "that's what he said" fashion. Practice makes perfect,
I suppose, and practice -a lot of it- was what I did!
Playing SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs
wasn't something I thought I would be doing when I heard of its release. I was
under the impression that all of the "worth-playing" shooters were solely in
first-person view and, unless I have a three-monitor peripheral system and take
some motion sickness pills beforehand, that's not usually my cup of tea. I was
getting a lot of referrals from different friends and fans about TPS-style games
that I should try as an alternative, and SOCOM, with its release having been
pretty recent, was my first choice. After hours of practice in various modes,
map sizes, teams, and gear, I was starting to feel confident, as well as
simultaneously falling in love!
CAPTION: Me: Wha- what?
Is that a player or a tree!? Shou- should I fire aimlessly or turn down camera
sensitivity so I can imitate a semblance of precision!? Random level 60 player:
She's a noob, let's shoot her in the face!
MULTIPLAYER AND CO-OP MODES
SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs has a rich
online gameplay platform and community. All of the classic modes that players
grew to love in earlier releases from the franchise are replaced by new modes;
the classic rules are still available, although it is harder to find a full game
for a large map. Standard mode features a best-of-three rounds, thirty-minute
time limit layout with respawns and regenerative health. I bask in the
opportunity, especially when I first started attempting the game, to turtle in
an unpopulated corner and restore health, or die for the umpteenth time and
still be able to respawn and try again. This adds a nice little welcome mat to
players who are new to the game and may not be as skilled at staying alive
initially. Walking on the battlefield, dying, and then enduring a lengthy wait
while the better players fight to the death… That can get disheartening quick,
trust me. Subsequently, there is a vote-to-kick feature for away, or just
blatantly horrific, players.
There are four standard modes, four
custom modes, and the ability to acquire the classic demolition mode through
DLC. Co-op modes, such as Evac, are available in DLC as well, along with an
excess of extra weapons, multiplayer skins, and various new, and nostalgic,
maps. The mode I played the most was the standard multiplayer Suppression on
large and small maps. Suppression was the straightforward, two-team, rack up as
many kills as possible to win mode. It's safe to say I was never the game's MVP,
but I did come dangerously close a few times! I also took advantage of Bomb
Squad and Uplink frequently during my SOCOMical journeys. Uplink is a capture
the flag-reminiscent game that surrounds the attacking team with the task of
downloading important intel from enemy computers around the map. One of the most
memorable parts of the game, for me, was downloading from a random, cute little
iPad-esque electronic on an obscure crate in the middle of the battlefront. Who
leaves their important military intelligence in a compromising static location?
It's not a tank people, it's a portable data tablet! Bomb Squad is similar, but
the objective, instead, is to disarm enemy bombs strategically placed in various
Oh crap, Guys! I think
I left our intel tablet at that little Bistro we dined at yesterday! Can someone
go back and check, it should be near the Ketchup!
TARA'S SOCOM SURVIVAL TIPS
I've decided to go ahead and do
something a little bit different than usual, in the spirit of learning, and
throughout my quest to become a better SOCOM tactician, I have devised a few
tips you can use to avoid dying, at least, as much as you would be had you not
1. Play with the settings! If you
play with the camera speed and pan speed, as well as how quickly and smoothly it
moves while in scope-mode, then you're bound to find something more comfortable
for your style of play than what default gifted you with. Even switching buttons
around may help!
2. Learn the crouch, dive and cover
buttons! The triangle dive button has been one of my best friends. You're
running from cover to cover and someone's firing straight at me with perfect
aim? Dive your hardest to safety immediately!
3. Running while shooting. Never
staying still is key to getting that headshot in, without giving a nice, easy
target to your opponent! Easier said than done, though, when you also factor in
the aiming part.
4. It's better to be cautious, or
to turtle a bit, than run out into open fire and get clipped! Remember, racking
up deaths is not only completely counterproductive, but it doesn't make you
better at the game to charge out, guns blazing, with no skill whatsoever.
5. Lastly, experiment with
different guns and equipment! Some guns actually are better than others for your
play style. Don't condemn yourself to a gun that is not suited for you and then
end up moding it up to max level, making it harder to start anew!
THE STORY MODE
The unfortunate circumstance with
current online gameplay-driven games, and shooters specifically, is that most
people don't give a damn about the story of the game. I implore you to think
twice before you jump into the vast expanse of the online gaming community for
all of eternity without backstory and lore knowledge! If you enjoy a game, you
should respect its background and work the developers put into story. The reason
shooters typically have poorly done, short campaigns is the general lack of
interest by the community! Let's make epic single-player story modes a reality
Exhibit A is the wonderfully smart
assed, Eric Schweitzer. He's by far my favorite character in the single-player
missions, as well as the best choice when playing on the Spec Ops team in
multiplayer modes. He adds a touch of raw humor and an uncanny unlikable
likability to the scene, but most importantly of all, he's super hot!
If only I had known
about him when I wrote my "20 Most Badass Video Game Studs" article! Yum!
Yes, the single-player story mode
is a bit short, as expected, and yes the story can be a bit cliché, but it is
involving, with interesting happenings. It sports climaxes that will grab you in
and make you finish it in entirety, if the voice of "Oracle" doesn't leave you
wanting more already. The squad-based missions which allow you to control the
main character, known by the moniker Ops Com mostly, contrast nicely with the
solo stealth missions of the Korean 707 Lieutenant, Forty-Five. The range of
difficulties make it easy for players of all levels to either breeze through,
letting the support team take out the bad guys for you, or involve heavy
strategy with a decent team control mechanic. Not only is the campaign worth a
play-through for content, it'll also help you learn the multiplayer and co-op
mode controls much better when first picking up the game. Just don't forget to
take the blood oranges!
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF
THE SOCOM FRANCHISE
While I enjoyed getting used to a
genre of game that was relatively new to me, I felt that there were a few empty
spaces that left me wanting, and things that I felt were major flaws in the
functions of each mode, as well as the multiplayer profiles and social aspects
of the game. I know readers of my previous articles are not necessarily used to
me berating the titles I choose to feature. This contrast is possibly credited
to my coming into this genre with a fresh outlook, untainted by many years of
adoring bias, but riddled with high expectation.
One thing I think is essential, and
totally omitted from the interface, is an easy way to view player profiles
complete with game history, rank, weapon modes, and other interesting facts. I
feel that this should be as simple as selecting one of the people you are in a
Suppression queue with, especially as there is virtually no way to view any
comprehensive and detailed stats of others, making these items feel irrelevant.
This accessibility would also dilute the boredom of waiting for the games to
start, and would add to the addiction of extended play.
Another important overlooked factor
is the addition of assists in the kills and deaths board that can be viewed
during, and after, the game. Often times, especially when learning, I would end
up with a wicked number of assists, but little actual kills to my name. With the
simple implementation of this information, it would be easier to decipher
whether someone is kick-worthy, or if they are just being beaten to the punch a
few times too often.
I could envision smaller quick
rectifications as well, such as team colors that are more easily visible
(although I understand the realism offered in these similarities), points that
are much more clear and do not confusingly add together mid-screen, and map
pinging, or easily expressible locations on the map.
The biggest suggestion I have is
customizable characters. I often spawn into a game with upwards of five to ten
players wearing identical skin, making the game feel impersonal and drab. Gamers
would have a stronger sense of accomplishment if they could receive attire or
other appearance-altering benefits to leveling, racking up points, or being the
game's MVP, if they had this kind of extrinsic motivation. In addition, they
would feel a stronger bond to the character they play, and would be less bored
and off-put by the lack of variety they see on the field. I would suggest having
a couple distinct, yet small, variables, as well as a whole set of items
available to distinguish Insurgents from Spec Ops. Currently, players just
memorize when to fire based on the generic, and few, different looks, which
defeats the initial "realistic" intentions of designers. In summation, I feel
this would add more hours, overall, to the desired play of SOCOMers by making
the game feel more personal and... "worth it".
Whether you love it, hate it, suck
at it, or have never played it, SOCOM is a staple among the tactical video game
franchises. It utilizes all modes of gameplay excellently, and is a leader in
the vast sea that is the shooter genre. With its release date surrounded by the
infamous lengthy PSN outage, it's evident that the popularity and selling power
of this newest installment would have been otherwise massive. SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy
Seals reminds me of how far gaming has come since the proprietors of the
phenomenon, with its realistic visuals and incredible sound and voice
repertoire. When you compare today's MMO games and movies, games prevail greatly
in authenticity. Think about SOCOM for a second; every smash, boom, scream, hiss
of smoke, is all made by a real action created by a real player.
It's not a random background track formulated to sound natural! Although SOCOM
is not completely unique in this regard, it is a summation of all of the
real-time actions of each person participating in the game, rather than a
developer-created atmosphere. Movies make a track to dub over the final product
that they think will sound believable, but games like SOCOM allow us to
come together as a community, invent the story, and collaborate to make truly
epic history ourselves as we go!
With Schweitzer taking
the lead, we can't go wrong... right?
MEANWHILE, IN TARA LAND...
I'm home from Glamourcon and LA, my
last trip of the year, and my birthday is over, but the fun is just beginning
for me! I'm taking a small hiatus from full-time modeling in order to... well,
let's just say I'll have an epic surprise for you all very soon! I'll still be
shooting several times a month and taking some work, but I'm going to try focus
on keeping up with my site and getting in the best shape of my life! You guys
don't know how hard it is to hit the gym and eat right when you're traveling
monthly or weekly! This also means that I'll be overloading you all with Tara
articles! Stay tuned for all the awesome that will be unveiled in the near
future! Here are a couple pictures from the show. The real treat is the awesome
Mario cosplay I did on the first day, though! Check out the gallery my editor
put together for me, sweetly, here!
My Booth and I on day
one of the convention. With my Mario outfit that I crafted from scratch!
Day two with some of
the sexiest girls at the event! My job is just so hard!
Without further ado, this article's
Ask Tara question is, “Hi Tara. I know you love Mortal Kombat,
but what I want to know is, which is better: Tekken or Mortal Kombat?" I
actually love this question! If you had asked me when I was super young, and
spending at least five hours a day playing Nina and Ling Xiaou in Tekken 2 and
3, the answer would have been hands-down Tekken. As a franchise, though, now
that I have played all of the Mortal Kombat games (well, most of them...) and
actually taken in the depth of the story and characters… It's close! I would
have to say, ultimately, that Mortal Kombat takes the prize! Keep them coming!
Tara has spoken... Mortal Kombat Wins!
Follow Tara at her official website,