SOCOM, the PlayStation 2 phenomenon that helped define online gaming on the console is ready to rock PS2 gamers once again. Refining the gameplay introduced in the series' third iteration, SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault
introduces a host of new features including co-op gameplay, new vehicles, new weapons, and advanced AI. Whether you are a veteran of the series or are new to SOCOM, Combined Assault aims to offer you the best team-based gameplay and online gaming experience available. Read on as Lead Designer, Christian Sadak, fills us in on the details of his upcoming Action / Shooter.
Gaming Target: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Would you please get us started by introducing yourself to our readers and telling us a bit about the team behind SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault?
My name is Christian Sadak and I'm the Lead Designer for SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault.
The SOCOM: Combined Assault dev team is made up of roughly 31 people. We began pre-production in November of last year and went into full production in January of this year.
GT: One of Combined Assault's most exciting features is its co-op mode. Would you tell us about its implementation and what this new dynamic brings to SOCOM?
Co-op is the feature that we are most excited about.
For the first time in SOCOM, players can go through the entire campaign or an Instant Action mission with up to three of their friends online or on LAN.
Teamwork is vital to the actual Navy SEALs success in the field; teamwork is also a key component to co-op mode. Mission design and layout, enemy tactics, weapons and equipment were specifically created to encourage players to work together as a team.
The missions are designed around the player having total freedom to choose the order and manner in which they will complete objectives. There are almost always multiple ways to approach and deal with an objective and or group of enemies and you and your teammates can decide, based on you play style, how you want to handle them. You can use stealth tactics, direct assault, heavy explosives and or pretty much any tactic you and your teammates can think up. Then you can split the team up and spring coordinated attacks using a combination of these tactics. Our AI is mean this time around too so you'll find that you'll have to use team tactics to get through many enemy encounters.
GT: What can you tell us about the improvements that Zipper Interactive has made to both friendly and enemy AI?
The enemy AI has been completely revamped. Enemies are now aware of the weapon they have equipped and what tactics best suit that weapon.
Enemies wielding assault rifles move from location to location in an attempt to flank your position. Enemies with shotguns and sub-machine guns quickly rush your position. Machine gunners attempt to pin you down with suppressing fire. Snipers move to high ground and take potshots down at you.
The enemy AI is also much more aggressive and will actively search for players once they become aware and in general they are much, much tougher and far more aware.
To combat the new enemy AI in single player, we've given players new commands such as ?takedown? and ?intimidate? that they can issue to teammates. We have also brought back the ?stealth to? command and players can now issue commands to individual teammates.
GT: As for Combined Assault's ten new maps, what gameplay refinements are made possible by their layouts and mission objectives? Additionally, how will they compliment SOCOM 3's large maps in terms of adding diversity?
The new multiplayer maps in SOCOM: Combined Assault much more focused and compact which offers more action, more intense engagements and less travel time from point to point.
Also, the new maps take place in a wide variety of distinct environments and some are vastly different from any maps found in SOCOM 3. We have desolate winter/snowy environments, seaside environments and sparse forests as well as close quarters urban settings.
GT: Although the PS3 is currently grabbing the media's attention, the PlayStation 2 is still selling remarkably well and, no doubt, many of these new gamers are not familiar with SOCOM. What would you say to these gamers in regards to Combined Assault's accessibility to new players?
It can be a bit daunting, especially with a franchise that is now on it's the fourth instalment on the PS2. That is why we've included a series of training missions to help new players become quickly acclimated to SOCOM (SOCOM veterans may learn a thing or two as well). These training missions cover the basics of movement, weapon usage and interacting with items and the environment. They should prepare anyone new to the SOCOM universe well for SOCOM: Combined Assault.
GT: Speaking of the PS3, will people who purchase SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault be able to play the game with full functionality on the PS3?
Absolutely. After all, the PlayStation 3 is backwards compatible with PS2 and PS1 games. Online and offline you will be good to go playing SOCOM: Combined Assault on PlayStation 3.
GT: Would you please tell us about the Crosstalk system in terms of functionality and what it brings to the SOCOM series?
Crosstalk allows players to transfer the effect of certain specific Crosstalk objectives that they've accomplished in SOCOM: Combined Assault over to SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 2 (and vice versa) to affect the other game. When you complete a Crosstalk objective in one game then save your game data you can link the PS2 and PSP via a USB cable, go to the Crosstalk menu in both games and then choose the ?Sync Data? option in both games. Any Crosstalk data in either game will be transferred to the other.
For example: In the SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 2 mission, Eagle's Nest, players will have the opportunity to snipe down at enemies guarding a helicopter crash site. If players neutralize all the enemies at the crash site and then sync this objective with SOCOM: Combined Assault, when they deploy into the WINTERBLADE mission in the campaign and approach the crash site, they will hear the team from Fireteam Bravo 2 shoot the enemies from the cliff above, see the enemies drop to the ground, and then hear confirmation from the Fireteam Bravo 2 team that they've eliminated enemies around the crash site.
In addition, players will also be able to unlock weapons, movies, and music via Crosstalk.
GT: Does Combined Assault (or maps it includes) introduce performance tweaks regarding online play?
To maintain compatibility with SOCOM 3 multiplayer, any performance tweaks have to be in a form of a patch so that both SOCOM: Combined Assault and SOCOM 3 would benefit from performance upgrades.
GT: Lastly, will Combined Assault be SOCOM's last showing on the PS2, or will map packs and patches continue well into the foreseeable future?
We fully intend to support the SOCOM community going forward and to address issues affecting gameplay and the community in the future. As the SOCOM community makes the major issues known to us, our dev team and QA team will continue to investigate and release patches to fix those issues. We're hard at work on the next map pack as well and we'll let the community know when it's ready.
GT: Thank you again for your time! Would you care to leave our readers with any final thoughts or impressions?
We have packed SOCOM: Combined Assault with an enormous amount of content: a new 4-player co-op mode, a brand new campaign that spans 18 missions, compatibility with SOCOM 3 competitive multiplayer, 10 new multiplayer maps exclusive to Combined Assault, revamped AI, tons of Instant Action missions, new weapons, new attachments, new vehicles, and a few additional surprises.
SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault deploys to stores on November 7th and delivers the best SOCOM experience yet on the PlayStation 2.
Once again, we at GamingTarget.com would like to extend our thanks to Christian Sadak, Zipper Interactive, Sheila Bryson, SCEA, and Sony Computer Entertainment for making this interview possible. Be sure to look Gaming Target for continued coverage of this very exciting tactical shooter. In the meantime, check out Sony Computer Entertainment's official SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Combined Assault website.