The most important thing to understand about SOCOM 4’s Move-based controls is that I am terrible at shooting games, and using the Move made me suck less.
The core of the controls is the basic running and gunning, and I would say that is pretty intuitive. It’s a simple point and click, with the gun’s crosshairs following the Wand’s position on the screen. The Move motion control analog stick controls the character’s movement, and turning is handled by aiming towards the edge of the screen, which will cause your character to slowly turn in either direction. The trigger on the Wand controls firing, and it feels precise and natural. Taking cover, though, took some getting used to; SOCOM 4 is billed as a core shooting title so there is a bit of a learning curve. The fact that I was able to jump right in and gun down terrorists with little difficulty does speak to the ease of learning the basic controls, although the fact that the demo made me invincible probably didn’t hurt, either.
SOCOM 4 follows the remains of a NATO squad in Southeast Asia after being decimated by a terrorist attack. The environment, at least in the level I played, was lovingly crafted to resemble that of an Asian village, with plenty of bamboo walls and jersey barriers to hide behind. Much of the cover is “soft,” which means it will take damage from gunfire and will get blown to pieces if you use a grenade or call in an airstrike. Grenades are pretty intuitive: you enter the grenade mode with the push of a button and control the arc of the grenade with the Wand. Airstrikes are much the same but I could never remember the exact controls to initiate the mode, and having already gunned down every terrorist in sight I ended up trying them out on a poor, innocent jersey barrier.
You, the squad leader, can signal your squad forward or recall them with the use of the D-pad on the Move motion controller. It’s pretty simple and intuitive, but I was usually too busy trying to load the terrorists with hot lead to notice, and the amount of terrorists who fell over before I had a chance to shoot at them indicated to me the squad was doing fine on its own. The AI is one of the major focuses of SOCOM 4, lead designer Travis Steiner said. Every time you load a level the enemy will act differently and often even spawn in dynamic locations, using cover and squad tactics against you and forcing you to react differently each time. It works pretty well, they’ll actually attempt to run away from grenades and are pretty hard to hit when behind cover.
In addition to the basic squad controls, you also have the ability to enter a command mode where you can map out the squad’s path like a football play, using the Wand to direct them in up to two squads and move them around buildings and into advantageous cover. Naturally, I didn’t even touch this feature, but for someone who is actually good at these kinds of games it sounded pretty cool.
SOCOM 4 will still allow for the traditional dual-shock control scheme Steiner said. The demo, however, only had the Move. There’s no official word on how the multiplayer will be handled, but the core Move-based gameplay is pretty solid, so those who have been looking for a realistic military shooter but can’t play due to chronic bad-at-shooters, it’s well worth a try. The Move works for SOCOM 4, and it’s an interesting way to play the game.