SOCOM: Navy SEALS (The arrival of console online gaming)

These days I am strictly a console-gamer. I used to do computer games but got tired of the yearly commitment to upgrade my videocard and processor to play the latest batch of games the way they looked in press release screenshots. I figured, $300 per console for about a five-year life-span isn’t a bad investment when you consider that the $300 for a new video card each year adds up to about six games more I can get.

So anyway, back in my CG days I played plenty of multiplayer games because competing against a live human is one of my favorite parts of gaming (the Penny Arcade clan would agree I’m sure). Anyway, being a former Counter-Strike (et al) junkie and moving to consoles has not been kind on my desire for online multiplayer action. Therefore, I am readily awaiting the arrival of SOCOM: Navy SEALS for the PlayStation 2 when it comes out this month.

Finally, the chance to finally partake in some online multiplayer in a squad-based tactical shooter! I’m really looking to seeing how the voice chat feature works out. Microsoft has dictated that every title on its XBox Live network is supposed to have a similar feature. According to all the gaming press previews about the voice chat it’s been cool – but who knows what kind of garbage is going to fill the airwaves when the general masses get ahold of it. Text in CS was bad enough but that thought doesn’t dampen my enthusaism.

Well, I’d be interested to hear what anybody else thinks about SOCOM or online console gaming in general. I had a Dreamcast and thought that it rocked on it so I’m really excited about the next-gen consoles going online with broadband (goodbye lag). There are some pretty interesting games coming down the pike for the PS2, XBox and GameCube that feature online (do a search on GameSpot) which are not the traditional CG-style online games.

I think I’ve rambled long enough. Thanks for listening!

Until proven wrong, I’m sticking with the assumption that peripherals will never ever sell well enought for consoles to produce anything other than a few niche titles. That means no light guns, no four player controller adapters (though outside of Sony, this problem has disappeared), no add-on drives, and no modems among other things. The only way Dreamcast achieved the (relative) success in it’s online gaming was that the modem was included. I don’t think attitudes have shifted enough yet for the PS2 to overcome the peripheral problem for it’s modem. Same as it always is: There won’t be any games using it because people won’t be buying the modem (or other peripheral) because there won’t be any games using it. I’d love to be proven wrong, and I’m sure I will at some point, but I can’t get my hopes up for it yet. If anyone’s got a shot at online play in the consoles, it’s MS this time with the broadband adapter included (though the fact that it’s strictly broadband could hurt it just as much).

So anyway, I’ve barely looked at SOCOM beyond finding out it’s the only thing outside of FFXI to generate any hype for PS2’s online future. Oh, and the dismal performance of FFXI in Japan combined with the announcement of an eventual PC version has killed any ideas from it’s announcement a few years back that it would usher in the grand era of online gaming to the consoles.

I think online console shooters will need to pick up a whole new audience due to the lack of mouselook. I’ve played a fair amount of Halo, and have tried MOH:Frontline in the store, and the thing that bugs me the most is the slow turning speed. From what I have seen so far, the game designers compensate in the SP game by putting most enemies in front of you. When playing MP Halo, it feels like I’m playing the old vector Battlezone as I try to turn (or backup and turn) to bring my weapons to bear. That alone will keep me from console shooters, and I imagine many more will feel the same way.

Also, there is a serious problem with team killers and other griefers in online play. Even if friendly fire is turned off, idiots will stand unmoving in the doors leading from the spawn area, or take a necessary object (i.e. bomb, papers, whatever) and purposely hide it or run away from the goal. Assuming the consoles are reaching a younger audience, and given my experience that TKs are generally in their early teens, I think the online console shooters will quickly devolve into useless chaos.

Will there be some way to set up your own servers, or control the game in some fashion? I’ve got a select group of public servers that I will play on because they set up rules against the TK/griefing problems and then actually enforce them. It is frustrating to play on a server where some idiot continually kills his own team, but it is fun to watch those idiots do it once and then immediately be permanently banned.

I think the solution is to just start building up a buddy list of people who you enjoy playing with. I’m pretty sure the Xbox Live stuff has really good support for this – supposedly games will notify you when your friends are online and allow you to message them, even if they’re playing another game, which sounds really useful. It’s unfortunate that Sony’s chaotic online strategy doesn’t really allow for unified features like this (also stuff like the matchmaking services), because I really think that they will make a big difference in the overall online experience. People may deride WC3’s matchmaking, but it’s incredibly nice that I can jump onto Battle.net and be playing a game in less than 30 seconds.

Re: SOCOM…played a live network demo of it a few months back (no headsets, but it was all in the same room). Not really impressed, just felt kinda flaky. Same goes for the online Twisted Metal game, actually. Can’t comment on FFXI or any other online titles, though.

FWIW, I think that shooters won’t be the most popular online console games…it’ll be sports and driving games, and possibly MMORPGs.

“Finally, the chance to finally partake in some online multiplayer in a squad-based tactical shooter!”

I guess if consoles are your only alternative its at least…something. The PS2 version of Tribes 2 just looks like a “lite” version. I mean they take out the best part of the game, its size. Smaller maps and only 16 people at once.

I didn’t even consider the controller issues, but I find it funny you mentioned Halo and MoH Frontline together. I find them at opposite ends of playability, Halo feels elegant with a controller in a way only maybe Goldeneye approached, while Frontline felt nearly unplayable.

I think MechAssault will do well for the Xbox controllers though.

"These days I am strictly a console-gamer. I used to do computer games but got tired of the yearly commitment to upgrade my videocard and processor to play the latest batch of games the way they looked in press release screenshots. I figured, $300 per console for about a five-year life-span isn’t a bad investment when you consider that the $300 for a new video card each year adds up to about six games more I can get.

So anyway, back in my CG days I played plenty of multiplayer games because competing against a live human is one of my favorite parts of gaming (the Penny Arcade clan would agree I’m sure). Anyway, being a former Counter-Strike (et al) junkie and moving to consoles has not been kind on my desire for online multiplayer action. Therefore, I am readily awaiting the arrival of SOCOM: Navy SEALS for the PlayStation 2 when it comes out this month.

Finally, the chance to finally partake in some online multiplayer in a squad-based tactical shooter! I’m really looking to seeing how the voice chat feature works out. Microsoft has dictated that every title on its XBox Live network is supposed to have a similar feature. According to all the gaming press previews about the voice chat it’s been cool – but who knows what kind of garbage is going to fill the airwaves when the general masses get ahold of it. Text in CS was bad enough but that thought doesn’t dampen my enthusaism.

Well, I’d be interested to hear what anybody else thinks about SOCOM or online console gaming in general. I had a Dreamcast and thought that it rocked on it so I’m really excited about the next-gen consoles going online with broadband (goodbye lag). There are some pretty interesting games coming down the pike for the PS2, XBox and GameCube that feature online (do a search on GameSpot) which are not the traditional CG-style online games."

-Gibreal

First…

Unless you get together with some of your buddies who like to compete and play for real, I doubt that you will be able to find a public server that will take this game seriously. Supertanker brought up a good point. There are too many griefers who like to go to the public servers and try to ruin the game for other people. And I can imagine that it will be even worst on a console. Consoles are still primarily a teenage item, and most of the player killers are teenagers. So… the player killers and griefers will be abundent in online console land.

Second…

Maybe voice chat will work and it does sound like a cool feature, but how is Microsoft going to filter out the foul language and the racial and homophobic slurs that will probably donminate online play. We’ll have to wait to see what happens…

Third…

I know that online console gaming is going primarily broadband, but aren’t they ommiting the larger market? And that’s the 56k users. 56k users make up a much larger market (I have 56k modem) then broadband users. The roll out of broadband had been horrible. The percentage of Americans that have braodband is very low. So hopefully the console makers will have 56k options ready for the 90% of the people who don’t have cable or dsl.

Finally…

Your overstating the fact that you need to buy a video card and processor every year to play newer games. If you did a search on price watch you would find:

Athlon XP 1700 = $69
Geforce 4 ti 4400 = $150

total = $219

And that’s probably going last you 2 years with current and upcoming games, unless you like to run games at high resolutions with 4x antialiasing enabled.

:D

Gibreal,

I can’t speak on SOCOM’s multiplayer or voice tech…but I actually was impressed with the single-player demo. I’m also a devout PC guy, but have been having fun with the PS2 since I got it.

Yes, shooter control sucks compared to keyboard and mouse. Supertanker’s comments seem to jive with the level design in the demo; enemies are generally in the forward region, and thank God there aren’t situations where they cheaply spawn behind you. Enemies also seem slow to notice you and bring their weapons to bear, which I think is fair given the limitations of the player’s control.

The research behind the title isn’t bad…they appear to have the basics, weapons, and the terminology right. I like the variety of the goals in the mission. You get to kill bad guys, of course, but there’s also places where stealth is handy. You get to do a prisoner snatch and play with some demolitions.

What I appreciated most was the AI of the teammates. These guys could be commanded through a simple menu interface, were good about watching my back, and were decent at pathfinding. They also kept formation and followed the leader’s cue to go prone. It’s been a while since I’ve seen small squad AI that wasn’t absolutely embarrassing. SOCOM is no Operation Flashpoint, but the demo sparks good memories of the old EA Seal Team game.

Consoles … yuck.

:roll:

Not only are the upgrade costs overstated, but it neglects the fact that console games tend to cost more.

Nevertheless, PC’s are clearly more expensive over all. But since I like RPGs and strategy games (not the consoles forte), it’s worth it.

Good to see Blizzard hard at work on changing that though, $60 and $75 for special edition? No thanks :)

I’m back!

First off, let me clarify one thing: I am not engaging in a computer vs console online gaming debate. CG will most likely always be ahead because of its open-box nature. What I was really trying to spur was a debate over the dawning of the online era for consoles.

To me, it’s a clear evolution as consoles become more and more power you will see more and more sophisticated software that will rival computers. In the near future, I see a world where computers will be reserved for hobbyist who like to constantly upgrade their box and be on the cutting edge. Consoles will be reserved for people like me, who are hard-core gamers, but don’t want to have to worry about the constant upgrading and hardware/driver conflicts that come with that scene. Now, one is not necessarily better than the other as each have their own strengths and weaknesses. I merely happen to prefer consoles for the ability to walk into a store, purchase a game for whatever system I own, go back home and be 100% certain the game will load and run the exact way the developer intended.

It was pointed out that my estimate of $300 for a yearly videocard upgrade as a bit high. Even at $219 a year, you’re still spending $1095 over a five-year span (an average consoles life-span) for computer upgrades opposed to a single $300 purchase. Again, I’m making no judgement, just stating facts. For me, consoles allow me to look at screenshots and be amazed at how good the game looks (see Panzer Dragoon Orta) and know when I take it home, that’s how it will look. Computers on the other hand are a different story. Take the Doom III screenshots. Sadly, most gamers will not play Doom III as it looks in the screenshots because of hardware restrictions. Will the game still be enjoyable? Most likely it will. It’s all about what you’re willing to pay for it look the way you want it.

I think the current distinction between what kinds of games are on PCs versus what kinds of games are on consoles will fade away, again, as consoles become more powerful and more PC-like (see XBox). The age thing will also go the wayside as you see console developers target different audiences (see differences between XBox, PS2, GameCube) and you see more crossplatform releases (Morrowind comes to mind).

But this is really not what I was wanting to talk about. I am excited about being a budget-concious gamer being able to participate in some heated online action on my console. I love games, love 'em and would consider myself to be as hardcore as the next gamer despite my platform of choice. To me, the most exciting next-gen system is the XBox (despite contrary opinion around here). To me, this system has the most exciting potential for great online play for people like me.

Imagine an FPS, like Counter-Strike is released for the XBox. Imagine that the developer also released modeling and mapping tools for Windows PCs for the XBox game. Imaging being able to make custom maps, models and skins and then importing them into your XBox game and sharing them with friends. Why couldn’t this happen? As pointed out in an earlier post, the XBox Live network has a really solid plan with some neat features that will appeal to gamers. As for the broadband only, well, it’s really the way to go for online gaming. If you don’t have broadband yet, I feel for you, but wouldn’t really want to play with you. So the broadband only really makes it an even playing field.

Anyway, I’ve probably rambled on long enough. I think the only prerequisite to whether you play computer or console games is that you have fun. If you’re not having fun, why are you bothering?

Thanks for posting, until next time!

I’m back!

First off, let me clarify one thing: I am not engaging in a computer vs console online gaming debate. CG will most likely always be ahead because of its open-box nature. What I was really trying to spur was a debate over the dawning of the online era for consoles.

To me, it’s a clear evolution as consoles become more and more power you will see more and more sophisticated software that will rival computers. In the near future, I see a world where computers will be reserved for hobbyist who like to constantly upgrade their box and be on the cutting edge. Consoles will be reserved for people like me, who are hard-core gamers, but don’t want to have to worry about the constant upgrading and hardware/driver conflicts that come with that scene. Now, one is not necessarily better than the other as each have their own strengths and weaknesses. I merely happen to prefer consoles for the ability to walk into a store, purchase a game for whatever system I own, go back home and be 100% certain the game will load and run the exact way the developer intended.

It was pointed out that my estimate of $300 for a yearly videocard upgrade as a bit high. Even at $219 a year, you’re still spending $1095 over a five-year span (an average consoles life-span) for computer upgrades opposed to a single $300 purchase. Again, I’m making no judgement, just stating facts. For me, consoles allow me to look at screenshots and be amazed at how good the game looks (see Panzer Dragoon Orta) and know when I take it home, that’s how it will look. Computers on the other hand are a different story. Take the Doom III screenshots. Sadly, most gamers will not play Doom III as it looks in the screenshots because of hardware restrictions. Will the game still be enjoyable? Most likely it will. It’s all about what you’re willing to pay for it look the way you want it.

I think the current distinction between what kinds of games are on PCs versus what kinds of games are on consoles will fade away, again, as consoles become more powerful and more PC-like (see XBox). The age thing will also go the wayside as you see console developers target different audiences (see differences between XBox, PS2, GameCube) and you see more crossplatform releases (Morrowind comes to mind).

But this is really not what I was wanting to talk about. I am excited about being a budget-concious gamer being able to participate in some heated online action on my console. I love games, love 'em and would consider myself to be as hardcore as the next gamer despite my platform of choice. To me, the most exciting next-gen system is the XBox (despite contrary opinion around here). To me, this system has the most exciting potential for great online play for people like me.

Imagine an FPS, like Counter-Strike is released for the XBox. Imagine that the developer also released modeling and mapping tools for Windows PCs for the XBox game. Imaging being able to make custom maps, models and skins and then importing them into your XBox game and sharing them with friends. Why couldn’t this happen? As pointed out in an earlier post, the XBox Live network has a really solid plan with some neat features that will appeal to gamers. As for the broadband only, well, it’s really the way to go for online gaming. If you don’t have broadband yet, I feel for you, but wouldn’t really want to play with you. So the broadband only really makes it an even playing field.

Anyway, I’ve probably rambled on long enough. I think the only prerequisite to whether you play computer or console games is that you have fun. If you’re not having fun, why are you bothering?

Thanks for posting, until next time!

FWIW, I think that shooters won’t be the most popular online console games…it’ll be sports and driving games, and possibly MMORPGs.

You’re right. It’s silly of people to think the most popular online console games will be PC style ones. The really popular online console games will be console type games brought online. Sports games, Madden and NFL 2KX, racing games, Auto Modesto and Gran Turismo 4, and fighting games, like those being produced by Capcom. It certainly isn’t going to be a Counterstrike knock-off or Everquest.

Gibreal

First…

Microsoft has basically squashed the 5 year span of a consoles lifetime. Think 3 years! I can’t see consoles having a 5 year life span anymore, especially since Microsoft has put extreme pressure on the other console makers. In fact isn’t there talk that the Xbox 2 will be out in another year or two?

Second…

If I can play my games at a resolution of 1028X768X64 then I’m happy. My games don’t need to run at the highest resolution possible with 4X antialising enabled. Your definitely right about Doom. Not many gamers will be able to run that game in all it’s glory, but that doesnt mean that it will not look good at an acceptable resolution. That’s what I like about PC gaming. The open-endness to tweak the graphics to what I find enjoyable.

Third…

I definitley disagree with you when you state that the current distinction between what kinds of games are on PCs versus what kinds of games are on consoles will fade away. I still can’t not imagine playing Age of Empires, Civ 3 or Shogun: Total War on a TV set when the keyboard/mouse are necessary to fully play these type of games. What are you going to do? Balance the keyboard/mouse on your lap while you sit on your sofa? Also… resolution will be an issue, because you need to be able to pinpoint items in the game that are no bigger than an ant. And I know about HDTV, but until it is the norm in American households it shouldn’t be an issue. And let’s not even talk about the First Person Shooter scene. Yes… Halo is an awesome game and plays very well on a console. But that’s just one game. Most FPS games on today’s consoles don’t nearly fare as well.

Fourth…

You state that you’ll be spending $1095 over a 5 year span upgrading your computer? Why should you do that? If you bought a G4 ti4400, and a AMD 1800 XP processor, why can’t this setup last you 2 years? Why do you need to upgrade every year? I had my Geforce 256 (ddr) for 2+ years and it ran great. I didn’t feel the need to upgrade every year.

Fifth…

In my opinion, not including a 56k modem for Xbox users is a bad decission. I do understand why they are doing it, but since the majority of Americans still don’t have broadband they may alienate a large portion of there user base.


Eventhough it might sound like I’m anti console I actually like consoles. The Xbox does look killer and I do want to get one, but the PC steals enough of my time. I don’t need another time suker…

By the way…

When the Xbox goes live let us know how the experience is? I’m definitely interested and I would like to see how your experience went.

thxs…

:D

I plan on being first in line for my Xbox Live kit, I’ll certainly have reactions.

Kinky !

I think very few people are arguing against the Xbox being exciting strictly as console hardware. Games library maybe, but despite the fiscal tanking it’s taking, clearly the Xbox is going to receive a large majority of the more complex PC style game ports in the future because of its hard drive. I still think there are quite a few classes of pc games that couldn’t possibly translate to consoles until we all have hdtv plasma displays (read: any game with more than 4 lines of text on the screen at once), and I think the cultural differences between console and pc gamers will continue to exist despite some current confluence.

But as for internet play, I can’t imagine the live kit being remotely successful in sheer numerical terms. How many people own an Xbox, have broadband, have games they want to play online and will pay for the kit/service? Whether it’s fun or not is almost beside the point, consoles are far too much about critical mass (which clearly for online play neither Sony nor Nintendo really feel has arrived by their lackluster support).

And I agree, broadband is the only way to go for real online gaming. But I’m with Sony and Nintendo, the numbers don’t add up yet.

“It was pointed out that my estimate of $300 for a yearly videocard upgrade as a bit high. Even at $219 a year, you’re still spending $1095 over a five-year span (an average consoles life-span) for computer upgrades opposed to a single $300 purchase.”

But you are still wrong. That isn’t the facts. If you think it is you are letting yourself get ripped off. Right now you can get a GF4 4200 for $150. That should have no problems last 2 years. Yes 2 years. Will you be playing at 1600x1200 with everything maxed? The same can be said for CPU’s and such(spending $350 on a P4 is a waste) unless you have tons to blow. PC gaming isn’t cheap but its not as expensive as you say.

Also I agree that 5 year lifespan for consoles is gone too with MS and Sony going at it.

“And I agree, broadband is the only way to go for real online gaming. But I’m with Sony and Nintendo, the numbers don’t add up yet.”

Yea but as much touting as Sony does about the “War” its won, we know MS didn’t make the Xbox to do it one round. They are aming for the future. They want the service and technology down pat for when(or if in some peoples opinion) it does start to come around more. Its hard too tell but it could make for a big advatage 3 or 4 years from now, because MS will still be there. Everybody knows MS doesn’t quit, and they have something like $30+ billion in cash to fight with.