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Why Sony Needs To Make SOCOM: Tactical Strike 2 For the PS Vita

(I originally wrote and published this article for SonyRumors.Net)

Slant Six Games has created some of the best tactical shooters on the PSP with the SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo series. The developer not only got around the “one thumbstick” control limitation of the system, but they have even built a large and dedicated online following throughout their games. SOCOM: Tactical Strike was a departure for the series and one that Slant Six and Sony took big a gamble on; the end result was a successful blend of Full Spectrum Warrior tactical gameplay with the mission and action-focused SOCOM style.

It gave players a slower-paced campaign that allowed for in-depth planning and strategy, perfect for all armchair strategists. As strategic and fun as it was, because of its niche gameplay, Tactical Strike was quickly forgotten by the gaming media, and gamers by extension.

Given the processing power and control possibilities offered by the PlayStation Vita as well as Slant Six Games’ experience with creating AAA-quality portable games, SOCOM: Tactical Strike 2 could perhaps bring a more streamlined and accessible tactical action game that brings could potentially revive the action-strategy genre on handhelds.

After the jump, we show you how SOCOM: Tactical Strike could benefit from the PS Vita. While there, don’t forget to share with us your thoughts.

Imagine using touch to control your squad and your strategies

Touch Screen Controls

In Tactical Strike for PSP, players had no choice but to use the limited controls offered by the handheld. There were many times when I wished that I could just touch the fireteam that I wanted to control, and using my fingers, draw where they would have to go. This would really add to the strategy since I will have complete control on how my team moves, where they move to, and which cover they use on the way there. This would also cut down on the learning curve that scared people away from the first game. Sure controls were limited, but there were so many damn button combinations to memorize that I would gladly replace them with touch screen controls to simplify the process.

Let me use Uncharted: Golden Abyss as an example. Players can draw Nathan Drake’s path as he clambers up mountains. Imagine that with your SOCOM squad commands and it all becomes clear as day. Next let me use SOCOM 4’s checkpoint system where players can direct each of their fireteams using checkpoints for more strategic options before engaging hostiles. Imagine doing that with your touch, pointing/directing where your fireteams go before you take out those pesky insurgents.

Imagine being able to stack up behind doors, both fireteams on each side, and using precise-touch screen controls to order teams in to bang and clear the room. Click on the door to open, square button to throw a flashbang, swipe up to order fireteams to clear. Stack, bang, clear. Simple, precise, and deadly; especially with touch screen controls.

Voice-activated commands using the Vita's built-in Microphone

Voice Activated Commands

Oh yeah, the Vita has a built-in microphone. With voice-recognition technology as advanced as it is today, having voice recognition in SOCOM: Tactical Strike 2 will provide more precision to each of your strategies. Imagine this, if you will: You’re directing Fireteam A to flank the opposition using the pointing/drawing checkpoints with the touch screen, all the while directing Fireteam B to provide covering fire while moving from cover to cover using voice commands.

Imagine the possibilities for precise simultaneous strategies that players can do in the heat of battle. There won’t be a need for clunky option wheels when you have voice-orders in your arsenal.

Use the Vita's tilt functionality for full-battlefield awareness

 SixAxis Tilt Functionality

With the Vita’s second analog nub, it’ll be a lot easier to control the camera in the heat of battle. But, why stop there? The SixAxis tilt functionality can give players a better view of their surroundings as they tilt their handheld left, right, up, down and other directions in order to have total battlefield awareness.

This will help when players are outnumbered and outgunned, since enemy squads can suppress and flank as well. This battlefield awareness via the tilt functionality as well as the second analog nub gives players options on how they want to view each battle, and will help with the on-the-fly orders and decisions they will have to make in order to survive.

Use the Rear-Touch panel for binocular/scope zoom functionality

Rear-Touch Panel

Why fix what ain’t broke? Uncharted: Golden Abyss uses the rear-touch panel to zoom up and down whenever Drake’s got a sniper rifle. Why not use that in Tactical Strike 2 and improve on it? What if there’s a sniper on one of the buildings and your long-range fireteam is pinned down? Players should be able to use the rear-touch panel to act as a makeshift binoculars to find the threat and strategize on elimination options.

This will allow for separate aiming for both fire teams; Fireteam A can be directed to shoot at targets using the front touch screen, while Fireteam B can have their aim directed using the rear-touch panel. Again, this adds to the on-the-fly decisions that most players would love to see from a modern tactical action game.

With simplified controls, a focus on total battlefield awareness, and smart use of all the PlayStation Vita’s functions as control possibilties, I firmly believe that SOCOM: Tactical Strike 2 would be a successful game for Sony’s brand-new handheld.

What features, control sets, and functionalities would you want to want from a SOCOM: Tactical Strike sequel?

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on April 9, 2012, in Opinions And Editorials and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. yes please!!

  2. Awesome article, I wish you got more traffic for it!

    I really hope that SOCOM, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six learned from their PSP flops and don’t make the same mistake Zipper did with their first Vita releases. They all have some outstanding titles, but their PSP releases were pretty bad. Minus the Fireteam Bravo series.

    • Thanks for the kind words Noah!

      The funny thing is, I visited Slant Six Games (the developer of Tac Strike and Fire Team Bravo 3 for PSP) and they said that they read and appreciated the article. Unfortunately it’s not up to them. It’s up to Sony whether Tac Strike 2 ever gets the green light.

      I think it’s time to resurrect Full Spectrum Warrior-type RTS/Action hybrids, don’t you think?

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