If you were paying close attention to the internet last night, you might have noticed an explosion of silence, a colossal wave of nothingness that swept from one corner of the globe to the other. The epicentre of that great non-event was Sony’s announcement of SOCOM 4, an “all-new SOCOM coded from the ground up for PlayStation 3” in which you lead “an elite, five-man squad” armed with the “latest weaponry” into combat with an “army of rebel fighters” in the midst of “inhospitable jungles, crumbling city streets and urban ruins”. We think we’ve seen this movie before. The black dude dies, right?
We don’t have a particular problem with SOCOM in itself – the Americans quite like it, apparently, and we enjoyed the PSP versions – but we do have a problem with SOCOM when it’s the “surprise Sony sequel” lurking behind several days’ worth of PR cock-teasing. SOCOM, let’s be clear, is far from surprising. Perhaps Zipper Interactive’s new game will take the franchise to unimagined heights, but for the moment at least you’ll forgive us not getting all hot and bothered at the idea of exploding jeeps, glued-down haircuts and people yelling “GOLD TEAM” into earmikes. Bad Company 2′s out today, chaps. This gutsy militaristic shizzle is ten-a-penny.
You know what isn’t ten-a-penny? Space dogfighting games. Non-combat-centric, third-person action-adventures. Old school Zelda killers. Sony’s back catalogue is stuffed with landmark IPs, elderly gems craving another lease of life on PS3. Here are a few of the names the publisher could and should have mentioned yesterday evening. (Bear in mind that we’re operating in the realm of wishful thinking here, and thus far, far away from any tedious commercial realities.)
Long before the now defunct Clover Studios rattled Link’s cage with the wonderful Okami, Matrix Software was kicking the yelping little twerp into touch with the sumptuous, plainly derivative but masterful Alundra. Beneath its large, crisp sprites and layered backdrops dwells a surprisingly mature storyline – players step into the boots of a Releaser, entering people’s nightmares to cure them of demonically inflicted psychological maladies – and some cracking, level-wide puzzles (think teleportation pads and movable blocks, lanterns and ice pits). You can get it on PSN these days. No excuses. The sequel’s funnier, but more of a trial and error experience.