The SOCOM franchise has been a huge hit for Sony for the
last few years and it was only a matter of time before the franchise made it’s
way to Sony’s luscious Playstation Portable.
Today we talk with Torin Rettig, the associate producer for the game
about what it took to downsize the game for the PSP.
GamingNexus: The past three SOCOM games for the console
have taken advantage of every button on the PlayStation 2's
control, what kind of concessions did you have to make in order for Fireteam
Bravo to fit on the PSP?
Torin Rettig: The biggest change
we had to make was our Target Lock system. It became evident very early on that
transplanting look control to the face buttons would not be a feasible option
for a number of reasons. One, it would immediately take 4 buttons away from us
and we were already 4 buttons short on the PSP going in. Secondly, and to us
more importantly, the face button look control never felt natural and responsive
enough to be a fun and useable control option in our game. So we came up with our Target Lock scheme and
made sure it was deep, robust and fun enough to add to the game instead of
taking away from it.
However, this still left us
about 4 buttons short so we had to get creative about our use of the remaining
buttons to still give the player the same degree of control that they had in
the PlayStation 2 SOCOM games. We
made some buttons do double duty by making a tap and a hold of the button
initiate different functions. For instance, tapping Triangle will change
stances, but holding Triangle will quickly switch between your primary weapon
and primary grenade. We also made it so that you had to be in your inventory to
change fire modes. Not ideal, but quick when you get used to it.
At the end of the day we managed
to keep just about all of the traditional PlayStation 2 SOCOM functionality alive and well on the PSP and actually, we
think players will find our control scheme faster and easier in some ways, once
they get used to them. We’re really proud of how it turned out.
GamingNexus: When SOCOM 1 was released on the PS2 it
quickly became filled with cheaters, what steps have you taken to make sure
there is no cheating in Fireteam Bravo?
Torin Rettig We employ the same
cheat protections in SOCOM: Fireteam
Bravo that we do on SOCOM II and SOCOM 3. It is a very powerful, thorough
and adaptable system that allows us to quickly deal with new and existing cheat
devices and punish the offending players accordingly, through warnings, banning
and suspension of accounts. SOCOM:
Fireteam Bravo will be just as secure as SOCOM II and SOCOM 3.
GamingNexus: Are the multiplayer levels the same as what is
found in the single-player campaign, or should we expect a different variety of
Torin Rettig There are 12
multiplayer maps total and four are based upon single player missions, but the
remaining eight are totally original.
GamingNexus: Are there any plans for downloadable content
for Fireteam Bravo?
Torin Rettig Currently there are
no plans for downloadable content.
GamingNexus: We noticed that there is a PSP headset
available that allows SOCOM players to talk to each other, was there ever
thought of bundling Fireteam Bravo with this headset (in the same way the
headset was bundled with the original SOCOM on the PS1)?
Torin Rettig That was a
consideration, but the schedule for both the game and the headset were really
tight, so we took that option off the table even though we know there are dedicated
players out there who won’t hesitate to pay extra for bundles. It’s only a
matter of time before the PSP headset is compatible with many more games.
GamingNexus: Are the multiplayer maps in this PSP version
smaller or larger than the PS2 versions of the game?
Torin Rettig Well the 12 SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo multiplayer maps
are certainly smaller than the SOCOM 3
maps, but the SOCOM 3 maps can be
five to six times larger than the SOCOM
II maps! We actually made a conscious decision early on that there would be
larger 16 player maps and smaller maps for eight players or less. The 16 player
maps are basically the same size as average 16 player maps in SOCOM and SOCOM II, but we definitely wanted to make smaller maps to
accommodate Ad Hoc play situations where there may only be four, three or even
two players. There are actually one or two maps where two players can run
around and encounter each other relatively often and have fun and we felt that
was very important since the likelihood of having 16 players with PSP’s standing
around in an Ad Hoc situation is slim. We’re pretty sure people will have LAN
parties with SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo,
but we really wanted to make it so even a very small number of players can have
fun in a map. Thus we created maps that cater to anywhere from 2 – 8 players.
In total six of the maps are 16 players and six of the maps are for the smaller
GamingNexus: We hear that owners of both SOCOM 3 and
Fireteam Bravo will be able to "link" the two games together; can you
explain how that works and what will change in either of the games?
Torin Rettig The link you’re
talking about is our “crosstalk” system. Crosstalk is the system between the
two games that allows your actions in one game to affect the other. Certain bonus objectives that players complete
in the course of missions in both games are crosstalk objectives. These are
objectives like finding an extra piece of intel, taking an important photo (in
PSP), blowing up a weapons cache or communications tower, etc. However, when
players complete these crosstalk objectives and finish the mission, they can
sync the data between the two systems and have their performance in one game
affect the other. So for example, if you pick up a piece of intel on an enemy
leader in one game, once you sync the crosstalk data, the location of the enemy
leader will appear on the map and through a waypoint in the other game. This is
just one of many similar examples. You can also reduce the morale of enemies,
eliminate their heavy weapons, reduce their numbers and gain other similar
advantages in missions through your efforts in both games. Crosstalk objectives
also unlock weapons and special multiplayer character skins.
Basically, a player who has both
SOCOM 3 and SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo can connect the PlayStation 2 to PSP with a
USB cable (the same cable they would use to transfer files between their PSP
and home computer) and sync their crosstalk data to unlock these mission
changes and features. We wanted to foster the idea that both teams simultaneously
are supporting each other and also help players get more out of both games. We
also thought it was just plain cool.
GamingNexus: Are there any vehicles available in the game
like there are in SOCOM 3?
Torin Rettig There are no drivable
vehicles in the game.
GamingNexus: In the past, some gamers have complained about
the balance between the SEALs and the Terrorists, what has been done to make
sure both sides have been balanced to assure competitive multiplayer games?
Torin Rettig Well, like with the
previous games we just make sure that both teams have access to weapons that
balance the other out. The M4A1 may be more accurate on the move, but the AK-47
is more deadly close up and in shorter bursts. Things like that. The easiest
way to achieve this balance would be to give both teams the same weapons, but
that wouldn’t be very interesting. There will always be some weapons that
players think is too powerful and that’s natural, but we’ve tried to make sure
that even though both teams have different loadouts, they each have access to
equivalent tools to get the job done.
GamingNexus: Was there anything you wanted to add to this
PSP SOCOM that you were unable to because of system limitations?
Torin Rettig There was nothing in
terms of gameplay or technology that we couldn’t do on the PSP. Sure we can’t
have textures that are as big and pretty as on PlayStation 2 and we may not be
able to have the same number of animations, but in terms of features, we got
everything in and more. We actually originally thought we would only be able to
support eight players online with PSP. We were truly ecstatic when we were able
to pull off 16 with voice chat!
GamingNexus: Can you talk a little about some of the
multiplayer games; are they the same as what we've
seen in SOCOM II and SOCOM 3? Are there
any new PSP exclusive modes?
Torin Rettig There are five
multiplayer game types total in SOCOM:
Fireteam Bravo. Three of the multiplayer game types are those seen before
in SOCOM. There’s Suppression, which
is team versus team death match, Extraction, where the SEALs have to try to go
in and rescue hostages being held by the Terrorists, and Demolition where both
teams try to pick up a bomb in the map, plant it at the other team’s base and
guard it until it goes off.
The two new game types, exclusive to Fireteam
Bravo are Free For All and Captive. Free For All is basically
no-holds-barred every many for himself death match. Of course though, we
couldn’t have SEALs running around and killing each other so you are only
allowed to play Terrorists in this mode. This mode was really important for asymmetrical
situations in which three players want to play. Two versus one isn’t very fun
and that’s the best scenario for Free For All. Every player is his own team and
all three can go and compete with each other for glory and bragging rights ;-)
The second new game type is
Captive and it is basically Suppression, but the twist is that you’re able to
freely revive fallen teammates as much as you want. So the goal is not only to
kill the other team, but to keep them dead. It leads to a lot of new and
interesting tactics and players on the public beta really responded positively
to it once they understood how it works. The tides of battle can really change
dramatically in this mode since it only takes one guy left alive to run around
and revive his entire team!
GamingNexus: Quick non-game question to wrap things
up. You have a blog up on your website
where you talk about the game and the development. Can you talk a little bit about why you put
the blog up and what kind of feedback you’ve gotten from it?
Torin Rettig We put the blog up
partly to generate interest in the game, but we also put it up to give
developers a rare chance to actually talk to the public about what it’s like
making a game, while they’re making it. Not many games that I am aware of have
done this. It is certainly a first for us and we thought that gamers would
really appreciate getting an insight into what goes into making a game from the
makers themselves as well as get the latest news on anything relating to the SOCOM franchise, direct from the source.
Response to the blog has been
overwhelmingly positive and we’re really excited and glad we put it up. Players
are really digging it and we plan to keep on posting when the developers have
anything interesting to talk about or share. Keep your eyes open. Could be some
cool stuff coming soon :)