SOCOM: Confrontation - hands-on

You've got to have nerve to make a game with no single-player component whatsoever. Well, unless you're the SOCOM team and you've been doing it for something like a zillion years. Though still months away from its September 16 release date, the game already plays with a level of polish and shine that most shooters never achieve.

There are only seven maps, each with day and night versions (though more will certainly be downloadable), but several are culled from the very best maps previous SOCOM games had to offer - and they've been tweaked, massaged, and enhanced for the move to more powerful hardware. For instance, the level we played - Crossroads - didn't just look fantastic with its sun-baked Middle Eastern town center, rooftops dotted with satellite dishes and clotheslines. It was much bigger.

Don't worry - the corridors, perches and stuff that made the original map so good are all preserved. But there are destructible objects from bicycles to cars, and the edges aren't the edges anymore. The map has expanded, and there are new home base spawn points for both the Commando and the Mercenary factions. By the way, you'll be forced to play both sides in each match, like when NFL football teams switch goal lines at halftime. Moreover, the fog layer is simply gone - from a high vantage point, your sight lines extend across the entire map.

We also noticed one of the best uses of the PS3 controller's tilt sensitivity we've yet seen. When you're behind cover, tilting the controller to the side will cause your character to peek out. Tilting up and down will make you crouch or stand. Nice touch. Another nice touch is the ability to view the action from either the up-close, over the shoulder camera most third-person shooters are adopting these days or the classic, pulled-back SOCOM camera.