Task Force - First Impressions
Written by Justin Fleming
It is no secret that I love SOCOM US Navy Seals, the popular third person tactical shooter series that last saw the light of day in 2011 with arguably its worst game of the series, SOCOM 4. SOCOM 4 marked what seems to be the death of the beloved franchise. The series laid the ground work for online multiplayer on consoles and does not get the respect it has earned or deserved. There is no Call of Duty on console without SOCOM.
However, I’m not here to relive the glory days of SOCOM. For all I know, SOCOM is dead. SOCOM is the past and there is no reason for me to believe it is coming back. I am here to talk about the future. I am talking about Task Force, a new tactical third person shooter from Tracer Interactive. You may not have heard of Tracer Interactive, I know I hadn’t until I discovered this game. Tracer Interactive is a relatively small team comprised of a group of modders. They have been hard at work on this project for about ten months. While you may not know the name Tracer Interactive, you may be familiar with some of their work. Tracer Interactive utilizes some of the development team behind the SOCOM Source and SOCOM: GO mods. When the SOCOM Source and GO mods disappeared, I honestly thought I had seen the end of SOCOM as H-Hour is no replacement.
This game is being built upon the Unreal Engine, a first for this group of developers that had previously only used the Source Engine. I’m told that once the team was able to grasp the Unreal Engine and get over the learning curve, they set their sights on a playable alpha. I recently was able to get some play time with Task Force, which is currently in alpha and I must say, I’m in love. While the game is in development for PC and Steam, Tracer Interactive has become an official Sony Interactive Entertainment Partner and will hopefully receive console development kits soon; something the developers of H-Hour were never able to do. During my time with the alpha, I played on two maps; one was the classic extraction game mode where you are tasked with rescuing and extracting hostages and the other being the classic bomb game mode where there is a bomb in the middle of the map and both sides fight to obtain it and plant it on the other team’s base.
The game features the classic SOCOM 1 and 2 style armory where you select your gun but don’t have to worry about all the attachments. I’m not sure if attachments are part of the future but I personally hope not. Once SOCOM became too complicated with all that stuff and included vehicles, it died. The gunplay feels great, the maps, even though they were not recreations of SOCOM maps, felt nostalgic enough that it brought back memories.
This opportunity to get into the alpha was made possible by [P$] Dirty, someone who has been testing the game since July. He came in during the pre-alpha state and moved into the alpha. “I’ve seen it transform from bare bones into a feature rich game that’s already fun to play” he told me.
“From the moment I jumped on, it had that classic, PS2 era, SOCOM feel to it. I love that the devs actually know the SOCOM community and are making a game that will scratch their itch. Task Force is definitely has its own identity, but the foundation is built on the core mechanics that SOCOMers are looking for. I’m most excited for the integrated competitive systems with automated matches and reporting. Competitive gamers are often neglected by developers so I’m stoked to have one who’s focusing on a competitive scene. Clan wars were a huge part of what got me hooked on gaming, but dealing with 3rd party sites has become tedious.” [P$] Dirty was recently hired as the community manager for Task Force.
They are now starting the process of tearing down our alpha build and working towards a more polished beta. Once that's ready they will be opening the game up for competitive testing. You can make a donation to the development of this game via their website. No release date is set in stone but they are shooting to launch Task Force on PC sometime in early 2018. You can find more info on their Steam store page at the following link:store.steampowered.com/app/611300/Task_Force/
After spending some time with it, I can say that I fully believe this is the game that SOCOMers have been waiting for. Since the alpha ended, I have been anxiously awaiting word of the beta. This is one game to keep an eye on.
CORRECTION: Apparently SOF Studios, the team behind H-Hour does in fact have a PS4 dev kit. This tweet sent out in 2014 seems to confirm this. However, that was over three years ago so my skepticism of H-Hour ever being released on PS4 remains intact.