Soldier of Fortune
- 10 international locales; high-tech weaponry; deadly enemies; intense AI; one-player action
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Note to customers: This very violent and graphically realistic game is not intended for anyone under the age of 18.
In Soldier of Fortune, players track down and take out a fanatical terrorist organization bent on mass murder and destruction. With an arsenal of deadly real-world weapons at your disposal, you'll engage in sabotage, stealthy assassination, and full frontal assaults in several intense missions. Only skill marks the difference between the hunter and the hunted.
Soldier of Fortune is a conversion of an 18-certificate PC game infamous for its politics and excessively violent nature, a first-person shooter straight out of the Quake II school. Four nuclear warheads have been stolen by a terrorist organization; they have to be retrieved and the people responsible eliminated, and thus you must make your way from A to Z, hitting switches, opening doors, and laying waste to a near endless supply of henchmen. The visuals are solid if unspectacular, but offer a variety of locations and environments. One level may not differ greatly from another, but it's thoroughly entertaining stuff, and atmospheric as well thanks to some moody background audio. Surprisingly for a console FPS, the joypad actually gives a tight, intuitive control (keyboard and mouse are also supported).
There are drawbacks that stop this title short of greatness. The enemy AI is lacking and can result in soldiers standing motionless while their comrades are shot down around them. Slowdown does occur towards the end when the terrorists throw everything they have at you (including a helicopter gunship), and long loading times between levels don't help the cause either. There's no online play, but the lack of any multiplayer options at all is a more severe omission--this would have given longevity to a game that's absorbing but lacks true replay value. --Jonathan Winter
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At it's base, soldier of fortune is your standard "i'm an unkillable black-ops soldier-man what kills all the baddies and saves the world". Generic story that feels like a B-knockoff of a better Bruce Willis or Sylvester Stallone film (even though it's apparently 'based' on the life of some actual black-ops dude and apparently making the game was what happened AFTER he failed to get his movie treatment off the ground in hollywood) where you run through somewhat generic locales mowing down scores of enemies along the way. However, the thing that really made this game stand out was the level of violence it presented as it featured locational damage and very graphic damage effects.
Now, this was not the first time locational damage had been used (Outlaws featured different death animations based on shooting enemies in the legs/torso/head and Quake 2 had a few enemies that would lose a limb or head depending on where they were shot) and it was definitely not the first time graphic damage effects were used (SiN and Kingpin were released in 1998 and 1999 respectively and each featured locational damage on the enemy models and they, along with just about every first person shooter going back to Doom, featured enemies that would explode into gory bits when struck with enough firepower). What SoF did differently pull those trends into an area that (at the time) was practically hyper-realistic. If you shot an enemy in the head with a 9mm pistol, a bullet hole would appear and he would drop. Shoot him in the chest or legs with the same gun, same result. But pick up a .50 Desert Eagle and shoot the same enemy in the head and he loses a quarter of his head in a poof of red mist. Blast an enemy in the leg with a shotgun and the leg is torn off while the enemy hobbles around on their remaining leg until they die shortly after. The game's enemy models featured 26 damage zones that could be destroyed. 4 for each limb (hand/foot, below the elbow/knee, above the elbow/knee, at the shoulder/hip), 4 for the head (top left, top right, top half, whole head), 2 for waist area (one for split in half and one for guts, yeah, seriously) and I can't remember the rest at the moment, but they were surely some variations on the chest. It was very graphic. Honestly, so graphic that I'm not sure if any games (beyond SoF2 and SoF3 of course) ever really went that far again.
It actually caused a lot of controversy with some places (specifically Germany and British Colombia) either refusing to sell it outright or classifying it as unfit for sale to anyone other than adults (think less Mature rating and more AO rating).
I thought it was pretty cool. The sequel is better, but it's a pretty fun ride. The Dreamcast port is pretty solid too (compatible with the Dreamcast keyboard and mouse as well!) All in all, if you're in the mood for a ridiculously violent ride (seriously, we're talking Mortal Kombat the FPS here) it's pretty fun.
Gameplay: I love how much you can configure things. I use a keyboard and mouse and you can assign every function to the keys you like. This is the only way to go if you can afford it. I couldn't imagine using the controller. Load times, as mentioned in the summary, is the only sore point.
Graphics: The graphics are pretty top-notch but not as pretty as Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament for Dreamcast. The models of the characters seem blocky to me but they aren't horrible. The environments look good but not great. The menu screens look excellent.
Sound: Sound is on par with most games of this type. Music is good, not great. Weapon sounds and voices are pretty well done but again, nothing special.