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Soldier of Fortune

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Raven
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 32
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Although it utilizes the somewhat dated Quake 2 engine, don't get the impression that Soldier of Fortune doesn't have the goods to deliver visually; Raven's brand-spankin'-new GHOUL rendering system works wonders for their newest shoot-em-up, to the point that any ordinary, uninformed gamer would never suspect that SoF is based on a highly accelerated version of Q2's game engine. The characters are vividly animated, the sky textures are beautifully drawn, and boy, does that blood look nice when it sprays against a wall. Unfortunately, in the Tactical Low-Violence Version of SoF, all gore is removed from the game to emphasize traditional gameplay over senseless violence, ideal for parents to offer to the younger gaming generations. Still, a huge part of this game's graphical appeal is found in dismembering your enemies. =)

Oh, but the sound and music in Soldier of Fortune are absolutely incredible, to say the least. You won't hear weapon effects and screaming terrorists sound this realistic outside of an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, and the dynamic soundtrack must be heard to be believed. Fitting Arabian-themed tunes accompany you (American mercenary John Mullins) on your missions through the Middle East, and semi-tribal rhythms play on in the background as you stalk your opponents through an African camp. Trs creative.


Gameplay:

Since its first showcasings at E3 and QuakeCon '99, SoF has been wowing the masses with its groundbreaking innovations in gameplay, and the final build of the game certainly doesn't disappoint. Although it plays a lot like other recent FPS contenders (Half-Life, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, etc.), this game's loaded with nifty features that you can't find elsewhere. For instance, with a few shots from the trusty sniper rifle, you can pop off an opponent's hat and sunglasses before shooting the gun out of his hands and proceeding to splatter his brains across the pavement. Well, in the Tactical Low-Violence Version you can't pull off that last part, of course, but in the normal version of SoF, the possibilities are endless. Tag a terrorist in the groin and watch him clutch himself and howl; jam a knife into his ankle and giggle as he grabs his leg and limps around; or if you're feeling particularly nasty, try a shotgun blast to the stomach and watch his guts pour out. Ick.

Another nice addition is your Personal Audio Detection Device (PADD), which keeps you informed of how much noise you're making by emitting a series of beeps which increase in volume as you cause more of a commotion. When the meter hits the red area, you've alerted more enemies to your presence and must deal with the consequences. While not exactly as effective as, say, Thief 2's light detection meter, SoF's PADD system succeeds in adding a welcome element of stealth emphasis in an otherwise straightforward slaughterfest.


Difficulty:

Soldier of Fortune offers six levels of difficulty, each with its own number of saves allowed per level. In Effortless mode, the player can save as many times as he/she so desires; in Unfair, however, you can't save at all. Quite a challenge. This game doesn't require an immense amount of brainpower to complete, however, as there are only a couple of minor puzzles scattered among the levels, leaving little to the imagination in terms of problem-solving. Even the enemy placement is a bit lacking -- in almost every area, players encounter a predictable ambush around nearly every corner, evoking an element of surprise in only a few key moments. Nevertheless, these missions are very, very entertaining... but the seasoned FPS veteran should have no problem completing the game on Medium difficulty in under seven hours.

Game Mechanics:

The artificial intelligence displayed in Soldier of Fortune is nothing truly revolutionary; much like in other games of this genre, if you snipe a guard who's standing five feet away from two of his buddies, nobody seems to notice when he hits the ground after having received a bullet between the eyes. Had more AI awareness programming gone into this game before the finished product was shipped, SoF could have the potential to secure the title of FPS of the Year (well, let's not get ahead of ourselves). All in all though, Soldier of Fortune has the stuff to keep you entertained for a long, long time, especially with the furious action of its Multi-player mode, powered by the ever-evolving WON gaming network.

Parents, if you want to protect your kids from a great deal of the violence in this game, the Tactical Low-Violence Version is a wise investment; bloodthirsty gamers, pick up the normal version of this little gem and enjoy the massacre.


-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

Minimum System Requirements:



Pentium 233, 64 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 800 MB HD space, Windows 95/98/NT, 3-D video card with OpenGL support
 

Test System:



Pentium II 350, 128 MB RAM, 52X CD-ROM drive, Windows 98 Second Edition, Viper 770 Ultra (32 MB Riva TNT2 Ultra video card)

Windows Renegade Racers GameBoy Color/Pocket Croc

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated