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by Activision


Grab your tech vest, satchel full of guns, and four truck-loads of ammo, because Soldier of Fortune is on the way and it's bigger, badder, and more polished then one could imagine.  With any luck, in a few short weeks Soldier of Fortune will hit the shelves of retailers and then the fragfest can begin. 

The game is set in present day, your character is an ex-special forces, counter terrorist who appears to be working as a hired gun.  It’s kind of like the A-Team, but instead of getting suckered into saving kittens from ex-husbands, you spend your time sneaking into VERY hostile situations and blasting your way out.  This is a far cry from the typical run and gun mindless shooters of the past (and present).  This game requires a fair amount of strategy and the computer AI is extremely devious, hiding behind closed doors, fallen objects, and around corners. 

This is also one of the most realistic first person shooters ever, and not by a small margin.  In fact this leaves just about everything else in the dust.  Graphics are incredibly detailed; both the scenery and characters have been painstakingly rendered.  Weapons are extremely realistic in their design and damage.  The Glock pistol does a pretty good amount of damage but when you break out the shotgun all hell breaks loose.  Limbs will be flying as you blast your way through, saving hostages and opening up a can of whoop ass on those that stand in your way.  

Of course with realism like this comes a lot of blood and gore.  This is hands down one of the most graphically violent games out.  Fortunately for all those grown-ups that have little ones running around there is a real handy violence lockout.  Unlike other game platforms this lockout is broken up into several stages so you can have some control over what your kids are exposed to.  Its not an all or nothing deal anymore,  which makes you wonder why it took so long to set it up this way.  The lockout is protected by a password, so if your kids don’t know it you can effectively monitor the amount of gore and violence that they are exposed to.

When this comes out next month (cross your fingers that it doesn’t get bumped back) it will definitely take center stage in the gaming arena.  The only other title that looks like it might give this some competition is the upcoming release Hitman.  Both of these titles are expected to take first person shooters to the next level, so if f you don’t have the two level demo yet, go get it.  Once you check it out you’ll see that this will be a must have.  The 20 odd levels and strong story line should make this a truly immersive gaming experience.  Add to that a potentially dynamite multi-player set up and this new kid on the block could have a shot at knocking Quake III and Unreal Tournament off their pedestal.

 --Ben Moore