Recently a legion of first person
shooters has made its way onto the PS2. Soldier of Fortune: Gold Edition is one of these
games. Being ported from the PC, it brings with it some of the most violent images seen on
the PS2. After playing the game I question whether the violent imagery is necessary. If
more time was spent on the controls and the gameplay, there should be no need for blatant
violence to sell a game. Soldier of Fortune is overshadowed by much superior FPSs
out there -- and not only recent releases, but also games that have been out for a while.
The story mode in
Soldier of Fortune places you in the role of John Mullins a Vietnam vet who now puts his
talents to use as a hired gun. Mullins has been hired to take out a world wide terrorist
organization. To aid him along the way are two allies; the first is Aaron Parsons who will
be the source of information as you progress through the missions. The second gentleman is
Sam Gladstone-- your supplier for weapons when beginning a new mission.
weapons are your comfort while in combat. They range from the practical such as a 12-gauge
shotgun and 9mm pistol to the extreme rocket launcher and microwave pulse gun. Adding some
additional support is five items that will aid you along the way. Grenades, C4 and night
vision are just three of the five that you will acquire. The key to all these weapons is
to use them against the appropriate enemy.
Story mode can
be played on six levels of difficulty. One setting is customized to your liking. Some of
the things that can be adjusted are the number of saves, how though the enemy is and how
many weapons you can carry. The story mode consists of 10 missions and up to 26 levels to
play. This might seem like a lot, but when actually playing the game it does not take that
much time to complete.
The real meat
and potatoes of the game is found in the multi-player deathmatches. There are seven modes
that can be played with up to three other players. There are some that should be familiar
with veterans of first person shooters. Standard mode and Capture the flag are the more
familiar ones. There are some that are unique, such as Assassin, where you have to take
out a specific person. Another is Arsenal; this mode makes you use only a specified weapon
to eliminate the enemies. Each specific mode is also customizable with ten options to be
turned off or on. These give you control over health pickups and damage among other
Some of the
biggest problems that stem from Soldier of Fortune have the controls to blame. I have
never played a game that needed so much time devoted to configuring the controls so that
they are acceptable for play. From the start, the analogs were so loose I was constantly
tweaking sensitivity to be bearable. At times it seemed that they would loosen up again,
and they needed more maintenance. At least we have the luxury of customizing the controls
to suit our needs. Auto aim has been one of those features that die-hards look down on
because it makes it too easy to succeed in playing such a game. Well not in Soldier of
Fortune; more often than not the auto aim gives you a false sense of security. Auto aim
might seem to line you up for the kill, but you would be surprised to find your shots
hitting slightly behind the target or hitting the target but not registering at all.
Fortune has excessive load times and not just between levels, but during a level as well.
It is not unheard of to be running down a corridor and have it slow down. Not only does
the speed of the game have issues, but also the visual qualities of the characters leave
something to desire. They are blocky and they look like theyre first generation
graphics-- not ones to grace a system that is a year old. The use of graphic violence adds
the touch realism that is not usually seen in games. There is a fine line between
acceptable visuals that add to a game and blatant attempts at a horror movie. Since each
persons tolerance is different, it is up to the individual to decide.
Soldier of Fortune creates some of the most haunting audio I've heard in a game. The
haunting part does not come from music but from the sound effects. Enemies and even
civilians will scream in pain if shot in a location that does not kill them instantly.
That sound stays with you even after they have passed on. Sometimes it seems more humane
to make sure that they go quickly instead of just wounding them. Other sounds are
accurately portrayed, such as weapon fire and the sound of bullets hitting solid objects.
Soldier of Fortune: Gold Edition offers many things that other games do not or are not
willing to, but at the cost of so much. Sure we have enemies with over 20 reactions
depending on what part of the body is attacked, but we loose graphic quality and controls.
This game leaves an impression on whoever plays it, but unfortunately that impression is
one best forgotten.