You know the drill:
Youre the greatest mercenary alive and only you can carry out the ultra top-secret
missions that will vanquish an evil terrorist group, out a corrupt government, or quell a
national enemy. In Soldier of Fortune, you play John Mullins, a Vietnam vet, and mostly
youll be taking out terrorist groups for a secret UN group called "The
Shop." If nothing else, Soldier of Fortune exudes toughness. Mullins is a trained
killing machine, everybody speaks in gruff voices, and the gore flows. This machismo,
combined with the locational damage system, made SoF a favorite among PC gamers. Majesco
is working on a PS2 version for this fall, but Crave has beat them to the punch with the
Dreamcast port. This is a much needed addition to the DC lineup, which is virtually
nonexistant these days,
First things first, the best part of Soldier of Fortune is the
gore. If youre not into gore, then dont even bother going any further. If you
are into gore, check this out: 26 "gore zones" on each character mean 26 ways to
mess a mofo up. Once you get the heavy machine gun, you can mow off both a mans legs
before he falls to the ground, writing in pain. The groin shot to head shot combo is
endlessly amusing. This is the kind of gore that you can scare yourself with, because you
will find yourself shooting enemies in the most painful and twisted ways.
Other than that, Soldier of Fortune is a pretty stock first-person shooter. You receive
a mission at the beginning of each level, select weapons, and head out to shoot bad guys
and rescue hostages. Rescuing hostages consists mainly of not shooting them, but sometimes
you must also shoot the enemy standing behind them, which is about the extent of the
variety. The levels are pretty decent, but typical sewers, subway, moving train,
etc. The weapons are completely expectable, too, consisting of the trusty combat knife,
9mm handgun, shotgun, sniper rifle, machine gun, etc.
graphics are not bad, but they arent spectacular either. Many of the levels are
dark, and doors or hallways are sometimes barely visible, which will cause at least a few
headaches. Otherwise, prepare to see lots of perfectly acceptable textures, lighting
effects, and character designs, but nothing that will blow you away. The character
animations are pretty fun. When a particular limb is shot off, the characters react well
and vigorously. The only problem is that when Mullins is shot, nothing happens. It is as
if the gore zones apply to the enemies, but not to the protagonist.
The sound is probably a high point in SoF, which is a good and bad thing. The
background music is suitably intense and important sounding, but the highlights are the
sound effects. Sound plays a role in the game because the more noise you make, the more
baddies come looking for you. But in the end, the sounds of guns firing, shells plinking
on the concrete, and explosives exploding are only so entertaining.
controls are pretty standard for DC FPS titles. They work OK, but become troublesome in
the most hectic firefights. The d-pad is used for several functions, including cycling
through weapons and item, and using items. These functions are dilineated by holding down
either of the two triggers. They seem simple enough in the tutorial, and even in the
earlier levels, but as things get busy, the controls just get more frustrating.
Fortunately, the enemy AI isnt so great, so you can do a lot of ducking for cover to
take care of reloading and items management.
SoF really only stands out in the ways it fails. After enough Quake and Unreal to
appease the most die hard FPS fan, I had looked forward to a story oriented title.
However, SoF doesnt include any multiplayer mode, which is just sad. It means that I
cant really share this game with my friends, which means it doesnt spend much
time in the old DC.
Sometimes you find a single player game that is fun in groups. Spectators can
enjoy watching the games story unfold and trading off controls can be enjoyable. But
watching, or playing for that matter, SoF on the DC is an exercise in masochism. The load
times are insane. One minute, two minutes, these are not uncommon load times. Add to the
fact that it may load as many as eight times throughout one level, sometimes to simply
show a cutscene in game graphics, and youve got a whole room full of pissed off
gamers. It makes finishing the game very difficult, simply because of the massive test of
I would recommend this game as a good, if light, play were it not for the load times.
Weve put up with load times for ages now, but games have gotten better, loading more
information in shorter timespans. Its just silly to take two steps back, as in
Soldier of Fortune. Add to the loadtimes tricky controls and the lack of a multiplayer
mode, as well as overwhelming mediocrity in most other areas, and youll find that
the only reason to play SoF is because its one of the few, last new things out for