This review of Soldier of Fortune took GR 5 months to write - which is one of the reasons I've switched to Gamespot for my gaming news. Had GR actually done their job and jumped on this game when it was released, the same WEEK of Call of Duty 4, it would have helped alot of buyers be more skeptical when considering purchasing it.
As for the game; normaly I'd be more defensive of a Soldier of Fortune game since I was a tremendous fan of the first game on the PC, but, SOF:Payback is a pitiful throwback to the days of 1990's PC gaming and in no way lives up to the legacy of SOF.
The SOF games have gotten aggressively worse since the first game's release. After SOF was released, the game was patched to fix several bugs and to reduce the gore level...and to improve the enemy AI. The enemy AI was basically ruined by the patch. Shooting at enemies caused them to backpedal as if they were beaten dogs being screamed at. Sometimes they'd walk in circles. The gore level reduction hurt the game too - a single shotgun blast used to be enough to drop intestines while a desert eagle could amputate arms and legs.
The second SOF game: Double Helix - was garbage. It introduced almost 20 different gore effects to the enemy's face and head, while the body pretty much went untouched. Intestines were left out of the game but you could now blow the skin off of torsos and see what appeared to be hearts/lungs or bladders. Very similar in effect to cutting someone in half in Gears of War, but not as gruesome. It introduced plenty of guns to the game but most of them weren't as fun to use as they had been in SOF.
Payback is worse than Double Helix. It seems to have been developed by the same people behind CoD4 but nearly everything about the game is broken.
Stabbing someone with a knife is done the same as it is in CoD4, but rather than a thrusting swipe, it is a straight forward stab that is almost impossible to hit an enemy with because of its short range.
You can also dash as you would in CoD4 but for the most part, its unnescessary because the enemies run straight at you - and PASS YOU - trying to melee you from behind. Its an easy attack to stop with a HAIL OF BULLETS.
The guns are ridiculously overpowered. pistols, shotguns and rifles completely amputate body parts or DECAPITATE the enemy entirely. Their head literally pops off nowhere to be found. The first SOF by comparison let you blow an enemies brains out leaving an entry and exit wound that depended on the caliber.
The AI in this game is ridiculous. Every enemy knows where you are - even at ridiculous distances and their shots are nearly 95% accurate. As the health system is the same as CoD4's, the only way to take out most enemies is to get headshots at a distance with assault rifles. As GR claimed, the boss battles are RIDICULOUSLY and artificially difficult. Unlike the last couple hundred men you were able to annihilate with one or two shots - the bosses have god-like health systems which allow them to take clip after clip of bullets to the head and face without dying. What really hurts is that when they use grenade launchers (such as the endgame bosses) you can be killed INSTANTLY and forced into a game savepoint reload that takes a ridiculous amount of time.
This game LOADS like a PC game from the days of 4x Cd rom drives.
The graphics are good and basically look just like CoD4's. The enemy models are more detailed and interesting than Rainbow 6 Vegas' but it is obvious that the game is racist (as were the originals) in that you basically plod through it annihilating brown people. In fact, the fascist/ white supremacist vs. colored people theme was a problem with the first game.
The problem I did have with the graphics was the game engine which causes enemy body parts to actually "dance" after hitting the ground - as if the physics engine doesn't know what to do with them. Shooting someone with a high powered weapon is also able to throw them sideways (and sometimes vertically for hundreds of feet). While that can be funny to witness, its obvious the gore physics models from the original are gone and killing enemies is no longer exciting . Its just "unfortunate" and "mean spirited".
Overall, this game was certainly not worth the $49 (or $59,) they demanded for it when they released the game alongside CoD4. The singleplayer campaign would take a veteran FPS gamer just 5 hours to complete and the multiplayer is basically empty since everyone nowadays is on Vegas or CoD4.
I got the game for $20 and I think that was actually $10 too much.