Soldier of Fortune Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Soldier of Fortune Info


  • N/A


  • 1 - 4


  • Activision


  • Pipe Dream

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now


  • PC
  • PS2


The real Gore campaign.

With violence in electronic gaming coming under the ever increasing scrutiny

of the clueless public and casual links between psychotic behavior and bloody

entertainment being touted by all of the special interests, it’s very nice to

see that developers in our industry still have a little backbone. Violence has

always been a cornerstone of entertainment, existing to both horrify and delight.

It’s a tense balance, but a part of ourselves truly enjoys seeing other people

ripped to shreds and mangled by grenades, guns, and knives… as long as it’s

not real.

In a macabre way, violence in entertainment has always been the acceptable,

sane way to get immoral fixes. If it’s too real, like in the cult Faces of

films, then we get horrified, as we should. Yet in some instances

we prefer our fake violence to be as real as possible. Saving Private Ryan

was a success for a reason.

Gaming, however, has always kept its violence in the cartoon mold. Until now.

Punching it’s way out of Raven Software’s doors with all the subtlety of a

snuff film comes Soldier of Fortune. It’s the bloodiest, goriest, most

ultra-violent game ever made. It’s also fun. Surprise.

Using the custom GHOUL animation system and a tweaked version of the venerable

Quake 2 technology, Raven has made a first-person shooter in which limbs

can be severed, torsos can be disemboweled, femurs can be shattered, and heads

can be punctured, halved, or blown clean off. Combined with some all around

exemplary design, the effect is an extremely kinetic and straightforward action

game that no child should play, but that every adult can enjoy like a sick kid.

Soldier of Fortune casts you in the role of John Mullins, an ex-military

mercenary for hire. Mullins contracts mostly for a cloak & dagger anti-terrorism

outfit called “The Shop.” It seems that some South African White Supremacists

have stolen four nukes, blueprints for some Japanese super-weapon, and eviscerated

a few skulls. It’s your job, naturally, to traverse the globe in order to recover

the nukes, mangle the tangos, and eventually save the world, or at least New

York City (possibly the most besieged city ever, notwithstanding Tokyo in the

wake of Godzilla. That’s the nice thing about GR’s home, Berkeley – it never

gets obliterated, not even in Independence Day).

Hammy voice acting and slow-moving explosions aside, Soldier of Fortune

creates an almost disturbingly real gaming world. Most of the weapons are actual

current models and feel completely real in both appearance and sound. The effects

(as mentioned) look very real, and the settings are all authentically represented.

Architecture and texture work is quite believable for each of the settings and

although the main character’s voice acting is barely passable, the development

team took great pains to find people who could actually speak the foreign language

appropriate to each setting. Although this is by no means a realistic shooter

like Rainbow Six or SWAT 3,

the verisimilitude of the settings creates a game world that has no trouble

drawing you in.


there is a lot to like. Aside from looking great, each level always finds ways

to keep the gore-soaked combat interesting. Defensive formations and installations

are puzzles to be solved, with sniper rifle and matching gun. Options like number

of saves per level and carrying capacity can be tweaked in the difficulty settings,

allowing you to make the game feel like anything from Die Hard to Rambo.

Individual missions are split up over a few continuous levels and you can tweak

your inventory beforehand to help work the contract mercenary angle. It also

helps that your objectives have nothing to do with keycards or exit switches.

This may not be Half-Life, but it is interesting

nonetheless, and Half-Life never made you smile when you killed something.

Which is the main problem with Soldier of Fortune. Simply put, playing

this game, and reveling in the darker pleasures it offers, says something a

little disturbing about the player. While GR does not, in any way, consider

gaming to be a cause for psychosis or violent behavior, Soldier of Fortune

makes you wonder why we consider some things fun, and who exactly should be

having what kind of fun. What about me, for instance, made me keep pressing

the trigger and firing into the Iraqi soldier standing in front of me, expending

forty rounds just so I could keep his lifeless body shaking with the impacts

before I changed clips and watched him fall to the ground into a rapidly expanding

pool of blood?

This is a game for people who understand violence. Not only the difference

between real violence and cartoon violence, but what violence means and what

about virtual killing they should be enjoying. The fact that you hit the target

(which is the usual thrill) is harmless enough, but the fact that you exposed

his intestines to the elements might not be.

Children should never play this game. Even with the gore disabled (which is

very easy to do – you can even install it with gore locked out and there is

a Wal-Mart “Tactical” version of the game without gore), this is far too intense

and brutal a game for anyone who shouldn’t even be seeing serious ‘R’ rated

movies yet.

But, moral quandaries aside, this is an exceptional game. While it really

is just a lot of shooting in a variety of environments with a variety of unique

set-ups, it’s fun. This is Saving Private Ryan‘s D-Day scene without

feeling sorry for anyone. All around good graphics and sound, excellent architecture

and art direction, and omnipresent believability combine to create a totally

satisfying, if somewhat brief single player experience.

Multi-player is also done great justice with a variety of gameplay modes and

realistic settings that add up to a fast paced action romp on par with the best

out there.

Strictly speaking, you’ve probably seen all the gameplay mechanics in Soldier

of Fortune
before. Still, this an extremely solid first-person shooter in

the classic mold, which is refreshing after a season of deathmatch titles. If

you’re up for it, dive in, get bloody, and enjoy yourself. The real world of

a soldier of fortune can’t possibly be this much fun.


Exemplary graphics, audio, and level design
Challenging, engaging missions
Fun single and multiplayer
Killing things with intense gore is very fun...
Derivative gameplay