David Mcmurdo On February - 5 - 2010

It’s rather appropriate that my first review for Wedotech be Soldier of Fortune which casts you as a mercenary because I myself have been drafted in mercenary style to contribute content to this site. The only difference between myself and a real life mercenary really is the fact that they kill people… and probably aren’t hunched over a keyboard with a nearby pouch of tobacco and a cold cup of coffee as their only sustenance right now.

I’d love to pretend that I chose to review this game just so I could write that opening but the truth is that Soldier of Fortune no longer works on my PC so the only way I’ll ever get to review it is through the written word. Before anyone starts throwing terms like “backdated drivers” and “compatability mode” at me please don’t. I’ve been gaming on the PC for nearly twenty years now and if there was a way to get the game working with my hardware, I’d have found it.

Now I must warn you that I’m about to review a manly game here which heavily features guns and explosions. If you’re a woman or gay then this review will probably be too hardcore for you to bear. You might not even be officially homosexual, maybe you just like playing The Sims. What I’m saying is that any degree of femininity will cause adverse effects when combined with a game as manly as Soldier of Fortune and indeed, a review as manly as this written by myself, the manliest of men. Oh what’s the matter? You’ve scrolled down the page and noticed there are no screenshots? Can’t read words without pretty pictures to accompany them? I spit on you fairy boy. What? The plastic chick hanging around my neck in my last video as I pranced around with my face half-shaved? My David Bowie, Queen and Elton John collection? Eh… can’t waste time chatting so onto the game.

Soldier of Fortune was released for the PC in the year 2000 and was developed by Raven Software who have built a reputation for generally delivering solid and enjoyable games. People will inevitably associate the game with the magazine of the same name and while the magazine itself is keen to emphasise there is no relationship between the two, it’s clear that both the game and publication are aiming for the same target market and by that I mean men who talk about guns in the same way the rest of us talk about members of the opposite (or same) sex. Frightening people who must be purged before they bring about the End Times.

Alright so I shouldn’t generalise. There are also the bullied school kids who fantasise about gunning down their tormentors, the morons who think that being good at first person shooters qualifies them as soldiers, the gore-fiends who come after every headshot and innocents like myself just looking to play a good game.

So which of those demographics does Soldier of Fortune satisfy? Well first and foremost it sates the bloodlust of the gore-fiends the primary selling point of the game being the ability to dismember enemies with all manner of guns. At the time this was very controversial and seen as “excessive violence” but the game isn’t actually that excessive. Shooting someone in the head with a 9mm pistol won’t result in bits of skull and brain flying everywhere. You need something with a little more firepower for that such as the “Silver Talon” or perhaps the shotgun.

Oh don’t get me wrong, Soldier of Fortune positively revels in its violence but this isn’t a FPS as envisaged by Quentin Tarantino. It’s bloody yes but only as bloody as you’d realistically expect when you use such lethal weapons against the human body. Let us not forget that the same people who wail about violence in videogames are often the same people who have no objection whatsoever to sending men and women overseas to incur horrific injuries for real. The terrible reality of war is kept out of their faces that way and they can continue to preach about how virtual slaughter is corrupting our youth.

It’s hard to tell what gun enthusiasts would make of Soldier of Fortune. There is certainly a good selection of weaponry such as the sniper rifle, the submachine gun, the heavy machine gun and others with depressing names like “M202A2 Flash Rocket Launcher” and “M343D Flamegun”. However I don’t know whether these are actually based on real weapons or behave like them and nor do I care and if you think I’m going to do the research for the kind of cretins who would care then you have misjudged me. There is a “Microwave Pulse Gun” which while certainly based on real weaponry (or at least a theoretical weapon) is not the kind of hardware you’re likely to see wielded on the streets anytime soon. There are also the obligatory items like body armour, grenades and health.

As someone who doesn’t spend his free time polishing guns and is no longer a virgin, I can say that the weapons are really fun to use and guns intended to be powerful certainly feel that way when fired. Soldier of Fortune delivers a satisfying arsenal even if the loser next door who refers to real guns as “toys” disagrees but frankly who gives a shit about him?

Soldier of Fortune is nothing if not cathartic so it should delay the quiet kid in the classroom from going on his inevitable shooting spree for at least a while. The real question is of course, is it a good game?

My liberal leanings tend to come across in most things I write mainly because I use every opportunity to get on the soapbox and the simple fact is I dislike guns. I dislike them because they are tools designed for the sole purpose of killing people and as such are abhorrent to me. It may come as a surprise for you to learn then that I absolutely love Soldier of Fortune. How can I loathe guns and love a game all about their use? Well the answer is in the question, it’s a game. More than that, it’s a game you’d have to be an absolute moron to take seriously.

Lets look at the facts, you play as John Mullins (a character based on real life mercenary John Mullins) who works for a fictional organisation “the Shop” which sends him all around the world on secret missions all of which boil down to “kill everyone” and you have a partner called “Hawk”. Hawk for fucksake. Your mission as the game opens in a New York subway is to kill a gang leader by the name of Sabre who towards the end of the level escapes on the roof of a train with his arms folded going “mwahahahahaha”. If there was ever a game that embraced all of the silliness we still love to watch old Arnie movies like Commando for it is Soldier of Fortune. This is not any kind of soldier simulation. This is a FPS in the traditional sense, run around, shoot the badguys and push a button now and then to activate something or other.

You’ll travel to Uganda, Kosovo, Siberia, Iraq, Sudan, Japan and Germany dispatching terrorists for Uncle Sam. When Soldier of Fortune was originally released there were some accusations of racism at the way certain countries were portrayed and at the fact you spend most of your time killing people with dark skin. While I have no doubt that certain people relished the undeniable jingoism of the game as they wanked themselves off with a miniature flag, I get the sense that Raven Software were subtly taking the piss out of such people. It’s like a joke you have to have a certain level of intelligence to understand. Because of this it’s a game that works for both crowds. If you really are an idiot who believes that the best foreign policies always involve bombs then you’ll happily wallow in Soldier of Fortune thinking it has been designed by people who think just like you while on the other side of the spectrum people with brains will be silently sniggering at the irony of it all and enjoying the obvious ludicrousness of the game.

Soldier of Fortune was made using a highly modified Quake 2 engine so the graphics are obviously considerably dated now but not to an extent that should prevent any real gamer from enjoying it. The music and sound effects are still great, hearing the screams of a man who just had his leg blown off never gets old for me.

If there’s one area where Soldier of Fortune still stands as an example to current developers it’s in the difficulty settings. As if five different difficulty levels wasn’t enough you can also customise your experience altering specifics like how aggressive the enemies are, how many guns you can carry and how many times you’re allowed to save the game during any given level.

Why the hell aren’t we seeing this option all the time in games? I’m so sick and tired of playing games that are pathetically easy even on their hardest settings. By offering the ability to not only choose from “Easiest” to “Hardest” but to also customise the difficulty in detail, developers can satisfy the hardcore gamers while not alienating their precious casual crowd so why don’t they do it? God damn it.

So that’s Soldier of Fortune for the PC summed up in one thousand five hundred and eighty-six words. It was also released for the Playstation 2 but I never played that version so I can’t comment on how much worse than the PC release it is although of the fact that it is worse we can be certain. At least with the Playstation 2 version you know the game will still work which is not a guarantee on the PC depending on your hardware unfortunately.

I enjoyed writing this first (and possibly last depending on how many people I managed to offend) review here on Wedotech. Of course the biggest problem with it is the fact that you don’t get to see my handsome face unlike here on my YouTube channel which you should definitely subscribe to if you haven’t already: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheFinalHighlander

Until next time, take care… and be manly. Like me.

David

Categories: Feature, PC Reviews
  • https://ufragtv.com bkmelendez

    Absolutely love your reviews on YouTube. I had never heard of you when I found out that WeDoTech had signed you on. I spent that whole afternoon going through all your uploads and I enjoyed just about all of them. They really brought back some memories and opened my eyes to some great games I never got a chance to play. Good to have you here mate.

  • https://?u=admin James Ireland

    “be like me, be manly….” lol love it

  • Rasmus

    Well, being a homosexual, pacifistic virgin, who have played my fair share of Sims (though I am not proud of it), I guess I should have stopped at the warning. Still the review is very well written and I was entertained throughout, even without your handsome and manly face (I’ll go to youtube for that). I have enjoyed all of your reviews in fact and recently tried playing Golden Axe with great nostalgic effect.. Thank you!

  • https://?u=admin James Ireland

    What an odd comment.

  • https://forums.sofxtreme.eu/index/ Yump

    I didn’t read the review really because i still play the game myself and glancing tru this review i saw you couldn’t play the game anymore !

    We fixed it to play again with the latest cards available from driver changes to a complete fixed playable Soldier Of Fortune version downloadable at https://forums.sofxtreme.eu/index/

    Greetz Yump

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