Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 11/11/01 | Genre: RPG
Soldier of Fortune Gold is a brute force, solid FPS that allows you to blow-up your enemies with a wide assortment of artillery. Unlike the more cerebral shooters like Dues Ex, or Half Life, SoF is all about combat and excitement. Pulling levers and throwing switches will be the extent of puzzle solving that you will be required to perform. Tearing off an opponents arm with a shotgun blast is particularly satisfying in SoF and the lack of thinking that is required to progress gives this game a distinctively visceral feel. As John Mullins, you will play the part of hired gun for the American government charged with successfully completing top-secret missions in exchange for a butt-load of cash. You'll also be given access to an assortment of high-powered weaponry to aide you in your tasks.
Terrorists have jacked four nuclear bombs and are planning to use them to horrible ends, it is your job to find these terrorists and put a stop to their diabolical plans. Along the way you'll be given assistance from Hawk who will provide you with pertinent information regarding your current circumstances. Over-the-top gore and violence is perhaps the most notable aspect of the game, with 26 target-specific locations on each enemy. Limbs can be shot off, heads can be exploded, and foes can be sent flying back after being shot by the more devastating weapons in your arsenal. SoF truly offers an unprecedented amount of detailed bloody combat sequences, lots of good killing can be found throughout the experience. Visually the game retains an appealing and fresh feel thanks in part to the various diverse locales that you'll find yourself in.
Music is somewhat forgettable with orchestrated scores that sound like they are being piped through a low-cost radio/alarm clock. Voice-overs sound ok but can at times be drowned out due to the game's soundtrack. Atmospheric sound effects help to give the game's levels a gritty, realistic feel but the sound clips that are used for emulating weapon fire is generic and tedious.
Raven Software took the creation of this game's universe very seriously, and even went so far as to base the story's protagonist on a real-life counterpart. That's right John Mullins, the main character of the game, is a real guy - an actual Vietnam vet and mercenary. While gameplay consists of your basic run-and-gun frenzy tactics, you'll find that SoF offers more customizable options then your standard console FPS. Before each mission you'll be given the option to choose from an assortment of weapons and armor, you can only hold so much so picking which equipment to use gives the game a rarely used strategy aspect. You'll also be able to define other facets of the game, like how many saves your allotted, difficulty level, and enemy ferocity. At the end of each mission you'll be scored based on various kill-shot types, the methods that you use to kill foes will be tallied and you'll be awarded with a certain amount of bonus cash depending on your in-game accomplishments.
Enemies are waiting around nearly every corner and there is enough shoot-em-up action to quell even the most die-hard FPS addict. And since your opponents have the brain-capacity of a walnut they quickly succumb to serving the purpose of providing you with adequate fodder. There are plenty of action sequences where enemies will attempt surprise attacks in an effort to take you out and the sheer amount of flying gibs more then justifies the game's brain-dead AI. Progression throughout the game is very linear however and you'll find little reason to replay the game after your first time around.
Gone are the long loading times of the Dreamcast port of SoF and despite consistent occurrences of halted gameplay due to loading the PS2 version is nowhere near as jarring as its predecessor.
Aside from the standard story mode Raven Software also included an appealing multi-player mode. No less then 40 multi-player maps are included and everything from standard deathmatch and capture the flag to assassin mode and conquer the base are in attendance. Like in the story mode you will also be given a huge amount of creative freedom in multi-player's gameplay aspects.
SoF makes no excuses for its straightforward high-intensity action, and does little to hide the fact that the game consists almost entirely of fast-paced bloody firefights. In addition, since the developers were kind enough to include USB keyboard/mouse functionality you'll find no reason to blame your low-frag scores on the imprecise, finicky dual shock control pad. This is solid, frantic FPS action at its best. If you're an FPS fan, you'd be well advised to pick this title up.