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The Sum of all Fears

Developer: Red Storm Entertainment | Publisher: Ubisoft
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 05/30/02 | Genre: Shooter

So what would be your worst fear? Do you fear the government might soon make four years of college mandatory for all citizens? Perhaps you fear a Female ambulance driver rushing you to the hospital? Maybe you fear the long-awaited return of a certain idolized Jew from Bethlehem? How about a nuclear bomb detonated at the site of the Super Bowl? Now we're getting somewhere. This idea is the catalyst behind the latest tactical FPS from Red Storm.

First things first
Red Storm has made a pretty good living lately churning out these type games. You might have played some of the previous generation of games from Red Storm. Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon have been cherished by a fiendish cult of dedicated cyber soldiers for "realism" and mod capabilities. Indeed, SOAF has already endeared itself to the mod community by including an internal editor with the game that allows full customization of missions, weapons, characters?Ķyou name it. And players have already responded by creating and making available downloadable upgrade kits.

There can be only one
In the one player campaign, you play the part of a government agent called upon to diffuse a domestic hostage crisis at a West Virginia television station. You command your tactical team of three agents through linear quests, such as cutting the power eliminating the hostiles and rescuing the hostages. The TV station is your first mission. Successfully complete it and you'll be sent to a "militia" camp to take out the gang responsible for the hostage crisis. Eventually you'll be asked to dig up answers to the question, "Who bombed the Super Bowl?"

A nice little game
The Sum of all Fears is not a graphics extravaganza. If you want cutting edge eye candy you'll need to look elsewhere. But graphics is not necessarily the focus of this game. The focus is on gameplay, which is quite good. Controls are fairly easy to learn and can be mastered in the course of completing a campaign on the Easy difficulty setting. You move and give orders with the keyboard while using the mouse to look around and shoot whatever you see. There is also a decent training mode that will guide you through the controls and let you practice giving orders to your team.

Before each mission you have the opportunity to change your standard weapons configuration. Unfortunately, you can't customize each team member's equipment; just choose different preset configs. You can also examine intelligence documents that provide extra background for the mission. But who buys a game to read intel documents? Another side note: I never actually changed my weapons prior to a mission but it was nice to see the option existed.

All about multiplayer
It seems fairly obvious that Red Storm has found its niche. This game is not very long or deep on standard options. While the developer reiterates that the in game editor is not an officially supported part of the game, it is undoubtedly there for a reason. That reason is the online community.

I asked a few online players about their take on the game and the comments were pretty uniform. The consensus was that the single player version is a warm up to prepare newbies for the multiplayer arena. These gamers were playing online because that is what the game was mostly designed to accommodate. I tend to agree.

The single player mode is pretty easy for the average game player. I romped through on easy level in a lazy afternoon. I sense that most of you will do the same. The harder levels will improve your reactions and hone your skills. But the true test of your ability will come online.

Not my kind of game
To be honest, this is not my favorite genre of game. That makes it very difficult to gauge the quality of this product. All the things that one would reasonably expect from this type of game are here. The game is polished, as one might expect from a few generations of refinement. But ultimately, this game doesn't scream out for me to change my mind about the genre. There are definitely worse offerings in the marketplace this summer. Fans of Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon will probably enjoy this capable title as well. I'll cop out and give it a C+. If it sounds like your bag, baby, then check it out.

By Kevin Watson - 06/28/02
ESRB Details: Violence
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Screenshots for The Sum of all Fears

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