Review by Millers C

"The Red Mile"

How can anyone even begin to talk about a game that can only be described as a drab, disappointing and deflating experience? The proud boast on the back of the case gives the biggest clue what the “Wow” factor with Soldier of Fortune is, for those unaware; The unique ghoul rendering system enables you to literally blow bodies apart! SOF Is certainly one of the most visceral experiences on PS2. Shoot someone in the gut? Gut falls out. The head? Brains fly out the back etc. Being the most violent game in history is not a huge accolade, yet people still continued to buy it. Yawn. It was unique and exciting 2-3 years ago, but now its extremely dated.

In fact SOF looks dated throughout, from the poor level design through to the grainy visuals. Character modes look as though there was a fair amount of time spent on them, and look the part, even though it is usually the same generic character model throughout the levels. The design of the enemy cannon fodder is paramount to its success, as SOF cashes in on the gore factor. But it seems to me that they had a lax attitude towards level design. The levels are quite small in comparison to other games such as Half-Life, which isn’t much of a relief. Levels are diverse, and include a train, subway station and a high rise building, yet it’s the same basic find key and proceed gameplay style that was introduced by Wolfenstein 3D over a decade ago. Perhaps it would have been better to have cinematic sequences spliced with action to provide some relief – and rest! I’m not joking either. The game runs at a frightening pace, with your character turning ridiculously fast around corners and I was left dizzy and nauseas after a few hours play.

I find it a little sanctimonious that John Mullins, beyond being a solider of fortune is just an archetypical 2D action hero, rather than the cold-blooded Leon like professional that the title implies. Why can’t Mullins be called in to assassinate people who would be considered “Good”? A businessman who owes money to the mob? Blowing away a peasant village in the Sudan? Mullins is called in to kill terrorists, fanatics and general lowlife scum. This is a problem that I felt hindered Hitman 2, and its just a shame you don’t really play it bad as in GTA: Vice City and The Getaway and to a lesser extent Metal Gear Solid.

There are extensive faults within this game that means a purchase cannot be sanctioned, so I’ll be brief in the culmination of this review. The controls are iffy and take a while to get use to. You are given a dot to aim with when surely a moveable crosshair would have been more effective, and for some reason you are unable to restart a mission once you are killed. You need to save your game and then restart from that point. Why, oh why do that? Being able to replay certain levels is integral to the lifespan of a game. Why bother coming back for more if it’s simply impossible? It may be nice to play through the whole game again, but surely a select level function would have been much better.

There are some positives, though. There are a fair amount of levels to get through, and the Ghoul rendering gimmick, although the shine falls off it eventually, is quite fun to look at and exploit. It was going to be difficult to construct a decent game out of a template that is just a small gimmick. Mullins has a busy passport, travelling from South Africa, to USA, to Uganda, To Bosnia and Japan. There are some diverse locations on offer, so it is nice to play through the game at least once if you manage to persevere and ignore the faults. Quite frankly though, it’s a real arse, and sometimes downright difficult to play, with the control system being vey unforgiving unless your double jointed, and the way Mullins moves – its just too darn fast and nauseating! Unfortunately in my opinion, these hindered the game greatly, and result in a big “Stay Away” sticker being placed on the front cover. If you’re still wooed by the blood and gore, then rent it and you’ll see how poor it can be. If perseverance is your thing, and you felt Rainbow Six on PSX was a good game, then you may just enjoy this. But for the rest of us – Stay well clear!

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 03/21/03, Updated 03/21/03

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