Best Shooter Ever - Soldier of Fortune
Buy the Game here
The game that had to be rated as a Restricted-rated Film in Germany (who also put it on the "Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons" list.) British Columbia also needed a fainting couch for this one since Soldier of Fortune scared people there too. One of the originators of the semi-realistic rampage shooters with blood, gore violence; bringing it to the new era of 3D graphics and next-gen gaming. However, it is only the start of what makes Soldier of Fortune the best shooter ever created since there is also the fast-paced, cinematic and gritty action gameplay that takes the player worldwide to stop terrorism to engage in.
Developed by Raven Software (Heretic/Hexen, Quake 4) and published by Activision, the game released in the year 2000; arguably the best year for PC gaming since other generation-defining titles such as Deus Ex, Mechwarrior 4 and Diablo 2 (to name a few) were also out. Soldier of Fortune took the run-and-gun, circle-strafing gameplay with big, loud guns of Quake 2 (released late 1997) and took it to a world that was our own - blasting through subways in NYC, marketplaces in the Middle East, skyscrapers in Japan, slaughterhouse in Sudan and ruins of Kosovo. The varied enemies looked and behaved like real people - a terrorist would act differently from a member of a supremacist street gang; indirectly hinting that real-world settings in games should be used more since they bring in variety when done as so.
As soon as you start the installation, Soldier of Fortune not only shows a lengthy warning of the realistic blood and gore violence within but also introduces our protagonist — John Mullins, (also the game's military consultant/a REAL person) a special forces veteran who completed missions during the Vietnam war as a member of the Phoenix Group, showing war photos of his experiences while you wait. The game establishes a serious tone almost like a historical documentary by demonstrating that the impending experience could happen in real life. This made me fall head over heels for the game since I never liked fantasy settings, to begin with as they are mostly a cliche bingo; seen one, seen them all.
John Mullins Interview
The first level could not have been better, it starts with John Mullins stepping in to assist the police in containing a hostage situation in a grimy, rusted out and vandalized subway - why is that special? Well, a subway is something we always navigate and see in our daily lives and when a threat surfaces, most of us would want to do our part and help in stopping it. This is also why the recently released Modern Warfare London level was awesome (if very short) where it was up to you and your handgun to fight back against terrorist invaders. After all, good games are meant to be experiences and tests of your cognitive skills. Soldier of Fortune fits that bill.
Modern Warfare London level
My Russian retail copy of the game advertised (truthfully at that) "intense shootouts like in action movies;" hence, triggering images of moving fast, decimating bad guys whose body count racks up to populations of small cities, automatic weapons that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would fight over and do-or-die situations. Invoking the likes of Rambo, Universal Soldier, and Invasion USA.
The best first step a shooter can take is to give you enough guns and lots of threatening enemies to use them on and in the world of Soldier of Fortune, you have deadly enemies that would call reinforcements, shoot with deadly accuracy and retreat if need be. The arsenal here is their most terrifying nightmare; starting from a humble 9mm pistol to a squad automatic weapon with an under-barrel grenade launcher to a flamethrower.
The intimidating and deadly enemies, however, can be disarmed with a well-placed hand shot with the 9mm handgun whereas a larger caliber gun would remove said hand; causing a once-threatening, muscular enemy to cry in agony to later faint at the sight of his stub. Point being, player feedback is on steroids here - before glory kills in Doom 2016, there were location-based damage and gore zones in Soldier of Fortune. Reason 2 as to why Soldier of Fortune is one of the greatest shooters ever developed - revolutionizing gore and player feedback in shooters.
Finally, since the game is also meant to be a military shooter with attempts at realism, a stealth system is present with suppressed weapons and feedback on how loud the player is being - some levels can be done using stealth while at the highest difficulties, the louder you are, the more party crashers arrive to waste the player. While it isn't Rainbow Six or Splinter Cell, it is a novel idea within what is a run-and-gun shooter.
© 2019 Jake Clawson