Solider of Fortune review

Here it is; the Sega Dreamcast version of the 1999 violent and politically incorrect Windows PC game. This long-awaited first person shooter finally hits home with a bump and a shot to the head.

You are placed into the shoes of one of the world best mercenaries in the UN branch, John Mullins and you are battling various deadly missions against a terrorist organization, with an unfolding story as you approach each level. Armed with an arsenal of weapons, each one capable of much carnage, John’s missions reach around the globe to areas such as Japan and Iran, rescuing hostages and dis-arming nuclear warheads on fast moving trains. Placed into battles with skin-headed thugs and Mercenaries such as yourself, its a gun-feast to the end. A one man against an army.

The game takes its title and ideas from the popular war magazine of the same name. As soon as play starts, you can tell what games influenced the programmers — such as Half-Life, the Dreamcast version of which is stuck in development hell.

The game is tightly designed as a full-on-shooter with no puzzles to solve and lays the baddies on thick and fast. No “find a specific guy to open that door”, thank goodness.

You can shot enemies anywhere on the body and the person will react to it. Shoot a man in the leg and they hop around in pain before you finish them off. Shoot them in the “down-below” regions and well… you can guess the rest. Whilst the reactions are welcomed, it can almost become comical at times, when four skin-heads are bouncing around to the same animation and same FX.

Soldier-of-Fortune-Sega-Dreamcast-01

This brings me to the graphics: for a Dreamcast game they are very good to excellent, (you can see this in the train level as you admire the passing scenery) but you cannot help but think that they could have poured more Dreamcast magic into the pot. Whereas the sound FX are spot-on, with a fitting soundtrack.

The AI is very good indeed. The enemy hide behind objects and takes pot-shots at you, and if you’re making too much noise, come running to find you too. In the heat of a battle. If you’re wondering who is hitting you with a machine gun, look to the distance to see a head popping over a crate, which adds some needed realism to the game.

Sadly and rather annoying, is there is no online play as in the PC game. This upset many Unreal Tournament Dreamcast players and the same goes for me. Unreal Tournament, as good as it was, just did not help itself losing the online multi-player (since the game was designed for online gaming) and Fortune’s major fault is this too. This is a shame, as the potential for such a game like this online would be massive and it seems stupid to lose it between platforms.

Another criticism lies in the loading times. Way too often is there a long to wait for the game to start and load another movie segment in. You have time to get yourself a brew (or beer) while waiting.

The main selling point of the Dreamcast version then, has to be its violence. Its very heavy on it and kids must be crying out for it as its bloody for the start. Limbs fly off at an amazing rate and you cannot help but wonder if this is going to get worse. It does, with the second level starting with a bloke getting his head blown off in the beginning scene!

In view of it all, I really enjoyed my days playing this title. Whilst it does not offer a mind-blowing experience, its a must have and great for a gaming night with a few beers.

Now where’s my gun?