September 6, 2002
Soldier Of Fortune Gold - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
19/7/2002CodemastersPipe Dream1-4MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

Click To Enlarge Image
Plenty of enemies to dispatch.
The quality of the First Person Shooter on consoles has really taken off since the launch of the Playstation 2. Previous consoles haven't quite had the graphical grunt to provide a smooth enough experience for complete accuracy. Fortunately the Playstation 2 has had a strong run of FPS games including THQ's Red Faction, EA's Medal Of Honor Frontline and Sierra's Half-Life. Soldier Of Fortune Gold is a port of the classic PC game which was released over two years ago now, but received a lot of positive press. Being such an old game the Playstation 2 game should be a near perfect port, shouldn't it?

The story of Soldier Of Fortune sees you playing John Mullins. You are the best there is. The only thing colder than the steel in your hands is the ice that runs through your veins. You had three tours in Vietnam and got three Purple Hearts for your trouble. Now, you must use any means necessary to find and secure four stolen nuclear warheads. Track and stop the terrorist organization responsible for the theft before they can carry out their threat to national security. Failure means more than just going home in a bag, it could mean global thermonuclear holocaust.

Click To Enlarge Image
Possibly the most gory game yet.
One of the first things that strikes you about this game is the damage which you can inflict on the enemies, and the amounts of blood gushing out of the enemies. Thanks to the "Ghoul" engine it's possible to blow limbs off enemies, shoot them in the groin for a little bit of agony, or go strait for the head shot for the instant kill. In all the game includes 26 different zones on the bodies of enemies which can be affected by gunshots. For the first hour you'll be busy shooting people in different places to see what affect it has on them, and they are numerous from instant kills to making them hop around, to lying down in a foetal position and slowly bleeding to death. But after the first hour you will start looking for the game proper.

Soldier Of Fortune Gold's levels are a set both indoors and outdoors with a rather wide range of background settings from snowfields to military compounds. Sadly the enemies show some rather poor levels of AI. It's not uncommon to be sighted by one enemy from way off in the distant fogs, while the next moment you can almost walk straight up to another enemy without being noticed. Soldier Of Fortune Gold includes 10 missions which are split up into 26 smaller levels. These are all fairly lengthy and the game should have a completion time of around 20 hours. One of the more enjoyable aspects of this title is the way in which the game changes from some intense action packed moments with several enemies at once, while in other areas of the game getting out the sniper rifle to take out enemies from a distance is the more appropriate, and non-suicidal, option.

Click To Enlarge Image
Perhaps not too far off reality.
One of the main problems with Soldier Of Fortune is the feel of the game when in battle. Controlling John Mullins can be sluggish and unresponsive, especially when trying to turn around on the one spot or turning while running. Aiming at an enemy at distance is, as always, made difficult by the PS2's Dual Shock 2 controller, but is then compounded by a poor frame rate. Unfortunately even the inclusion of USB mouse and keyboard support, while welcome, doesn't improve the controls significantly. Another problem with the game is the load times, which, while not disastrous, should be a lot better this long after the consoles release. Another of the areas which disappoints is the 4-player split screen mode. With the game struggling to come up to scratch in the single player mode, splitting the screen into four only compounds the frame rate problems. You'll give up in frustration way too quickly.

Sadly, all is not well with the graphics either. The biggest problem is that the frame rate is way too low, often dropping below the standard 25fps, making accuracy almost impossible in fast moving situations. Keep in mind that most FPS's on Playstation 2 now run at 50fps, or a solid 25fps. Also disappointing are the bland textures and blocky character models used throughout the game. They rarely live up to the standards of other PS2 games and look quite a bit worse then the PC original. On a brighter note the cut scenes are adequate and the variety of enemies encountered is also solid enough. Still, overall, it's the graphics that really destroy this game. A solid frame rate would have resulted in a much better playability and overall score.

Click To Enlarge Image
Check out the blocky wheels.
One of the strengths of this game is the sound. While the music is atmospheric and the gunshots as explosive as you would expect it's the other sound effects that stand out. The enemies cry out in pain when shot, or call for help when they spot you approaching. Overall, this is a pretty neat package that sounds great on a good system. The only other improvement that could have been made would be surround sound, but given the other problems it wouldn't have been a priority.

Overall Soldier Of Fortune God is a major disappointment. The original PC game from two years ago is just so much more enjoyable. The biggest problem with this PS2 port is the horrendous control and frame rate. Sit it next to newer titles such as TimeSplitters 2 and Medal Of Honor Frontline and you could be forgiven for thinking that Soldier of Fortune Gold is running on inferior hardware. As a game there is certainly enough there with around 20 hours gameplay and the addition of USB keyboard and mouse support is great to see, but few people would be satisfied with purchasing this game.

GRAPHICSPoor textures, lack of detail but horrendous frame rate kills the mood.
SOUNDPlenty of gunfire backed up by good speech and adequate music.
GAMEPLAYBest with keyboard/mouse combo but the frame rate distracts.
VALUEFairly lengthy, PC version plays better, other PS2 FPS's also better.
OVERALLInclusion of USB mouse and keyboard is great, but the game suffers dramatically due to a poor frame rate, and as a result, accuracy. Codemasters reprogrammed the graphics engine from the US game, but it's among the worst seen. Unless you're a die hard FPS fan then I would suggest you look at the much better, and cheaper, PC version.

Talk about Soldier of Fortune Gold in this forum topic now.