Raven Software is an American company that develops computer games. She started her career with fantasy games and did it so well that the guys from the legendary id Software (Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein) paid attention to the company. This led to the start of a wonderful collaboration.
Heretic was developed by Raven on the Doom engine in 1994, and sequels later appeared: Hexen, Hexen 2 and Heretic 2 . In 1997, Raven was sold to Activision , who granted the studio the rights to the popular Soldier of Fortune magazine . Beginning in 1975, it published stories about mercenary culture. He also talked about the various conflicts taking place around the globe. Based on the life of mercenaries, it was decided to create a game.
During development, Raven was joined by John Mullins , a combat veteran. For the studio, he became an adviser in everything related to military affairs. He talked about the feeling on the battlefield, the reaction of opponents and much more. He even drove developers to military facilities. His name and appearance went to the protagonist of the game Soldier of Fortune, which was released in 2000.
That’s just the game had nothing to do with the simulator of military operations. It turned out to be an action movie in which John Mullins is confronted by caricatured bandits, ninjas, hardy men with rocket launchers and flamethrowers, combat helicopters, etc. During the campaign, his weapons change from conventional to futuristic.
Missions begin with a choice of weapons. After that, John unleashes the full power of democracy on the hordes of enemies. They fire at him from above, from shelters, fly out of the toilets, jump off the roofs. They do not differ in intelligence and tactics, but they can quite suppress with fire.
Interest in the game is supported by a constant change of locations. The terrorist group that John confronts has swept the whole world with its tentacles. He has to chase terrorists in the subway, on the roof of the train, among the streets of Tokyo, in snowy Siberia. He storms military bases and secret laboratories. And all in order to prevent the detonation of four nuclear charges stolen from Russia.
The distinguishing feature of the game is the GHOUL system . She allowed to shoot the enemies of the arms-legs-heads. The bullets made them writhe in pain and bleed. True, at one time it attracted fans to fight cruelty in video games: politicians and worried parents. To avoid further problems, Raven released a friendlier version of the game, Soldier of Fortune: Tactical Low-Violence Version. But even without the ability to dismember enemies, the game remained an excellent shooter with cool weapons.
A sequel was released in 2002 – Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix . At the beginning, he can scare off clumsy levels with stealth, where you need to silently neutralize enemies with a knife or hitting the butt on the back of the head. The situation is aggravated by a large number of enemies, their vigilance and good hearing. And on one level, raising the alarm generally leads to a loss. Pass again!
But the shooting became more interesting. Choosing a weapon before the mission, John will get into a variety of troubles. He destroys the trucks, then makes his way through the jungle in the company of American soldiers, and they retreat in a helicopter, firing at the terrorists from the air. As in the previous part, the locations are constantly changing, and each of them is interesting in its own way.
The terrorists themselves have become angrier and smarter. They flip tables to use as cover. They love to shoot around corners and throw grenades. But even without this, the game is full of dangers. You have to carefully look under your feet so as not to step on the stretch.
This forces you to play carefully. You need to use shelters, throw grenades into suspicious rooms. John can’t die because he can’t let the terrorists use the bioweapon!
The GHOUL system has also undergone a change. Now you can only shoot off limbs with powerful weapons, like a shotgun. But writhing in pain and bleeding enemies have become even more realistic.
In the second part, the sound and music are especially good. Separately, it is worth highlighting two tracks: Hongkong Slow and Hongkong Fast . Be sure to listen.
The development of the third part of Activision entrusted the Slovak studio Cauldron. In 2007, they squeezed Soldier of Fortune: Payback out of themselves. From previous mechanics, the ability to dismember enemies remained. Otherwise, this is a dull copy of Call of Duty .
Armor and health were cut out, the gameplay was simplified. Opponents rush back and forth like headless chickens. In some places they respawn endlessly. Bosses are normal enemies that soak up tons of lead.
Levels are linear. Assignments are idiotic. Hunt Down The Freeman story and dialogue – it would be better if they didn’t exist at all! We don’t even play John Mullins! Instead, Dekker Mason, a character without character, becomes the protagonist.
The sound works partially: you hear your own shots, but not enemy shots. The voice of the bosses can be heard at any distance.
The only thing that is done well in the game is the shotgun. It is pleasant to use it in all parts, and the third was no exception.
The first two parts of Soldier of Fortune were solid fighters and excellent shooters. They allowed the player to destroy crowds of opponents with cool weapons and enjoy every kill. And at the same time, they were complex, forced to turn on the head in battle. The third part is so bad that it ruined the reputation of the entire series.
It is unfortunate that the story of Soldier of Fortune ended on such a note. Soldier of Fortune Online was released in 2010 exclusively for South Korea. She did not live long. No continuation is expected. Raven is too busy on the Call of Duty pipeline, and Activision is unlikely to resurrect the series out of the goodness of their hearts.
But this does not mean that you should just forget about Soldier of Fortune. If you haven’t played it, be sure to try this brutal shooter from 20 years ago. They don’t do that anymore and, alas, they won’t. No one.