soldier of fortune

Soldier of Fortune (video game)

This article concerns the first-person shooter. For the SNES and Genesis game Soldiers of Fortune, see The Chaos Engine.

Soldier of Fortune (also known as SoF) is a first-person shooter game created by Raven Software and published by Activision on March 27 2000 for Microsoft Windows. It uses a modified Quake II engine. It was later released on the Sony PlayStation 2 as well as the Sega Dreamcast. Loki Software also made a port for Linux. Based on its success, Raven Software and Activision later published Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix in 2002 based on the Quake III: Team Arena engine. Initially released for Windows, the sequel was later ported to the Xbox. A third game in the series, Soldier of Fortune: Payback was released on November 14 2007.


The story involves the theft of nuclear weapons, and the main enemy turns out to be an Afrikaner Neo-Nazi group based in Germany, led by Sergei Dekker. At the beginning of the game, terrorists steal four nuclear weapons from a storage facility in Russia, and proceed to sell them to various third world nations. This is a prelude to the acquisition of advanced weapons of mass destruction by this terrorist group.

John Mullins, working as a Soldier of Fortune for a US-based mercenary organization known only as "The Shop", and his partner, Aaron "Hawk" Parsons, are assigned to prevent the nukes from falling into the wrong hands, and stop the terrorists in their plans.


Soldier of Fortune was built around a modified version of the Quake II engine at the time of its release. It was the first game to utilize the GHOUL damage model engine developed by Raven software. This introduced the ability to dismember enemies in combat, adding to the realism of the game. Upgraded versions of the GHOUL system was later used in other Raven titles such as Soldier of Fortune II and Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.


A controversial video game, Soldier of Fortune was best known for its graphic depictions of firearms dismembering the human body. This graphic violence is the game's main stylistic attraction, much like the destructible environments of Red Faction or bullet-time of Max Payne. The GHOUL engine enables depiction of extreme graphic violence, in which character models are based on body parts that can each independently sustain damage (gore zones). There are 26 zones in total. A shot to the head with a powerful gun will often make the target's head explode, leaving nothing but the bloody stump of the neck remaining; a close-range shot to the stomach with a shotgun will leave an enemy's bowels in a bloody mess, and a shot to the nether regions will cause the victim to clutch his groin in agony for a few seconds before keeling over dead. It is possible to shoot off an enemy's limbs (head, arms, legs) leaving nothing left but a bloody torso. Non-violence is also a possibility, if the player is a good shot it is possible to shoot an enemy's weapon out of their hand, causing them to cower on the floor to surrender. The game came with options to disable all gore, however.


Soldier of Fortune was praised as being a solid and entertaining shooter, with one of the game's greatest praises being its graphic depiction of gore and violence, which both proponents and detractors consider to be more realistic than most first-person shooter games. Critical reaction was mixed at best. It received a 7.7 out of 10 in its review by Gamespot, and scored 7 and above in areas such as graphics and sound.

Critics point out the game's total lack of realistic combat (especially in the easier modes), lack of innovative depth to gameplay, as well the lack of tactical influences. Soldier of Fortune does lack gameplay functions such as weapon inaccuracy and recoil, which were uncommon for games at that time.


In 2000, after receiving a complaint from a member of the public about the explicit content of the game, the British Columbia Film Classification Office investigated and decided the violence, gore and acts of torture were not suitable for persons under 18 years of age. In a controversial decision, the game was labeled an "adult motion picture" and was rated Restricted. In Germany, the game was placed on the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons index.


Signs of Soldier of Fortune's success are still evident today with still many thousands of active players. In addition, in July 2007 UK game server provider Homenetwork UK started to sell servers for the original game under its "Retro Gaming" service. To this date many stores still sell Soldier of Fortune, though it's usually found via online download stores.

In June 2007, the third entry of the Soldier of Fortune series was announced, Soldier of Fortune: Payback, and was released on 20 November 2007. The game was developed by Cauldron and published by Activision Value. Raven Software wasn't involved in its production.


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