Soldier of Fortune (video game)

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Soldier of Fortune
The game's cover art
Cover art
Developer(s)Raven Software
Director(s)Brian Raffel
Producer(s)Marty Stratton
Designer(s)Jim Hughes
Programmer(s)Rick Johnson
Artist(s)Joe Koberstein
Scott Rice
Composer(s)Chia Chin Lee
Engineid Tech 2
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, Linux, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows
  • NA: February 29, 2000
  • EU: March 28, 2000
  • NA: July 24, 2001
  • EU: July 24, 2001
PlayStation 2
  • NA: November 11, 2001
  • EU: July 5, 2002
Genre(s)First-person shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Soldier of Fortune is a first-person shooter (FPS) video game created by Raven Software and published by Activision on February 29, 2000, for Microsoft Windows. It was later released for the PlayStation 2, as well as the Dreamcast, while Loki Software also made a port for Linux, it was digitally re-released on on October 2, 2018, along with its two successors.[1] The player takes on the role of a U.S. mercenary as he trots around the globe hoping to halt a terrorist nuclear weapons plot.

The game was notable for its realistic depictions of violence, made possible by the GHOUL engine, including the dismemberment of human bodies; this was the game's stylistic attraction and it caused considerable controversy, especially in British Columbia and Germany, where it was classified as a "pornographic film" and listed on the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons, respectively. The technology creates 26 different zones on the bodies of enemies, allowing for vastly different reactions depending upon which one is targeted. Nonviolence is also possible, if the player can aim well enough to disarm enemies.

The game was designed to be realistic, but many more modern military shooters, like Call of Duty, offer more realistic gameplay; the game plays more along the lines of the Quake II engine, id Tech 2, that it was based on. During development, it had been planned that the game would take place partially in Bosnia, that real weapons would be used almost exclusively, and that taking damage would affect the player's movement and dexterity.

The game sold well initially and critical reception was positive. Two sequels were later made for the game: SOF2: Double Helix (2002) and Payback (2007). An MMOFPS entitled Soldier of Fortune Online was published in Korea in 2010.


The story involves the theft of nuclear weapons, and the main enemy turns out to be an Afrikaner neo-fascist group based in Germany, led by South African exile 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 nations; this is a prelude to the acquisition of advanced weapons of mass destruction by this terrorist group. John Mullins, working for a U.S.-based mercenary ("soldier of fortune") 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. His missions take him to New York City, Sudan, Siberia, Tokyo, Kosovo, Iraq, Uganda and finally Germany.


Exploding an enemy's head using the GHOUL engine

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 victims to clutch their groin in agony for a few seconds before kneeling over dead, it is possible to shoot off an enemy's limbs (head, arms, legs) leaving nothing left but a bloody torso. In the last mission there is also a fictional microwave weapon, causing the enemies to fry or explode, depending on the firing mode. However, nonviolence is 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 also came with password-protected options to disable all gore and there is even a version of the game with the extreme violence permanently locked-out, titled Soldier of Fortune: Tactical Low-Violence Version.[2]


In multiplayer mode, there are seven gametypes: Arsenal, Assassination, Capture the Flag, Conquer the Bunker, Control, Deathmatch and Realistic Deathmatch.[3][4]


Raven Software acquired a license from the mercenary magazine Soldier of Fortune to produce a video game based on the publication;[5] the game was built around a modified version of the Quake II game engine.[6] 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 were later used in other Raven titles, such as Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix and Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.

The game was originally supposed to be much more realistic, featuring mostly real weapons, and the players taking damage would impede their movement and dexterity, depending on where and how many times they were hit. In 1998 (prior to the Kosovo War) the game was also supposed to be partially based in Bosnia instead of Kosovo.[7]

The game is AMD Eyefinity validated.[8]


According to PC Data, a firm that tracked sales in the United States, Soldier of Fortune sold 100,919 units by November 2000.[9]

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.[citation needed]

Critical reaction was positive, with the GameRankings averaged rating of 82.30% for the PC version. However, the Dreamcast version's reception was less enthusiastic, with the 71.06% average rating (reviewers criticized the loading times, which were both frequent and extremely lengthy).[10]

Violence controversy[edit]

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 as a pornographic film. In Germany, the game was placed on the Index List of the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons.[11][12][13][14]


Soldier of Fortune is regarded by many as a classic of the first-person shooter genre.[citation needed]

Soldier of Fortune was released on CD. re-released this game alongside its two successors digitally on October 1, 2018.[15]


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.[citation needed] Initially released for Windows, the sequel was later ported to the Xbox.

A third game in the series, Soldier of Fortune: Payback was made by Cauldron HQ and released on November 14, 2007.

An MMOFPS based on the series, Soldier of Fortune Online was published in Korea by Dragonfly and went in Closed Beta on August 12, 2010 and ended on August 16, 2010.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Soldier of Fortune: Platinum Edition -
  2. ^ Soldier of Fortune: Tactical Low-Violence Version Archived March 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (MobyGames)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 7, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Salmon, Mike (June 1999). "Soldier of Fortune". PC Accelerator (10): 57–60.
  6. ^ Blevins, Tal (April 3, 2000). "Soldier of Fortune". IGN PC. IGN. Archived from the original on March 17, 2007.
  7. ^ PCGames Vol.5 issue 8 (October 1998) p.36
  8. ^ "AMD Eyefinity Validated and Ready Software". Archived from the original on July 4, 2014.
  9. ^ Staff (November 2000). "Where Have All the Legends Gone?; By the Numbers". PC Gamer US. 7 (11): 42, 43.
  10. ^ Soldier of Fortune PC Archived June 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (GameRankings)
  11. ^ McCausland, Mary-Louise (July 11, 2000). "B.C. Film Classification Soldier of Fortune Decision". The Free Radical. Archived from the original on January 11, 2009.
  12. ^ Lunman, Kim (July 12, 2000). "B.C. Labels 'Brutal' Video Game as Adult Film". The Globe and Mail. p. A1. Archived from the original on January 11, 2009.
  13. ^ Lunman, Kim (August 12, 2000). "Company to Appeal Game's X-Rating". The Globe and Mail. p. A3. Archived from the original on January 12, 2009.
  14. ^ "Soldier of Gore: Excessively Violent Video Game restricted by B.C. Film Commissioner". The Globe and Mail. June 12, 2000. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007.
  15. ^ "Soldier of Fortune: Platinum Edition on". Retrieved October 1, 2018.

External links[edit]