By Kieron Gillen on October 21st, 2007 at 5:50 pm.
A little late with this, but we’ll post it as it reminds me of the time I interviewed Comics/Novel/Games/Whatever Writer and drinker of fine Whiskeys, Warren Ellis, and he idly tossed out the quote “No-one’s playing Soldier of Fortune for the story. They’re playing Soldier of Fortune so they can throw knives in people’s dicks”. Wise words.
A little commentary beneath the cut.
It’s Soldier of Fortune: Payback the sequel to Raven’s famous Mercenary-cum-Sadist simulator. It, clearly, doesn’t exactly look innovative or unique, except for a return to the multiple gore-zone dismemberment of lore. SoF2 sits in an interesting position in gaming history, as the high (or low, depending on your response to gore in shooters) water mark in terms of how much a developer modeled physical hurtage. Since then, the entire industry has openly bottled it – you can almost imagine them looking at SoF and thinking “You know – trouble will follow if we continue on this road”. In fact, you even had a sense Raven knew they were pushing their luck – while I never played pre-release code of SoF2, reports from friends who did describe it in even more brutal than the release version, with people being turned pretty much to paint on walls with the application of a grenade.
But now, after five years, we return. Now, you might argue that with Manhunt and Postal 2 and other “offensive” games we’ve gone further since. You’ll be wrong. Postal aimed to offend not by its technology, but by its setting and content. While the acts you perform in Manhunt are brutal, there’s a total disconnect between you ordering the action and it being performed. You’ve just set off a horrific cut-scene which you watch rather than participate in. What Soldier of Fortune does is simulate what happens when you takes bits of flesh away from people. In Manhunt, you tell them to drive the blade in. In Soldier of Fortune, you choose the spot and do it yourself. It’s horrible or horribly compelling, depending on your moral temperament. For me – a monster to the core – I’ve missed it a lot.
Already denied certification in Australia, the proper site’s in a vestigial state, so keep an eye on the fansites. Alternatively, go steal a Action Man/GI Joe, dismember it, cover it with Ketchup and cackle.