During the 90s and early 2000s, few other pastimes were scrutinized more for their violence than video games. Spurred on by the bloody excesses of titles like Mortal Kombat and Doom, a generation of lawmakers, politicians, and parents took it upon themselves during this period to highlight the medium’s seeming depravity, and try to hide it from developing minds. To them, the thematic content that the video game industry explored was bad enough on its own – but its willingness to sell this subject matter to children warranted immediate action.
Soldier of Fortune was one such series that came under this scrutiny. Developed by Raven Software in collaboration with the mercenary magazine of the same name, Soldier of Fortune garnered controversy around the globe for its intense level of gore, which at the time offered one of the more graphic depictions of bodily dismemberment ever seen in any first-person shooter series – a product of Raven’s custom-made GHOUL modeling system.
Yet underneath the goriness of its modeling system, it also provided those that actually tried it with a polished gameplay experience; one that kept its player base thoroughly entertained well after the initial shock of seeing enemies blown to pieces wore off. It wasn’t utterly revolutionary in the way that contemporary shooters like Half-Life or Halo were, but it showed Raven to be more than capable of balancing both style and substance – and left its fans appropriately distraught when faded into nothingness.
This is the rise and fall of Soldier of Fortune.