- Xbox Live Marketplace Update: May 21st, 2013
- Metro: Last Light Gets 4 DLC Packs Planned, Season Pass Available
- Ryse Confirmed as Xbox One Exclusive
- Battlefield 4 Will Be Available this Holiday for Next-Gen
- Call of Duty: Ghosts Xbox One Media
- Forza Motorsport 5 Xbox One Screens & Trailer
- Xbox One Specs
- Mornin '13
- No Backwards Compatibility with Xbox One
- Xbox One Does NOT Have to Always Be Online
- Call of Duty: Ghosts Shown On Xbox One, Timed-Exclusive DLC
- Halo TV Series Announced
- Watch Live TV with Xbox One [Updated]
- Microsoft Announces Its Next Console: Xbox One
- REVIEW: Metro: Last Light
- Peter Molyneux's Godus Going Mobile
Soldner: Secret Wars Review
publisher: Encore Software
developer: Wing Simulations
PIV 1400, 256MB RAM, 32MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jun 22, 04 (released)
|» All About Soldner: Secret Wars on ActionTrip|
Gaming trends are an interesting thing to follow. Looking back over the past fifteen years it is interesting to see how milestones have been set by certain titles and how the gaming market has shifted (or slithered) in order to jump on the genre popularity bandwagon. Think back to when the original Doom was released and shortly thereafter the market was thick with first person shooters (ironically, most were produced with the Doom engine). WarCraft and Command & Conquer (not going to argue which was first this time around) spawned a whole horde of forgettable 'me too' RTS titles. And as a final point, my favorite example: Quake. When the boys from id upped the first person shooter ante with hot 3D graphics, intense multiplayer action and a pulse-pounding soundtrack, within a few months of its release, dozens of FPS titles were announced that were billed as moody, intense and of course, all the titles had single syllable names. In the end, only half ever made it to store shelves and from that group maybe 10% were worth playing. Good times, good times.
Zis is not right! I look like a Nazi!
OK, I need to run across this field to my freedom!
In recent years however, these gaming milestones have gotten fewer and farther between, but the process of bandwagon titles has increased. Counter Strike was the breakout FPS title that ushered in a new age of online gaming for the masses. Joe Gamer became aware that his AOL internet connection was good for something other than downloading porn. (Wait, is it?! - Ed) Developers smelled money like a fart in a small car on a long cross-country road trip and thus here we are today. Wedged between the dozens of MMORPG titles and Sims expansions you will find a large number of team based FPS shooters in a wide variety of flavors: The Rainbow Six series, Call of Duty, and of course, the Battlefield series to name a few.
Developed by Wings Simulations and JoWooD and published by Encore, Soldner is the latest entry in the team based FPS fold and is bound to have many parallels drawn between it and Battlefield because they are the most similar in base game play and design. The game was staggering in its scope when it was announced, boasting over 70 unique vehicles (land and air), and more than 60 modern day weapons in a wide variety of configurations. The game features a series of randomly generated, non-linear missions for single play where you take the role of a solider for hire. A mercenary (or as the Germans say, 'Soldner', pronounced as though the S were a Z) who gets weapons, money or vehicles in exchange for successful completion of mission objectives. Multiplayer really needs no background story as Soldner has the usual selection of multiplayer games (Death match, Team Death match, Capture the Flag, Hostage Rescue and Bomb Run). Multiplayer supports up to 32 players via LAN and on the internet supports 16 or 32 depending on the speed of your connection.
Graphically the game looks good for the most part. Characters are modeled well and you can customize the look of your mercenary down to his sunglasses for your own unique look. Nothing is more embarrassing than showing up on the battlefield and finding out that some other mercenary has on the exact same outfit so it's important to accessorize! When you purchase a weapon like a rifle or a rocket launcher, they are slung across your back until you ready them for combat. Most of the time you will not see the weapons up close as you will either be in 3rd person view as you move around, inside a vehicle or looking through a scope, so the only time you will see the weapons and equipment is in profile as you browse through them at the equipment stations. Out in the field, you generally are too busy either dying or running away to pay close attention to what your opponents are shooting you with.
Vehicles are a mixed bag. Some look very much like their real world counterparts and are detailed, but some (like the tractor) look very boxy and not very detailed at all. The helicopters however all look very good. One of the pluses the game engine offers is the ability to destroy buildings, knock over trees and blow divots out of the ground to hinder advancing tanks.
Sound is average. Soldner includes the typical pops and barks you would expect from modern weaponry. Tank and rocket launchers boom as their shells impact on targets, but again, this is par for the course in a game with mechanized infantry. Ground vehicles all sound much the same and only really differ if they have treads, and if so you will hear additional creaks and clanks as the treads tear up the terrain. The game will also give you verbal warnings when your base perimeter has been breeched by an enemy and therefore puts your base at risk, which is nice if your team is not doing their part for defense. What annoys me most about the sound is every time you enter the main menu or respawn the game announces in a deep and authoritative voice "SOLDNER!" While the first time it made me realize I'm an idiot and did not pronounce the name of the game correctly, after the 90th time I heard it, I wanted to format my hard drive to make it stop. I have not found any way to disable this 'feature'.
Game play itself is unfortunately where Soldner suffers most. While the game mechanics are similar to other titles like the Tribes or Battlefield series; join a server, select a team, spawn onto a map, equip your mercenary and head out to kick butt, the experience is not the same. Control feels sluggish. There are noticeable delays when accessing an equipment station or boarding a vehicle (sometimes I had to hit the 'use' key several times in order for it to execute the action). Vehicle control swings back and forth between being slow to respond to far too sensitive, this is due in part to a physic model that could stand some more tweaking. While driving into a tree can knock it over if it is hit hard enough, it is all too common to rebound off the trunk and find your vehicle nearly rolled onto its side. Simply driving at full speed and turning too sharply can result in flipping you over, even in a hulking tank
While the game offers a large number of weapons and vehicles, often you have to ask yourself, 'why?' Why do I need 18 different assault rifles? Sure, one may cost more than another, but I really could not tell much of a difference between the AK-47 and the AK-74 in the field. I can understand the desire to give people a wide variety of weaponry to choose from, but unless there is a discernable difference between one assault rifle to another, it all appears to be so much window dressing. If the difference is only discernable on paper or by the way it looks in the purchase window, and not when you wield either weapon in game, the feature of a large number of weapons to choose from looses its appeal.
Characters are well animated and customizable, a wide variety of real world weapons and vehicles, random single mission generator;
Clunky controls, long load/unload times, goofy in game physics, low player population on servers online, single player missions are uninteresting.