Go back to Soldier of Fortune

Written by: Rik

Date posted: February 13, 2010

So, in Soldier of Fortune you ARE John Mullins, real-life ex-something or other with many years’ experience of going to foreign countries and shooting people in the face for money. In the game at least, John is part of a group of mercenaries collectively known as ‘The Shop’ – to whom, we are told, the world’s governments turn when a situation is deemed too dangerous for their own armed forces to tackle.

We don’t really find out that much more about ‘The Shop’, but from what we see in the game, their base of operations appears to be the back room of a second-hand booksellers, with the roster of mercenaries consisting of Mullins, his partner “Hawk” and the bloke who owns the place.

The main criteria for membership seems to be the ability to take yourself extremely seriously, and the game’s dialogue is notable for the complete absence of any sort of levity. By and large, conversations consist of a series of growly exchanges during which the essential details of each mission are discussed. Here’s a typical example:

[Start of mission]
John: Hawk, we need to get that hangar door open.
Hawk: I’m on it, John.

[Ten minutes later]
Hawk: John, I’ve opened the hangar door.
John: Got it, Hawk.

And so on. So preoccupied are they with their own self-importance that at no stage does Mullins think to mention to Hawk that an outfit featuring dark sunglasses and a muscle-vest might not be the most sensible attire for a potentially life-threatening mission. Similarly, Hawk never points out that the (admittedly more sensible) helmet that Mullins wears throughout makes him look like a crackpot gun-nut, or that when he runs he resembles a middle-aged woman going jogging for the first time after an over-indulgent Christmas.

By contrast the main villain of the piece, Dekker, displays the kind of ridiculously over-the-top campness that you’d want and expect. As he prances around in his curious all-over bodysuit, cackling and making threats, you kind of find yourself warming to him after you’ve endured a few hours of po-faced drudgery from our supposed heroes.

So what if he has an evil plan involving stolen nuclear warheads and seems to enjoy shooting the odd hostage now and again? At least you might be able to have a bit of a laugh with him, whereas an evening at ‘The Shop’ with Mullins and “Hawk” would probably be the longest few hours of your life:

Hawk: I’d like a drink, John.
John: I’ll go get you one.

[Minutes pass…]

John: Here’s your drink, Hawk.
Hawk: Thanks, John.

[Hours pass…]

John: Sometimes, at night, I wake up to the sound of screams echoing in my head…
Hawk: [Drawing gun] You some kind of communist, Mullins?