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This article concerns the first-person shooter. For the SNES and Genesis game Soldiers of Fortune, see The Chaos Engine.

Soldier of Fortune (also known as SoF) is a first-person shooter game created by Raven Software and published by Activision on March 27, 2000 for Microsoft Windows. It uses a modified Quake II engine. It was later released on the PlayStation 2 as well as the Dreamcast, while Loki Software also made a port for Linux. Two sequels were later made to the game as well.


The story involves the theft of nuclear weapons, and the main enemy turns out to be an Afrikaner Neo-Nazi group based in Germanymarker, led by Sergei Dekker. At the beginning of the game, terrorists steal four nuclear weapons from a storage facility in Russiamarker, and proceed to sell them to various third world 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.


  • New York Citymarker (NYC Subway, back alleys and warehouses): fighting a white power skinhead gang led by Dekker's brother Wilhelm "Saber" Dekker - missions Rescue and kill (1) and Sabre (6);
  • Sorotimarker, Uganda (cargo train): fighting Ugandan rebels - mission Nuke Retrieval (2);
  • Grańćanica, Kosovo (sewers, city ruins, former NATOmarker airfield): fighting Serb insurgents and Russian "peacekeepers" - mission Queen Bee (3);
  • Uyedineniya Islandmarker, Siberiamarker (canyon, military base and chemical plant): fighting Russian soldiers - mission Nest Egg (4);
  • Baghdadmarker, Basramarker,Iraqmarker (town, military bunker, military airfield & cargo airplane, fortress, oil refinery): fighting soldiers of Saddam Hussein and General Amu - missions Lightfoot (5) and White Rabbit (9);
  • Kordofan, Sudanmarker (train yard, slaughterhouse, missile factory): fighting Sudanese troops - mission Dragonfire (7);
  • Tokyomarker, Japanmarker (backstreets, corporate HQ, penthouse): fighting yakuza thugs and male & female ninja assassins - mission Jessica Six (8);
  • Hamburgmarker, Germanymarker (castle): fighting Sergei Dekker and his men - mission Endgame (10).


Soldier of Fortune was built around a modified version of the Quake II engine at the time of its release. 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 was later used in other Raven titles such as Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix and Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.


A controversial video game, 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 keeling 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 options to disable all gore and there is even a version of the game with the extreme violence permanently locked-out, called Soldier of Fortune: Tactical Low-Violence Version.


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.

Soldier of Fortune, however, does lack gameplay functions such as weapon inaccuracy and recoil, which were uncommon for games at that time.

Critical reaction was positive, with the 82.30% average rating based on 32 reviews of 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).

Violence controversy

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 Restricted. In Germany, the game was placed on the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons index.


Signs of Soldier of Fortune's success are still evident today with still many thousands of active players. To this date many stores still sell Soldier of Fortune, though it's usually found via online download stores.


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. 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.


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