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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: July 8, 2002
With the exception of the Serious Sam franchise, the battle over supremacy in the popular and sophisticated first-person shooter arena has largely occurred between id’s Quake engine and Epic’s Unreal engine. The specter of the upcoming releases of Unreal 2 and Doom 3 can be pretty daunting; and because of the high technology requirements in this most demanding of genres, the barriers to entry are considerable for new competitors. Now a new small company, 4D Rulers Software, has attempted to enter the fray through the release of Gore: Ultimate Soldier. As the culmination of more than five years in development by a small independent developer, can this product rock those of the established big boys?
The story in Gore is rather trite, and it is so irrelevant to the action that there is not a mention of it in the game manual. In the middle of the 21st century, Earth’s society has degenerated, and a crime ring composed of street gangs — collectively known as the MOB — have gained control of cities. Civil unrest and violence spread everywhere. So the remains of all of the national governments band together to fight against the forces of chaos. The resulting military police force (the UMC) then develops an advanced combat training simulator, called the Meat Machine, to help its soldiers win the battle. You begin in the simulator, as a UMC soldier training to fight the MOB.
Gore‘s locales are pretty standard and remind you of those you have seen before in other titles on the virtual screen. Among the interesting settings are an ancient temple, imposing castle, MOB mansion, production refinery, space station, drab warehouse, and Wild West town. The links among the various settings, connecting your transition from one to another, are not very well integrated. Nonetheless, each setting is laid out quite intricately and intelligently, and poses different kinds of challenge, albeit without the brilliant design present in Quake or Unreal.
You face a mix of human and non-human foes in Gore. Once again, each fits a familiar stereotype, such as a fat beer-drinking redneck and an always-angry, stylishly-made female thug. Outside of the bosses, the scariest adversaries for me are the skeletons who wield lethal chainsaws against you; the skeletons you encounter in Serious Sam move like molasses and barely hurt you compared to those more vicious ones in Gore. Some of the punks are a bit laughable, however, such as the pitiful guy who tries to overcome you with his karate moves. Small adversaries are quicker, while large ones take more shots to kill. The diversity here could certainly have been a lot greater.
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