The Sum of All Fears
Windows - 2002
Description of The Sum of All Fears
Nuclear devastation has never been dramatized in a movie quite as effectively as it was in the blockbuster flick The Sum of all Fears, based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name. One scene in particular puts you right into the middle of a white-out where military personnel are blindly scrambling to save the President and other officials. It's one of those "you are there" experiences that would have worked really well in the computer game, which is only loosely based on the movie storyline. Unfortunately, the game never really achieves that level of greatness.
The fact that The Sum of All Fears is still an addictive, captivating game certainly has more to do with the Red Storm engine and the developers' incredible ability to make great games than either the movie tie-ins or a well-crafted storyline. In fact, there's really only one memorable scene from the game that even has anything to do with the movie. Although many of the locations are modeled after the movie, none of the characters, specific plot points or overall tone were translated at all.
In the game, you play as the elite FBI Hostage Rescue Team thwarting the plans of a renegade militia operation. There are some hints about a nuclear bomb set loose on unsuspecting Americans, but it could be just about any cookie-cutter terrorism threat. Missions are particularly bland. Basically, you are just rescuing hostages or shooting bad guys in all twelve scenarios. You never get to do some of the cool stuff from Ghost Recon, such as blowing up a bridge or protecting tanks. And you never get quite as immersed in the gameworld since the locations are just not as diverse. Anyone who has walked around a dimly lit warehouse or wandered through a sprawling estate will feel right at home throughout the entire game.
At some point during one of the missions, you might come to the stark realization that the game seems to be just a regurgitated re-hash of the Rainbow Six sneaker-shooter concept, which might also be the exact same moment when you realize that this is actually a really good thing. In other words, playing a half-baked Red Storm game is about the same as playing the best strategic shooters from other development teams. Plus, the more you put yourself into the game the more you will enjoy playing it.
You can become seriously lost in the action. The fact that you can die after just one well aimed shot makes the game much tenser, and it's only when you employ some real-world strategy that you can even hope to make it past even one small section of a map. For example, in an office setting where terrorists have bunkered down for a firefight, you will have to do some careful leaning, squat frequently, and conserve every last bullet. Commanding your squadmates to infiltrate a room with flashbangs is almost required. No one plays Red Storm games with guns a-blazing, and half the fun is sneaking around pelting enemies before they can pelt you.
Fortunately, this game dispenses with much of the setup process from previous Red Storm games. You can select weaponry and teammates but that's about it. There are a few other newbie aids thrown in for good measure. An auto-targeting system almost makes the game too easy, locking onto targets as though the game was a rail shooter a la the James Bond series on Nintendo. On the easiest difficulty setting, a heartbeat sensor is always enabled even when you are not carrying the device. Generally, the maps are much easier to clear than other games of this style and include very few choke points. There were at least two maps that did have some tough choke points where multiple enemies would gather for battle. There's no blood or gore in the game, and those looking to see some spectacular death animations should look at the more arcade-like offerings.
Multiplayer was as good as you might expect. There's the typical last man standing option plus some cooperative maps. Ubi.com provides a streamline interface for matching up games, although our experience was that games would drop the connection too frequently, even on a broadband connection. Lag was a serious problem with more than about ten players.
One of the best parts of the game is a configurable quick mission mode that uses multiplayer maps. You crank up the difficulty setting and battle your way through maps all alone, which was probably the coolest thing about the game. Once you learn how to lean-strafe there's no going back to Quake (at least for that evening). And, the thrill of clearing a map without the aid of your AI buddies is certainly a nice bonus.
Graphically, SOAF walks a narrow line between ultra-realistic settings and way-too-sparse texture mapping. Just when you get a chance to sit back and gawk at the outside of a finely detailed mansion, you'll burst through a doorway and notice that the walls have very little texture, that enemies look a little too cartoon-like, and that most of the next-gen tricks such as bump-mapping and self-shadowing are completely absent. It would be really cool to see translucent smoke billowing from a gun nozzle or watch the weathered faces of your fellow commandos as they mow down terrorists, but for the most part the game looks like an upgraded version of Rainbow Six. The fact that the understated music is almost completely inconsequential to the overall feel of the game or that the voice acting is only passable just makes the whole package seem a little less polished.
For long-time Red Storm fans, having another stealh shooter to play through can only be a good thing. It's the Wal-Mart crowd that thinks they might be getting more of the heart-pounding action and intricate plot intricacies that will be sorely disappointed. Not only do you not get to play as Ben Affleck, but there is no main character to speak of and all you do is run around and shoot people. Call it a bait-and-switch if you want, but if you start seeing more Wal-Mart customers buying Red Storm games over the next few months, you can only assume that they were hooked by the great gameplay, sneaking combat, and intense gunfights with terrorists that deserve as much of a virtual beating as they do in real life.
Review By GamesDomain
Comments and reviews
Ortay 2021-02-14 0 point
The Steam version A: still requires a crack to run and B: isn't buyable in many countries, like the UK, can the download be brought back for users outside of the US?
trd 2019-04-16 0 point
can't find this game on steam, gog or uplay. not available in scandinavia?
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