The Sum of all Fears

Review: The Sum of all Fears

When a game bears Tom Clancy's name, most players know what to expect: gameplay that involves stealth and tactics rather than all-out action. Titles like Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell for example, persuade the player to execute their missions swiftly, secretly and silently. Odd then, that the latest game bearing the American writer's name does not require the player to rely on any of his/her skills *at all*. Strange? Read on…

The Sum of all Fears (SoaF) is based on the equally-named movie starring Morgan Freeman and Ben Affleck. The story is more or less identical to that of its silver screen counterpart: a terrorist group wants to trigger World War III by pitting the United States and Russia against each other. In this game, you control the lead of a small hostage rescue team and it's your job to free innocents from the clutches of their captors, planting bombs and generally taking out bad guys. This all may sound pretty exiting, and it actually WAS rather exiting in the pc-version of this game, but something went terribly wrong during the converservion to Gamecube.

Graphics:

First of all, the graphics make the game look like it's running on a PSOne or N64. There is no detail whatsoever, the poly count is incredibly low and the textures are just bland and boring. There's a fair amount of clipping too: sometimes you can see the gun of an enemy sticking out of a closed door. Although the stages take place in different environments, there's very little variation: just the same offices, bunkers, warehouses and caves over and over again. There's only minor difference between the appearences of your enemies too, and your team members even look EXACTLY like each other. Of course, team members of the same military unit always carry the same type of uniform, but still, some variation would have been nice.

Sound:

The sound is possibly even worse: footsteps sound awfully 'metallic' even when walking on grass and the sounds of fired shots are dull and lifeless. Sometimes, when emptying a weapon like a submachine gun, the sound of the current shot gets completely drowned by the sound of the previous shot. Sloppy. The voices of you and of your comrades are not too bad when compared to the other soundeffects in the game, but it still sounds quite uninspired. Repeated exclamations like "Tango down!" soon become tedious.

The music is one of the better parts of SoaF, creating suspense when opening doors or obtaining key items. Unfortunately, brief events like that are the only occasions when music is heard and because there's often no real danger around when the music does kick in, these tunes soon feel 'out of place'.

Gameplay:

About the gameplay, then. As I said before, this is a stealth game where strange enough, no stealth is needed. All you need to do to complete a mission is to follow a white line on your map (it points out *exactly* where to go), stop at the right location to push a few buttons, locate enemies (on the map again) barge in the door and kill them, then return at the rendez-vous point. Every mission plays more or less the same, which is a pity because the briefings are detailed and offer a lot of background information. Why they included this trivial intelligence is beyond me, because you just don't need it to complete a mission. The option to choose your team's weapon packages, like "assault", "stealth" or "recon" adds some depth to the gameplay. However, since you cannot give your teammates specific orders like "stay", "fight" or "snipe", the tactical aspect is nullified. This means that in the end, your teammembers act as 'lives': when the lead (you) dies, the next one in line becomes (you). For the rest of time, your comrades are there to stand in your line of fire and getting stuck behind the staircase.

The game is rather easy, despite the poor and unresponsive controls. If you want to make it hard on yourself: there's always the option to disable the in-game save function, the auto-reload or the auto-target mode. It probably only adds frustration.

Final Say:

Generally, this game is nothing short of dissapointing. What could've been a killer tactical stealth game has become a dull, uninspriring pile of nonsense. Poor graphics, awful sound and a severe lack of gameplay make this a game that is best left on the shelves.

N-Europe Final Verdict

A fine example of what a game should NOT be. Better wait for Splinter Cell or Metal Gear Solid.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability2
  • Visuals2
  • Audio2
  • Lifespan2
Final Score

5

Pros

Not many games like this on GC (yet!)

Cons

Awful graphics
Sound is even worse
It just isn't any fun


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