reviews\ Jun 9, 2002 at 8:00 pm

The Sum of All Fears - PC - Review

Stealth, mission objectives and a growing terror that the world we know is on a collision course with disaster.

Those are all elements of The Sum of All Fears, a PC release from Red Storm Entertainment, Paramount and Ubi Soft. The game bears a lot of similarities to other Tom Clancy-inspired games, but parallels both the novel and the motion picture. What begins so simply as a hostage rescued soon takes on parameters of a larger and deadlier assault.

The game begins on Dec. 31, 2001 in Charleston, West Virginia. A militant, and well-armed, group known as the Mountain Men have commandeered a television station. Your job, as a member of the F.B.I.’s HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) is easy – disarm the security system, cut the station feed, free the hostages, and don’t take any casualties. It is so cut and dried, that the game’s mission briefing rates it as easy.

There’s even a map that shows the location of the bad guys. Now, just because they happen to be waiting on the other side of the door, weapon aimed and ready to fire the second you open that door, tends to discount the carnival target brand of easy.

Of course, you are well armed. You have a variety of weapons, including grenades and flashbangs, and you have team members that will clear a room at the merest whisper of suggestion (Ok, you barked the command through your headset).

This is only the first of 11 single-player missions that will put you in harm’s way, but will challenge and entertain. And just because you start the game working for the F.B.I. on the HRT, doesn’t mean you are there for long. The game really picks up-tempo when CIA’s John Clark appears.

If there is a drawback, it lies in that the missions appear to be linear in nature. The same bad guys will be in the same spots if you have to replay the mission.

Those who have played other Red Storm games, like the Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear or Ghost Recon games, will doubtless recognize some similarities. But this game is a departure from those titles in that there is no planning phase that sometimes seems to take as long as the mission, and the squad command interface is simple to use. A hotkey brings up the interface, and you just click on the command (like to clear a room, or flashbang it), and the team immediately executes the order. There are also back-up squads that will support your team. You don’t get a chance to control them, but there are in place if the firefight gets intense.

This game is very player friendly. Even without a manual to reference, once the hotkeys have been explained (there is a tutorial), it is straight into the game and knee-deep in action.

Graphically this game is very good. The animation is lifelike and the environments are well designed. You can get up close to the wall and while a bit fuzzy, it still retains some of the textures. The environment is not completely interactive. You can shoot a windshield and see the bullet hole in it. Same goes for a neon overhead light, but the light doesn’t go out.

The sounds of this game are also very good. Each of the weapons has a unique sound - weapons include M4, M16, M16/M203 (has a grenade launcher), M4/Shotgun (this one is a blast!, pardon the pun), sawed-off shotgun, silenced sniper rifle, frag grenade, flashbang, and heartbeat sensor – and the game also features creaking doors, and a host of ambient sounds associated with close-quarter combat.

The Sum of All Fears is a very good first-person shooter game. The story evolves, there are a number of challenges that will require you to think your way through a situation rather than just go in firing. This is entertaining and addictive game playing.

This game is rated Teen.

Gameplay: 8.4
From the start of a mission until its end, the action is solid and evolving. That the missions seem a little linear if they need to be repeated is a drawback, but in spite of that, this game still delivers with challenging action.

Graphics: 8.5
The environments read very well, and the animation is very good. The environments are only interactive to a point.

Sound: 7.8
This game delivers exactly what you would expect, and does that crisply. The audio portion solidly supports the graphical elements.

Difficulty: 7
The player interface makes this game accessible to everyone, and the missions do get harder as the game progresses. The challenge is there, and while the game is big on firepower, sometimes it is how you use the tool rather than the person with the biggest gun wins.

Concept: 7
While this game bears striking similarity to other Red Storm games, it does feature some improvements in game play and interface that make the experience enjoyable.

Multiplayer: 7
The game is new so at times checked there wasn’t a lot of action online. The game does have four lobbies for the retail version and three demo lobbies. You will have to be a member of (free membership), and each time you sign on you will go through the auto-patch process.

Overall: 8.3
This is a very good first-person shooter, with an evolving story and solid action elements. If you want a game that will draw you in and challenge you on several levels, this is a game that will please you.  


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