Gore: Ultimate Soldier


A low-budget singleplayer fix.

Gore isn’t your average game. It didn’t have millions of dollar behind it, but had to be created by a small dedicated team who’ve spent over 5 years working on it. It’s the typical heart-warming underdog story, but is that enough to make Gore a good game? The premise behind Gore is the old TRON movie and classic sci-fi novel Ender’s Game. A hundred years from now, military forces are trained inside a virtual world called the Meat Machine.

This super-computer falls prey to a devious hacker named Optiknerv, who steals a government database and essentially uploads himself into the system. You, of course, must now hunt him down. Entering the opening training level of this familiar FPS, you’ll see that the Amp 3D engine (licensed from Slam Software) has all the requisite rendering features — nothing requiring a high-end video card, but it’s got basic environment maps and particle effects. Sadly, it’s not the tools that are lacking, but the artistry.

The game’s 17 maps are small and blocky, and retain the detail seen in much older games like Quake II or Unreal. Worlds are cast in stone, entirely static, with no buttons or moving doors. Lighting and textures are applied with minimal thought to realism or ambience. Worst yet, player movement lacks any decent tactile feedback, so you’re left floating lifelessly in a comatose environment. You could argue that these flaws are by design since Gore takes place inside a computer, but I’d label that a copout.

Like most aspects of the game, its locales — including Brooklyn, a train station, a mansion, a temple, a space station, and a chemical plant — are ripped straight from previous shooters. The most entertaining map is a haunted house, which actually lends itself to the overtly artificial set design from which the rest of the game suffers.

14Enemies come in several flavors, but none are memorable due to rudimentary AI and poor sound effects.  On the positive side, you’re assisted by Marines in several missions, including a scenario in which you escort a demolitions man across an entire map. The friendlies add welcome life, and defending them makes for some of the better moments. Problem is, their AI is weak, too. I had to retrieve my wayward demolitions man twice, while another partner got permanently stuck bathing in a fountain. “Let’s go!†he invited whenever I walked past him.

A surprising 19 weapons are available, most of which have alternate-fire modes. They’re doled out at a good pace, but having so many options makes finding the tool you need a little tedious. To equip the gas explosives, for instance, you need to hit the 6 key three times.

Multiplay is the game’s strongest component, and for action fans seeking a change of pace, it might warrant Gore’s $30 price. In addition to deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag, you get four tactical modes: assault, last man standing, escape, and escort. All single-player maps are playable, and you get a handful of dedicated multiplayer-only levels. In a spark of originality, all weapons and power-ups explode when shot, a setup you can use to your advantage to damage nearby players.

System Requirements: Pentium II 500 MHz, 128MB RAM, WinXP

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