Innovation in FPS’s has been slow the last few years as developers have struggled to make large leaps forward brought about by select elements from the past like mouselook and leaning. Lately it has seemed as if most games are made with the “bigger, better, more” mentality. Better graphics, bigger guns, and more players on a server.
But publisher Digital Jesters together with French developer Kylotonn Entertainment are betting that they do have the next big leap forward – The Casino FPS, officially called Bet On Soldier.
No, Bet On Soldier doesn’t feature gunfights amidst roulette tables, one armed bandits, or 38-year old cocktail waitresses with bad teeth; it takes place in a future of Running Man-style television shows where governments and citizens resolve conflicts and make fortunes through wagers placed on mercenaries like your character – Nolan Daneworth. I could go into more of the story, but I assure you, you won’t care or feel like it is anything new.
Remember that one game where you woke up with amnesia only to find that your girlfriend/fiance/wife had been killed by the mob/government/aliens/bad people? See, you do know the gist of the story already.
You will also be pretty familiar with another big feature of this game – bugs. After multiple tries on several computers, I was finally able to get Bet On Soldier to install after tweaking my third box and then play without consistent crashes. Forums on the games website as well as a couple phone calls to fellow reviewers told me that I wasn’t alone and many people have been speculating that it is due to the infamous Starforce copy protection included in the game, but we will leave that for a future article.
Getting past the bugs and the story, there is an aspect of this game that is refreshingly new – the betting and gambling aspect. Introductory cutscenes in the game present you with the idea that millions of people are placing wagers on you as you fight your way through the levels. Though the gambling global audience has virtually no effect on your game, your own wagering does. In the beginning of missions you will have to spend your hard-won money on weapons and equipment for use in the level you are heading into, similar to Counter-Strike. It is a difficult decision since there are quite a few to choose from, but no indication as too which ones you will need, and there is no changing your mind mid-mission. If you choose to load up with a shotgun and you find your self in a wide-open level peppered with snipers… tough luck.
I do have good news, and it has nothing to do with my car insurance. The good news is that extra cash is rewarded inside the levels for creative and skillful kills. The game’s engine supports a very specific location-based damage system, so you can shoot someone in the leg enough times and watch the thigh armor degrade and fly off in small pieces until it is gone and he eventually dies. Perhaps interesting to watch from a graphics standpoint, but tedious to the home-viewing audience. Far greater cash rewards will be earned through torching enemies with a flame-thrower or making a difficult headshot. Here the players that spent a lot of money on high-dpi mice might find some advantage.