Preview by: Patrick 'Rhett' Moore
Söldner: Secret Wars is a highly anticipated 3rd/1st Person view wargame (similar in genre to Operation Flashpoint), that features over 60 weapons (FAMAS, 557, G36C, M4A1, just to give you a few names...) and over 70 vehicles (including helicopters, jets, VTOL, tanks, jeeps, APCs and so forth). With such a variety, there may be a reason to delete BF1942 / Desert Combat from our computers, and especially since there's a destructible environment engine implemented for all us destructive people.. All in all, I've had great expectations for the game so far.
You're a soldier of the near future, in customized form (camo, accessories, faces, palettes, boots), and gain cash by doing missions, although there are also other rewards like new vehicles, aircraft, and weaponry. Although the cash part wasn't fully implemented yet, due to it being an outdated beta, you could still earn it. You could potentially call this a 'classy Counter-Strike' if you will.
From a 3rd or 1st person perspective, you control this 'Söldner' (meaning mercenary in German), who is a part of a mercenary type of army of specialists for hire, that accepts missions for aforementioned rewards. Although single-player wasn't fully implemented, it provided a taste of action with almost all of the aforementioned weapons and vehicles (excluding jets) - each with its own unique control and feeling. What I did play though, was an excellent remake of Operation Flashpoint, and its closest competitor in the genre.
The detail on all of the vehicles was excellent down to random pieces of machinery, bolts drilled inside it, camouflage painted nicely all over it, and all this corresponds to authentic vehicles used in the military today. Speaking of camouflage, any terrain you're on, the vehicle spawns with that exact pattern, making it blend in (completely, sometimes). This makes UH-60's (BlackHawk's) and other various rapid-combat aircraft, easier and more fun to use in stealth missions. Once again, speaking of the UH-60, there is a rope/hook that can be lowered from it, and used to drop down from that particular helo rapidly. This hook can ALSO be used to pick up the M1A1 Abrams tank (possibly more, not confirmed) and drop it anywhere on the map (including a building, crushing the thing, and anyone inside 'gasp'), meaning you could carry a base or gathering to another location.
Multiplayer could be the biggest aspect of this game, due to the massive customization, the multitude of tactics that can be used, and the vast, vast, areas of land. Encore is even planning a 128-player Linux server package to be released soon after the game's release, which will be huge. Clans will get a Clan-War mode, where clans own plots of land, and set up offensives against nearby clans, which get a few days to set up a defense and prepare for the onslaught. This mode could prove to be excellent and set a new standard for clan-warfare.
As I mentioned earlier, the game is powered by a destructible environment engine. This engine can detect when you shoot a rocket at a tree, a house, or any plot of land. This calculates how much destruction happens and so forth. Crashing tanks into walls can also topple a structure, meaning a rush from the rear, while there's a decoy up front, could be deadly. Söldner is all about these tactics. From what I think, the military could get some benefit from this game, with strategy being looked over by tacticians and being simulated inside the game.
Overall, Söldner is shaping up (from the dated and limited build we got to play) to be a good game. It is still my most anticipated game of the year, and most likely always will be. With a multiplayer mode that will seemingly dominate all others, a VAST amount of land to destroy, a HUGE arsenal of weaponry, and a concept that is admired by gamers everywhere, Soldner's release should not be overlooked.