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    Review

    The Sum of All Fears Review

    • First Released
      released
    • Reviewed Feb 11, 2003
    • GC

    This first-person shooter from Red Storm Entertainment suffers from graphical problems, poor control, and terrible AI, and on top of all that, it can be beaten in less than two hours your first time through.

    The Sum of All Fears for the GameCube is, in short, terrible. This first-person shooter from Red Storm Entertainment suffers from graphical problems, poor control, and terrible AI, and on top of all that, it can be beaten in less than two hours your first time through.

    Finding enemies with the threat detector takes all the suspense out of sneaking around.
    Finding enemies with the threat detector takes all the suspense out of sneaking around.

    The game's basic story line is set at the dawn of the 21st century, when terrorism knows no boundaries. The game strings together 11 missions that loosely follow a few of the events from the film and novel of the same name--essentially, you're being given counterterrorism missions based on the research of CIA analyst Jack Ryan. The game contains three different play options: training, campaign, and quick mission. Training, of course, teaches you how the gameplay mechanics work, though it doesn't actually tell you what the buttons on the GameCube controller do. The campaign mode is the game's main single-player mode of play, and its missions typically involve killing terrorists, retrieving documents, and so on. The missions are easy and short, and even a novice player should be able to get through the game on its default settings in roughly an hour and a half. The final mode of play, quick mission, allows you to replay any of the game's missions with one of three different twists: complete the mission again, take out all the enemies, or simply reach to the extraction point safely. Needless to say, there isn't a whole lot for players to tackle in The Sum of All Fears.

    The game's default gameplay settings are configured so that most of its beginner aids, like the auto aim and the threat indicator, are turned on from the start. For instance, by default, the minimap shows the exact location of enemy positions, the auto map shows you exactly where to go, and the snap aim feature makes it so all you have to do to target an enemy soldier is point in his general direction. These default settings make the game a largely pointless exercise, since everything is more or less handled for you. It should be noted that you can turn off all the aids, which does make playing The Sum of All Fears more about creeping around and exercising your combat skills. But even on the hardest difficulty setting, the game is made incredibly easy by terribly incompetent enemy AI. The enemy soldiers basically stand around and wait for you to come to them. In fact, sometimes you'll try to open a door and it'll only open partway because an enemy soldier is on the other side. He won't even move when you try shooting his arm and gun, which clip right through the door. Repeated attempts to open the door eventually get the soldier to move out of the way. The game's difficulty is also lessened by the inclusion of a quick save that allows you to pick up right where you left off if you fail a mission. This probably won't happen very often, though, since you have three soldiers on your team and you can switch to one of the other two if your current soldier dies. The AI soldiers accompanying you aren't really intelligent, either, and they basically just follow you around. Sometimes they can't even do that right--they'll occasionally get stuck on doors and objects as you make your way through the level.

    One of the many small annoying things about The Sum of All Fears are the text windows that pop up while you're playing to provide you with information regarding your mission. While the info is usually something important, like a warning that you have a limited amount of time before local law enforcement arrives, the text window that presents it blocks your view when it appears. And it doesn't matter if you're in the middle of a firefight or not--the text window will pop up, and you won't be able to see the enemies.

    Enemies not only let doors smack them in the face, but they also let them clip through their guns!
    Enemies not only let doors smack them in the face, but they also let them clip through their guns!

    Visually, The Sum of All Fears has to be one of the worst-looking GameCube games on the market. The game uses extremely low-resolution textures for the walls and environmental objects, which gives the game's graphics a muddy, N64-like quality. The character models used for your teammates and enemies are fairly simple polygonal models that are skinned with low-res textures. The few character animations that are in the game are simply terrible. Your teammates kind of shuffle around, and enemies move and fall a couple of different ways, but that's about it. Perhaps the most notable negative in the graphics department is the game's horribly inconsistent frame rate, which drops dramatically when there are more than a few enemies or friendly soldiers on the screen firing their weapons. A few other graphical flaws, like really poor lighting and the aforementioned clipping, also plague The Sum of All Fears.

    In the way of audio, The Sum of All Fears doesn't have a whole lot to offer. The weapon sounds are fairly unrealistic--especially the shotgun effects, which sound more like a bottle rocket going off than an actual blast of buckshot. The game has a limited amount of voice work, and it effectively communicates the messages players need to hear from the computer-controlled AI teammates. The ambient sound effects, like the crickets that you can hear chirping in the distance, provide the only real atmosphere the game has. The game's selection of music is limited to a track that plays on the title screen and a few snippets that play right before a firefight or just after an objective has been completed. Additionally, and perhaps strangest of all, all the game's audio sounds like you're hearing it through a long tube.

    In the end, The Sum of Fears for the GameCube is one of the worst first-person shooters on the market. When you take all its problems into account, including the flawed presentation and gameplay mechanics, the lengthy load times, and the lack of difficulty and length, The Sum of All Fears is simply a game that you shouldn't waste your time or money on.

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  2. First Released
    released
    • Game Boy Advance
    • GameCube
    • PC
    While it's clear that The Sum of All Fears was rushed for the movie's release, it's a surprisingly solid game.
    5.7
    Average Rating480 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Red Storm Entertainment, Ubisoft Shanghai
    Published by:
    Ubisoft
    Genre(s):
    Tactical, Action, First-Person, Shooter
    Theme(s):
    Modern
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Mild Violence, Violence