Soldner never, ever disappoints. There are many games that you can rely on for offering you a fun time. But there is none other (that I've encountered) that provides so much endless, improvised hilarity. It is, without question, the funniest game ever made.
There have been many patches of the game over the last few years. Many many patches. I think the total stands at approximately 450,000. What they all have in common is they don't fix what people wrongly interpret to be mistakes.
However, I'm a purist, and as such I desire the game in its purest form. (Homonyms equal truth.) This week I have been playing the original, untouched Soldner. Soldner as the developers originally intended, multiple companies and fan groups started meddling with perfection.
And what perfection. The game, which is probably meant to be played multiplayer, offers a single-player campaign that has retrospectively been described as "training". This is a lie. It is the single-player game which shines most brightly. It's the single-player game of the unpatched version of Soldner about which I speak today.
You play as a soldier. Your mission is to shot at some other soldiers, then rescue hostages, or maybe blow up a fuel tank. Sure, this makes more sense in multiplayer, but tough.
Having picked a mission from the list, you are deposited between three magic boxes that provide you with weapons, cars and helicopters and a compass point to aim for. With all this in place, the game begins to improvise.
Because why should an object exist in the world? Really, seriously, think about it. What universal law states that an object has to continue existing? Or continue to exist in the space it currently occupies? So when the bonnet of my jeep clips the side of a fuel container, I see no reason why it shouldn't pop out of existence.
This is not my favourite fuel tank popping out of existence story Soldner has provided. I remember a few years ago playing it, driving to a house in which a target was held, with a large fuel container out front. There were two enemy tanks, which on seeing my arrival sprang into action. One started driving around the house in a peculiarly elliptical orbit, while the other tested the strength of the external wall of the building by repeatedly ramming into it.
After it blew itself up the orbiting tank's trajectory took into its path the fuel tank, causing it to crash directly into it. There was some sort of pop, and then in their place sat a Jeep, driven by a man in a red beret.
This is like being given a cuddle by God.
Everyone must have their own favourite thing about Soldner, and mine is the way buildings explode. And don't explode.
As we all know, both wooden and brick buildings, when tapped by any object, let out an almighty explosion. They don't actually blow up, obviously. That would be ludicrous.
But instead they let out a billow of smoke, and a cacophonous boom as if a Jumbo Jet filled with petrol flew into a TNT factory. We've all heard it, but what other game has thought to include it? Exactly.
A lot of games will fall into the trap of stereotyping a country. Oh, you've got a level set in China have you? Well, everything had better be temples then, hadn't it?
Not Soldner. It eschews such lazy (let's call it what it is) racism, and instead has every single country look exactly the same. A Chinese building - that's the same as a US building, of course.
And why should I be able to fire a gun that's on my hip? It's clearly there for decoration, and it's idiotic to go into a fight expecting it would work, and instead having to resort to hoping the AI would take care of itself. Which it inevitably does, because it's kind like that.
One mission asked me to rescue a hostage. That can be a lot of hard work in most games, inevitably forcing you to suffer having to protect them from the enemy units. Not Soldner. The rival soldiers spotted my arrival from afar, and immediately set their base on fire. Thank you, kindly rival soldiers.
Perhaps a favourite feature is the ability to intersplice objects on a molecular level. At the start of a task I requested myself a tank and a Jeep. The tank spawned itself inside the Jeep, the two items fighting to occupy the same space in the universe, causing both the violently explode. Other games would never have thought of that.
And in my opinion tanks should be able to spin on the spot as if made of polystyrene, and of course they should get stuck up trees. I'll fight anyone who says otherwise.
But without question, the absolute greatest thing about Soldner, and undoubtedly the reason not to update with any of the patches, is the voice that utters "Soldner" at every loading point. He doesn't shout it enthusiastically. He doesn't growl it menacingly. He doesn't whisper it suggestively. He just says it.
He's not bored. He's not rude. Instead he says it in the most "a man just saying something" voice that any human has ever uttered. It is the very middle of the very middle of the very middle of all of speech, collectively over the millennia, and was recorded for eternal history in this, the most unique of games. (But patching it causes him to say it far less often, which is ungood.)
Updates have pretty much been abandoned for the game now, having been bumped about between various groups, including all sorts of strops and walkings out due to various contentious reasons. That's to be expected when dealing with a game as important as Soldner.
There are few games that have provided me with as much entertainment as Soldner. While Boiling Point's bugs were impressive, Soldner manages similar brokenness, but importantly in a game that doesn't warrant persistence.
It's a terrible game whose redeeming features are its bugs - it's performance art, improvised comedy, terrible coding. It will always hold a place in my heart and a space on my hard drive.