Sum of All Fears (GBA)

Review

posted 2/2/2003 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: GBA
For much of my time with Tom Clancy’s Sum of All Fears I had a miserable time. I hated just about everything about it, from the small graphics to the slow pacing of the game. I was ready to come back and give this game as close to a 1.0 as I could without destroying my subjective reliability.

But a funny thing happened on a long trip from out of town, I actually found myself enjoying this little game. Granted, it still has most of the problems I hated about it originally, but for some strange reason they didn’t seem to bother me like they did only days earlier.

This actually put me in a tough spot. You see, I had all but finished an extremely negative review for the Sum of All Fears, but had not submitted it, in hopes that I would actually learn to enjoy the game. And lo and behold, I actually started to enjoy this little game, even if it is cluttered with more than a few flaws.

First and foremost, while the Sum of All Fears looks like Cannon Fodder, it certainly doesn’t play anything like that classic game. Where Cannon Fodder is a fast action game, the Sum of All Fears recreates all the excitement of a tactical shooter. In other words, you better take things slow and be deliberate instead of a more basic run and gun game play.

This dynamic actually works for and against the Sum of All Fears. On the one hand, the game plays remarkably well for a game of its kind shrunk down for a handheld system. Problem is, this might be one of those kinds of games that shouldn’t be ported to a portable.

On the PC and consoles, games like the Sum of All Fears generally offer a lot of techniques and moves to master, usually resulting in quite a bit of button memorization. This is generally pretty easy on gamers, since most current controls have more than six buttons to offer. But on the GameBoy Advance it is somewhat limited, considering there are only four buttons to work with (if you don’t include the start and select buttons).

To compensate for the lack of buttons, Red Storm Entertainment has given us a workable, but extremely difficult to use set-up that involves a whole bunch of button combinations. While firing your weapon is simple enough, changing between your four team members and between their weapons is a major chore. Likewise, you’ll find that even things that should be simple, like aiming and opening up doors, are sometimes frustratingly hard, due in large part to having to combine buttons together. And sometimes it’s not just pushing the L and R buttons together, there are some things that require you to actually hold the R button down, while pushing the A button a number of times. This set up works, but not without a whole lot of frustration.
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