'A grim dystopian future' comes in at number 14 in the Bumper Book Of Great Games Clichés. Unreal Tournament, Half-Life 2, Deus Ex - George Orwell seems to have created a monster that will not die, and French developer Kylotonn's Bet On Soldier is next on the list.
It's set during a brutal world war where the battling parties aren't nations but (wait for it) rival corporations, the true rulers of the planet. This war's McSoldiers aren't hitting the battlefield for reasons of patriotism or morality, but because killing is the best way of making gargantuan piles of moolah. The crème de la crème of mercs (a group which includes you) are invited to participate in Running Man-style game shows, where they get the chance to earn big bucks and stardom.
The issue of money is central to Bet On Soldier: there are no weapons or health pick-ups to grab, so you find yourself tooling up with weapons before a level and having cash drained from you by ammo and armour terminals scattered throughout each stage. Not only that, but you can splash the cash on mercenary sidekicks to back you up in battle. These include specialists such as engineers - able to repair your armour for free - as well as tougher combat troops.
Luckily, making money is a pretty straightforward process, as it merely involves dealing death to lots of enemies. Pull off a particularly skilful kill (a headshot for instance) and you're rewarded with a tasty bonus. If you want to rake in the riches even more quickly, you can place bets against the other champions that crop up during the levels. There will be over 40 of these boss-like characters in the final game, each one with strengths and weaknesses that you (and a television audience of millions) will be keenly on the lookout for. Not only will you have to kill these opposing badasses to win your bet, but you also have to do it within 60 seconds of them popping up.
Weapons run the FPS gamut, from pistol all the way to sniper rifle and rocket launcher, so no prizes for innovation there, although Pariah-styled weapon upgrades are promised to deliver the personal touch. One particularly meaty rocket launcher lets you 'tag' a target so that
all subsequent shots home in on it automatically. The target rarely knows what hit him. Although, given a little time, he'd probably get the gist of it. Big stompy robots meanwhile, much akin to 'Get away from her you Bitch!' Power-Loaders in Aliens are also available for disabling and consequent control for you and your hired buddies.
The betting concept doesn't stop at single-player either and, even though Kylotonn's remarkably lofty multiplayer ambitions seem to have dampened somewhat since the last time we met them, Bet On Soldier will have eight classes to choose from, and each of the six 32-player maps will contain an arena where one-on-one fights will take place. You'll then be able to lay bets on your team's representative, and call him names when he dies like a dog in the street.
The code we saw still needs some spit and polish, but it certainly has the makings of a cult favourite.