Nolan Daneworth could only be the name of a videogame character, couldn't it? And yes, it is: Nolesy is the star of the rapidly approaching Bet On Soldier (now with the suitably violent secondary moniker of Blood Sport), and we recently got the chance to guide him through a few levels of first-person action.
So, a little background: it's the future and the world is 'a shitty place' - Nolan's words, not ours - thanks to the war that's raged for the past 80 years. The only celebrities in this society are the Bet On Soldier Champions, soldiers competing in televised clashes somehow filmed during the real battles of the war. Incidentally, this sounds totally impractical to us (for starters, how do they get the cameras in there?), but designers rarely let logic or plausibility get in the way of a decent excuse for a game, so we'll let it go.
Nolan is looking for the men who killed his wife - men that he recognised from the telly as Bet On Soldier Champions, no less. So as you go through the levels - which are filled mostly with mere foot soldiers - you occasionally face hard-as-nails champions to fight in one-on-one duels. The tougher the opponent, the more money you get if and when you kill them.
And thanks to what Kylotonn describes as 'hand-to-mouth' gameplay, you need as much moolah as you can get your hands on; there are no pick-ups to be had here. You purchase weapons, armour and up to two AI buddies before
a level and then you're stuck with them until that level is over. Ammo and armour can be replenished at certain points along the way, but again you have to splash the cash each time.
It's tough going at times, especially if you select the wrong gear before you start - we had trouble taking down the huge exo walkers without a rocket launcher, for instance - but every enemy you plug yields a small monetary reward. Score a headshot and you even get a bonus.
The AI mercenaries provide capable support, particularly the engineers able to repair your armour. Other options include heavily-armed troopers and snipers, and all can be given simple 'stay' and 'follow' orders.
We played through work-in-progress builds of three levels (no playtest of the innovative-sounding multiplayer just yet), and it's fair to say that Kylotonn still has a bit to prove. The enemy AI, physics and graphics engine are all reasonably solid, but there seems to be a danger that, should you remove the money system, you'd be left with a shooter
much like any other average example of the genre. With the September release date looming large, it won't be long before we find out if this title is a dead cert or an also-ran.