Soldier of Fortune: Payback is the third title in the Soldier of Fortune series and came out in 2007. The game is centered around a mercenary named Thomas Mason whom works for a private military company called the Shop.
The game starts off with the protagonist, Thomas Mason, being sent to Al-Qa'im, Iraq to rescue a Chinese diplomat named Quan Li from insurgents and bring him back to China. Quan Li had uncovered evidence of the Chinese government being involved in slave labor for the construction of an illegal oil pipeline in the country of Mogaung.
To accomplish his mission, Thomas Mason is teamed up with fellow Shop operative Colonel Miller. Together they fight their way through the streets of Al-Qa'im and eventually find Quan Li in an SUV. Colonel Miller then kills Quan Li and explains that he did it because he is a mercenary and "got paid more to switch teams." He tries to kill Mason, but with the help of 4 other Shop operatives, Mason kills Colonel Miller in a shootout.
Mason speaks with fellow operative Cassandra Decker about Colonel Miller's betrayal and learns that intel shows that Colonel Miller was in Mogaung recently where he most likely defected and planned Quan Li's assassination. Mason also tells Decker that Miller had a strange symbol tattooed on his neck and sends her a picture of it so she can find out what it means. Decker then sends Mason to Mogaung to put a stop to the construction of the oil pipeline.
Once in Mogaung, Mason finds himself facing heavy resistance from the Mogaung Army, whom had taken over an entire village and turned the locals into slaves. Mason manages to fight his way to the occupied village and talks to one of the slaves whom gives him a key-card to an elevator. Decker informs Mason over the radio that the oil pipeline is being built to help provide funding to a terrorist organization. Mason uses the elevator to get to the construction site of the pipeline and kills all of the Mogaung soldiers there, the two foremen Min and Nam, and then destroys the pipeline with C4 demolition charges.
After making his escape from the area by boat, Mason informs Decker that one of people at the construction site also had the same symbol as Colonel Miller on his neck. Decker explains that one of the insurgents they captured in Al-Qa'im said that the symbol belongs to a drug cartel/terrorist organization called the Imad Al-Din Alliance (IAA) which is based in the Eshkashem area of Afghanistan. Mason is then sent to Afghanistan to find out what their connection to Miller was.
Once near their base, Mason faces resistance from the IAA troops but spots their leader, Imad Al-Din, meeting up with a contact named Bashar. Mason follows them into the caves and corners to Bashar after a long chase. Bashar explains that he is just an emissary and tells Mason that Imad Al-Din and The Moor were meeting close by. He also reveals that Colonel Miller did join the IAA for money. Mason then executes Bashar after being taunted. Decker then tells Mason that The Moor is the new target now since the Moor is on the most wanted list of almost every counter-terrorist agency on the planet and as such likely has a hand in the whole thing. Mason sees The Moor giving a brief case to Imad Al-Din and after talking with him, he leaves. Mason is then spotted and gets into a shootout with Imad and his troops, but kills them all.
Mason then finds himself in a marijuana field outside the IAA base and is confronted by the Moor in an Mi-24 Hind helicopter. In addition to The Moor's Mi-24 firing rockets and machine gun rounds at Mason, Mason is also shot at by The Moor's ground troops. However, Mason manages to inflict enough damage to The Moor's helicopter to cause him to retreat.
Decker tells Mason that she had received intel that a man named Gavin Wall, whom was connected to the plot, was kidnapped by a militia group in a country called Liebo and was being held for ransom. Gavin Wall was an advanced weapons scientists that specialized in weapons of mass destruction and may have been working on a WMD for terrorists to use. Mason is sent to Liebo to find Gavin and capture him so he can be questioned.
Once in Liebo, Mason shoots his way to a camp being used by the militia to house their slaves. He makes contact with the one of the slaves whom leads him to an open pit mine. At the mine, Mason kills more militia members and rescues 2 slaves that were being tortured. One of the slaves leads him to another area of the mine where he is confronted by the leader of the mining operation, Mace. The slave gets into a dump truck and uses it to help Mason catch up to Mace. After an intense shootout, Mace's SUV looses control and drives off the cliff, killing Mace. With Mace and many of the militia soldiers dead, the slaves break free at the prison camp and kill some of the remaining militia soldiers. Mason frees the few slaves that haven't broken free yet and shoots his way to the building that Gavin Wall is being held at only to find out that he is too late. Gavin's older brother, crime syndicate leader Ethan Wall and a mercenary he hired where already there to free Gavin. It is then revealed that Mason had a personal vendetta against Ethan because he had severely injured Decker during a mission in Hong Kong. Ethan and Gavin get away while Mason is in a shootout with the mercenary that Ethan hired. Mason kills the rival mercenary.
Decker informs Mason that the headquarters of Ethan Wall's syndicate is in Donetsk, Ukraine and is a hotel/brothel that serves as a front for his criminal operations. Decker also says that they have an informant inside their organization named Alena and that Mason should meet up with her to find out more information.
Mason arrives at the hotel/brothel and shoots his way to hotel room where a phone rings. It is Alena and she tells Mason that Ethan and Gavin are in the parking garage and that the only way to get there was a hidden elevator that was disguised as a closet. Mason shoots his way to the hidden elevator, but once he makes it to the garage he finds only Gavin, whom tells Mason that he is too late since Ethan had already left with the device that he made. Mason gets into a shootout with Gavin and the syndicate's enforcers and chases Gavin throughout the garage, eventually cornering him a room and killing him.
Mason then gets notified by Decker that Ethan is at his hideout which is a club called Club Evolution. Once at the club, Mason faces heavy resistance from the syndicate's enforcers but kills them all. He corners Ethan whom reveals that he never truly cared for his younger brother Gavin. After remarking how cold-hearted Ethan is, they get into an intense shootout that ends with Mason killing Ethan. Mason then takes the briefcase with the device in it but is then blitz attacked by Alena whom reveals that she too had defected. She gets away with the device.
The game ends in a cliffhanger with Alena, The Moor, and an unknown third person talking about using the device to wage a war on the United States.
The game received mixed to negative reviews from critics and players alike. The largest point of criticism was the complex plot which many players found to be confusing, difficult to follow, and somewhat incoherent. However, many critics also commented that the game had good graphics.
Soldier of Fortune: Payback was initially banned in Australia due to the excessive violence and gore in the game. However, a modified version was later made for the Australian market which was approved by the Australian government. The modified version contains less intense violence and dismemberment is completely removed from the game.
The game is banned in Germany due to the high amount of violence. No modified version for the German market has been made so game remains completely unavailable in Germany.