Soldier Of Fortune 2: Double Helix
Like Halo, Soldier of Fortune 2 is made up of a series of intense shoot-outs--but unlike Halo, your foes aren't smart enough to make the combat infinitely compelling. Geographically, Fortune 2 provides huge bang for the buck with nine massive levels and a unique random -mission generator (although it rarely generates fun levels). The single-player game is certainly enjoyable in short sessions, but it can turn into a dull parade of enemies too stupid to put up any real challenge in a fight, yet frustratingly too wary to sneak up on with a silenced pistol. Fortune ll's single-player game is a bit too straightforward and unpolished, with choppy animations, blocky graphics, and weird dead-body physics. Its online modes, though, add just enough to make it worth picking up. Playing Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag with real people offers unscripted (if somewhat no-frills) manhunting thrills. If you don't have Xbox Live, though, consider renting rather than investing.
Fortune 2 delivers buckets of gore, but you'll actually wanna play this sequel for reasons other than turning the opposition into amputees. I'm talkin' tough enemy A.I. and enough gameplay change-ups (like tricky stealth missions or being a helicopter's gunner) to make it feel less like your run-of-the-mill shooter. But would I choose to fight the good fight against bioterrorism over annihilating Wolfensteiifs undead Nazi legion? Nope. Fortune II doesn't have the same visual polish or addictive team-based online play of Activision's other wartime offering.
This game tries to be part Doom, part Medal of Honor, and part Tom Clancy, but it doesn't try very hard. The extremely bland graphics and inconsistent A.I. (some enemies have Superman hearing; others don't notice me shooting people five feet away) dog an otherwise average experience. And I certainly don't agree with Joe with regard to online: No way I'd play this plain-Jane, dumbed-down shooter online when I can fire up Unreal Championship or Wolfenstein instead.
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While something can be said for innovation, something can also be said for good old solid dependability. Being a big fan of the original Soldier of Fortune 2, I looked forward to the Xbox version of this title, as right from the get go I had heard rumors of many fixes being made to the multiplayer, correcting the sometimes horrendous multiplayer experience from the PC version of the game. Additionally, another game with realistic weapon effects, and a real world storyline is always worth a look to me, given how many Tom Clancy novels I read.
Right off, you should notice that the level appearance and design, while confusing at times, is good but not quite top notch. Buildings and props look realistic, but still have a rather low-res feel to them, compared to other games that manage crisp if somewhat spartan visuals. Aurally, there isn't much going on here. Music doesn't get in the way, and it sometimes seems that weapon sounds are a little louder than they need to be, but that isn't without adjustment.
At times, the gameplay can get a little tedious, switching between long moments of necessary stealth and furious gunplay. Sadly, it didn't seem like the hit location based damage was even as detailed as I'd seen on, as head shots didn't do much, and the only thing that tore off any limbs was a really close shotgun blast. While I'm not addicted to the gore, if it's one of the staples of the series (and let's face it, SoF1 did offer the goriest action around) I expect to be well treated with some chunkariffic action. As is commiserate with the previous title, the enemies do increase in toughness, making the end of the game somewhat frustrating.
Multiplayer was difficult to diagnose, as almost every time I leapt online the servers were nigh empty. However, being rather dogged, I managed to play quite a few sessions, and I found something there that surprised me. The multiplayer was well done, with multiple gameplay modes, and a code base that actually lets you fight an opponent, if sometimes it does seem like you're well tougher than you should be. There's also a random mission mode that sadly is more tacked on than a post it note about your next dentist appointment. This was my single greatest disappointment in the game, as the random missions were small, boring, and frequently displayed the downside of thegraphic engine.
In summation, I can only say that SoF2 had good, but lackluster, multiplayer gameplay. This is a very traditional realistic FPS, lacking in any serious innovation, relying on the same gameplay that's worked before. However, ultimately, I found it a bit boring, and I'd be hard pressed to pick this up in a bargain bin.