Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix Review

Soldier of Fortune 2 is one of those games that used to be really awesome. Seriously, it was a blast to run around blowing off people’s limbs with a shotgun and knifing dead people until their body parts fell off. The problem is that it’s aged almost as badly as the original Soldier of Fortune, and that means that it’s as outdated and out of place as parachute pants. Sometimes things change and we all move on.

First, I’m going to cover all of the good stuff about the game. It won’t take more than a paragraph, because the only good things about the game are the occasional stealth sequences and the GHOUL system that allows for gory, body-part-destroying kills. The stealth sequences are clunky and virtually worthless (which I’ll get into a bit later), but there’s an undeniable element of fun in turning a corner and putting a bullet in someone’s head before they set off an alarm. As for the gory kills, those are pretty self-explanatory; if you do enough damage to an area, body parts can go flying. It’s amusingly gruesome, but it really doesn’t add enough to justify all of the game’s flaws.

There are just so many flaws. For one, the whole game feels incredibly arcade-y, which makes the gory kills feel really strange. The movement of enemies is so unpredictable and untethered from reality that actually hitting them is a chore a lot of the time. There’s no sense of momentum or anything to judge their movement by, so you’re forced to quicksave/quickload constantly throughout the entire game.

Sometimes it’s hard to get over the fact that this is actually the good guy.

That’s hardly the only reason you have to quickload constantly, though. Enemies can, for no obvious reason, sometimes shoot through walls and spot you through opaque objects. The whole thing comes across as incredibly cheap and lazy. Another problem is that every enemy, even the lowliest gang member, has grenades. Flashbangs and normal grenades. I don’t know why it’s so hilariously easy to acquire grenades in Soldier of Fortune 2’s world (perhaps there are grenade vending machines), but you can pretty much be assured that a few grenades will be thrown if you don’t clear a room within seconds.

Of course, the stealth sequences force quite a bit of quicksaving and quickloading, as well. Despite a few great moments, they’re virtually useless; a guard who sees you for around one to two seconds will automatically sound the alarms and blow your cover, even if they’re nowhere near an alarm. For instance, if a guard walks through a door far away from everyone else and you shoot him in the leg with a silenced pistol, wounding him before finishing him off moments later, the entire base will psychically know that you’re there. Terrorists apparently have ESP. Even when you manage to utilize stealth by abusing your poor quickload key, circumstances outside of your control will eventually turn the mission into a shooting section like all the others, meaning you’re really no worse off just gunning down every enemy in sight without even trying for stealth in the first place.

Then there are innocents. Who are innocents? Sometimes it’s obvious, like when they’re your own soldiers or someone you’re saving. Other times it’s less obvious, like in the case of a bunch of people walking around with barely-hidden (they weren’t even trying) machine guns in gang territory. Every other person with machine guns up to that point had used them to shoot me in the head, but these were apparently innocents. You know how I know? Because killing innocents kills you. The main character John Mullins has some kind of sympathetic bond with innocents that’s so strong that his life ends whenever he harms one. At least, I’m assuming that’s why he instantly dies. In situations like the one with the gun-toting people, however, things become incredibly confusing. Why are gun-toting innocents walking around in the middle of gun-toting bad guys? They’re not attacking each other or anything so it’s reasonable to assume that they’re “bad guys,” and it’s far too easy to hit one in the middle of a firefight since they’re carrying automatic weapons just like the people you’re supposed to be shooting.

As for the music and graphics, “bland” hardly does them justice; they’re so generic and uninspired that they actually make the whole game even harder to get into than it already is. Maybe they were impressive once upon a time, but that time has passed—there’s no longer anything remotely unique or memorable about them.

Here’s what you should do:

Soldier of Fortune 2 Screenshots: Page 1

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Soldier of Fortune 2 Screenshots: Page 2

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