Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix

June 24, 2003

Being the FPS fan that I am, I had to get my hands on Soldier of Fortune 2 when it came out. The only thing that I had ever heard about SOF was the famous magazine, which bears the same name. Since I have not played the first SOF on PC, I was really excited to see what the next installment had to offer, especially since it was released on the Xbox.

Needless to say I look for several things in any FPS. There are different aspects in a FPS game that I look for. They are: graphics, weapons, AI, sound, and environmental destruction. I was eager to see what this game had to offer as an FPS compared to the recent release of other games in the same genre.

When the game begins you are playing the character of John Mullins, a respected combat veteran turned professional consultant. A private organization called “The Shop” contracts you for covert operations around the world to combat terrorism. The Shop has gathered intelligence that a worldwide terrorist group has developed a deadly virus, and is planning to spread the virus around the world without mercy. You have been called to eliminate the threat at all cost. The missions are in different environments such as jungles, urban locations, frozen tundra, deserts, and many more locations around the world. Each mission that you encounter is actually very long and drawn out. There are very few to zero objectives in each mission. The objectives can vary from rescuing a hostage, collecting intelligence, or just eliminating an entire army of terrorists. But 98% of the time you are just mowing people down. You literally have to destroy huge regimes of terrorists, which is actually quite funny. Honestly, the game is not very involved beyond eliminating mass numbers of terrorists. Because SOF fails to draw you into the game, the diversity of the game play does not go beyond massacring people and blowing things up. Just in case you get a little bored of slaughtering people in small numbers then you can up your difficulty in the settings menu, which by the way, will only increase the number of terrorists in a mission.

Activision, the creators of the SOF games, is known for helping gamers out during game play, for example in the earlier released hit Return to Castle Wolfenstein. In SOF’s case, hint icons will appear at certain times to inform you that you can operate or interact with an object. Right below your hint icons is your health and armor status bar, and on the bottom right of your screen is your weapon and ammo status bar. One thing I love about first person shooters is the amount of weapons you can carry at one time. SOF allows you to carry up to 10 weapons, and before each mission you can customize your arsenal to your likings. I personally enjoy playing any FPS that allows you to carry a weapon in each hand at one time. SOF gives you that freedom to carry two pistols, Uzi’s, or whatever else you can get your hands on. This aspect of the game really makes it a tad bit more fun.

The controls in SOF are very similar to the controls of RTCW. Your directional pad helps you scroll through your weapons and lean to peak around a corner. You also have a quick grenade button, just in case you feel like causing more damage. Basic movem
ts are done by using the toggle sticks forward, backward, and strafe, which can be inverted if you prefer. Both triggers are used to fire and zoom with scoped weapons. You have the option of changing the mode on certain weapons with the white button. For stealth purposes you can press down on the toggle buttons for crouching and proning. As a side note, stealth does not help you in any way, shape, or form in this game. You can also customize your controller to your personal preference of gaming. The responsiveness of your controller is very quick, sometimes reloading can be a pain but it’s done automatically when you forget.

This will then lead me to the games A.I. and its graphics. I have not been able to experience a FPS hat will allow me to continue to dismember a corpse once I have killed it. SOF will allow you to riddle the corpse with bullets or completely decapitate its head with your assault rifle. Very gruesome I might add. It’s fun to watch as you kill your enemy, and then proceed to see parts of his head come off as you shoot him at point blank range. And yes folks, blood will flow like a river in this game. Just to add a little bit more of knit-picking, all the characters wear the same outfits and they all look identical. This really annoys me because I believe that variety in a game is a must. It seems that the graphics engine used in this game was similar to that of RTCW. The games color is very cloudy and dark with very little detail given to the objects. The lighting effects in this game caused it many times to clip continuously, especially as I walked down a hall. Overall the lighting effects in this game are horrendous. Another quality of graphics and game play that I search for is environmental destruction. SOF
limits you to destroying several things in the environment, which I think is lame. The environment was also not smoothed out properly and not given enough detail.

As you get closer to walls and trees, they become exaggeratingly pixilated and lose even more detail. On the other hand, the weapons look absolutely realistic and very fine. Each weapon has its own slick style and finish that make it look very appealing.

SOF’s AI is not very satisfying at all. The enemy will run at you, screaming who knows what, with a huge cannon in their hands and once they are in point blank range they will crouch and proceed to fire at your knees. That’s just horrible AI in my book. After sniping an enemy from afar, another guy will run to the exact same spot where you sniped the last guy, only to meet the same fate. Thus killing about 10-15 guys in a matter of seconds. This process happens on every mission countless amounts of times – again the game’s AI is very annoying and very unsatisfying. It will take an enemy anywhere from 3-5 seconds to fire upon you once you have fired at them during a mission. It was obvious that Activision did not spend a lot of time on the game’s AI, maybe didn’t spend time on the game at all.

Double helix also fails to bring great sound effects to the mix. The music is rarely heard, the dialogue is extremely pointless and flat, while the ambient noise is dead. SOF was obviously not mastered properly and poorly mixed all around. Although, the only good aspect to the games sound is the weapons being fired. Every weapon being fired sounds like you are sitting next to a .50 caliber machine gun. I mean you literally have to turn down your television every time you shoot your weapon.

Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix failed to satisfy me overall wit

h a lack of involvement. Activision decided to rush into this game and leave out many elements of involvement including creativity, graphics, and a descent challenge. Since I have purchased SOF I have not seen a single soul on LIVE playing SOF. To make matters worse, the game is not multiplayer capable unless you system link. This then brings me to my conclusion; just stay away from the game, unless you are bored and have nothing else to play, but even still it will only add to your boredom. On the other hand, if you like first person shooters then by all means rent it and give a shot. Overall, I would have to say that SOF 2 was most certainly a big disappointment in my book.