# of Players:
Xbox Live (online play, content DL), HDTV 480p
A few years ago, a shooter appeared on the PC market that boasted a
“realistic body model” and “realistic blood and gore.” The original
Soldier of Fortune claimed to have both of these features,
but only really gave the gaming world models that would lose limbs
and extreme gore. The game received enough success to insure a
sequel, thus the world returns to the series with Soldier of
Fortune II: Double Helix.
plot in this game seems almost cliché for first person shooters. You
are John Mullins, mercenary, and your task is to prevent a terrorist
group from releasing a biological doomsday virus. The game takes you
all across the world through over fifty missions to achieve this
goal. Sadly, there is very little mission variation in this game.
Perhaps I’m spoiled with games like Deus Ex—where you have
multiple ways of performing a task—and I’m asking too much. The
missions in Soldier of Fortune II can pretty much be summed
up with “find person/object X, kill everything else.” Arguably,
every FPS falls into this trap, but Soldier of Fortune II
could have done so much more. Perhaps they could have worked more of
an emphasis on stealth, or provided several ways to complete levels
ala Deus Ex. Regardless, I just don’t like the idea of being
able to walk through an entire game, guns-a-blazing and have very
little problems winning. I want some sort of challenge, be it
intelligent enemies or multiple methods of going through levels.
This type of gameplay worked fine when First Person Shooters were
first emerging, but just simply falls short now.
In all honesty, the single player campaign is a drag to even try to
play through. The level design at first seems pretty good, but after
a while, people begin to notice that the levels just start to look
mediocre. Granted, they aren’t anywhere near the atrocity that was
the level design in Oni for the PS2, or the strikingly
similar rooms present in Halo, but the levels in Soldier
of Fortune II do nothing to really drag you into the world.
Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix
is built on a modified Quake engine, and it really shows.
Personally, I generally enjoy games built on the Unreal
engine, but I do enjoy several games built on the Quake
engine. However, instead of modifying the engine and bringing the
graphics up-to-date, Soldier of Fortune II looks exactly like
what it is: a year old port of a PC game that didn’t look amazing to
Weapons are this game’s strongpoint. Soldier of Fortune II
does what few games do; provide tons of real weapons. Not only can
you have standard pistols and assault rifles, you have access to
everything from AK-47s to the high-tech OICW to dual wielded Uzis.
All pistols can be dual wielded, which is a really cool feature that
few games utilize. When talking about this game’s weapons, one
cannot forget to talk about the damage they do.
Gore does not even begin to describe this game. Throughout the
course of this game, players will see more body parts flying around
than in a bad zombie movie. Like its predecessor, Soldier of
Fortune II features a character model system that takes damage
to individual body parts. Name a body part and you can hit it. Legs,
arms, hands, feet, and heads can be taken off the body with enough
shots (or a well-placed shotgun blast). Enemies react when they lose
body parts, so they don’t keep coming after you like zombies. Hit a
guy in the hand, and he’ll stop shooting and grab at it. And yes, I
know you’re wondering…you can hit enemies in the groin and they do
My reaction to this type of damage style when I saw it in Soldier
of Fortune II is the same as when I saw it in the first game.
It’s a cool gimmick, keyword being gimmick. While the pure shock
value of the sadistic depictions of people being mutilated in this
game will drive you to play it for a little while, this shock value
wears off fairly quickly. The story isn’t good enough to hold up on
it’s on, like Rainbow 6, and the gameplay just gets boring
after a while.
Soldier of Fortune II offers a quick-mission mode featuring a
random map generator. I personally loved this feature and feel that
it gives the title some sort of redeeming quality. Granted, it
basically comes down to killing everyone including a specific person
or killing everyone and accomplishing an objective, but it allows
you to get a feel for the game and experience the different weapons.
This game is pathetic in the multiplayer department. There are no
local Xbox multiplayer options, so that kills any chance for
cooperation modes or verses mode. You can support up to 12 players
using system link, but considering that system LANs are not really
used often at all makes this an empty feature for most players.
Xbox Live multiplayer could make this game worth all of the boredom,
but it fails. Sure, you get the various standard modes (deathmatch,
teams, objectives), but the online experience is subpar at best. I
experienced ungodly amounts of lag that reminded me of trying to
play Counterstrike with 20 other people on a 33K modem. Every
session I played was littered with massive lag problems, regardless
of the time of day. Even if you take my experience into account, the
multiplayer options still cannot compete with other first person
shooter Xbox Live titles, like Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
No local multiplayer options
repetitive gameplay style
Unless you have a perverse fascination with gore and gratuitous
violence, skip this title. Some may ask, “What about Grand Theft
Auto 3? That has gratuitous violence and gore!” Yes, it does,
but it also has substance, something this game is severely lacking.
This game actually bored me to death. If it would have had local
Xbox multiplayer options, it may have been salvageable. However, I
could only place this title as a rental-at-best. It isn’t a terrible
product overall, it just seems like a generic shooter with a gimmick
that wore off after about thirty minutes.