||Sep 21, 2003
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A "kill'em-all" first person shooter with a few gallons of gore tossed in.
I was a big fan of Soldier of Fortune. That was one of my favorite games for quite some time. I loved the way Raven pulled no punches with it, showing us the bloodiest first person shooter to date. But beside the blood, there was still a fun game to it, even if it always amounted to you taking down a hundred or so terrorists. Whether I wanted a first person shooter to play through, or a good tool to take my aggression out on, Soldier of Fortune was a great game to play.
Its sequel is slightly different, but the idea stays true: kill everything and get real bloody. But man, did Raven ever take it to the extreme. Hands down, Soldier of Fortune II is the most violent game I've ever heard of. Grand Theft Auto? Carmageddon? They don't hold a candle to this game. This is the only game I've ever played that's made me at all squeamish. The realism in gore in this game is astounding, even if the engine is slightly dated. Yes, this is a good thing. We need a bloody tool to take our frustration out on. And what better way than blowing a guy's guts open from a close range shotgun blast? Or whacking off three quarters of his face from a sniper rifle? Or just pumping him full of lead and watch him fall to his knees, bloody gushing from his wounds, collapsing to the floor?
Besides the gore, there are also some really interesting twists in the ol' first person shooter genre to be found here. For instance, the AI opponents have quite a few tricks up their sleeve, and any battle could conclude in any sort of way. Bad guys will take cover, as per the standard, but they will also jump out shooting and run back to their cover, or sometimes they'll just stick their gun out and fire in your general direction. They'll jump over rails to come get you, they'll throw grenades back at you, and they'll choose the best weapon for different confrontations. They'll throw smoke grenades and flashbangs to cover themselves, and they'll throw frag and incinerary grenades over obsticals to get at you. Battles always had a fun twist to them, forcing me to think on my feet, and it definitely helped create an immersive experience. I remember shooting the gun out of a soldier's hands, and watch him go straight for his sidearm. Since I was out of ammo, I ran around the corner to reload. When I came back, the soldier was reaching for the gun he had lost before. It was this sort of thing that made the game more than just FPS+extreme gore.
The locales you visit are diverse, which take you all over the globe, above and under the Earth, even back in time (in a flashback, that is...heh.) One in particular that got a lot of attention was the Columbian jungle level, which is very well done.
Unfortunately, despite the interesting AI tricks, the extreme blood and varied levels, the game just didn't appeal to me. Now, close combat was great. Especially with the shotgun. But, really, once you've seen every type of death animation and gore splatter, it just gets old.
The AI tricks is neat, but the AI can be pretty damn dumb, too. They'll often charge at you right in the open without shooting, or just shoot the wall instead of aiming at you. It's not uncommon for enemies to just get stuck in the wall, either. And while they can be worthy opponents at times by themselves, they have no consideration for their fellow teammates. They'll throw grenades right into a mass of their own men to get at you.
The story is just plain stupid and doesn't even compare to Soldier of Fortune's original plot, nor does it have anything to do with it, save that your buddy from the first game is still dead. SOF's story wasn't exactly an award-winning masterpiece, but the elements in the story were great, I thought. It felt like a campy action flick, and it almost was. But Soldier of Fortune II seems to try to pass itself off as some pseudo-realistic plot that could happen in today's world. They even took away all the cool sci-fi weapons (AND my Desert Eagle!) from the first game and replaced them with more "realistic" weapons. Boo!
The voice overs are okay, but the dialogue is as bad as the story. "Ha ha ha! I did it for the money, of course!" "You're a mad man!" "A mad man? Perhaps...NOT! Ha ha ha! Die, Mullins!" Talk about dumb. Nothing killed the immersion more than a cutscene in this game.
The game comes with a "random mission generator", but it's downright poor. It only creates outdoor environments, and, quite frankly, close-combat was the only fun part of the game. A nice feature, but it's better to just play through the game.
Worst ragdoll effects in any game I've ever seen. At least they tried. Usually, you'll shoot a guy, he'll go through his death animation, slump to the ground, and suddenly have a short seizure, afterwhich his body will be contorted in a way that looks like he was thrown halfway through whatever he's touching. It is rather humorous, though.
The boss battle(s) sure didn't compare to the difficulty of the first game's, either.
The Bottom Line
While I was impressed by the tricks the enemies could pull, as well as entertained by the violence and the always entertaining shotgun, the game just falls apart in too many places to really recommend to anyone. If you want to take your aggresion out, oh I'd definitely suggest this, but not above Grand Theft Auto or Carmageddon. At least those games are fun in more ways than just blowing people to pieces.