Soldier of Fortune was one of the bloodiest games ever created. Of course, it was not only a matter of the blood, but also the deformable skeletons in the models. The GHOUL system allowed for some pretty amazing (and sick) things. When Soldier of Fortune 2 was announced, everyone was expecting a return to the kill fest; only this time around, we wanted even more action and violence. Well, they delivered violence at least. Keep reading for a look into how a game can suck in so many ways yet still be fun.
Soldier of Fortune 2’s story is quite good for a video game. In fact, it would be great for a summer action movie. The bad guys, old Russian scientists (isn’t it always) develop a nasty virus and it is up to our hero to stop them. However, there are several twists and several very interesting happenings during the story that make this game worth playing simply for that. Unfortunately, the best story in the world couldn’t save this game from itself.
Poor animations, horrible textures, retarded AI, and a messed up GHOUL 2 engine sour what should have been a wonderful, mindless, violent game. Damn them. Like so many other reviews; ‘Where should we begin? How about graphics.’
Graphics. I like graphics. Graphics should be visually pleasing (‘I am the visualist, I see things visually’). SOF2 is not graphically pleasing. The textures are bland and often repeated. The grass and trees are all completely 2-D, almost as if the developers just didn’t care at all about it. The player models suck ass. The faces and clothes look worse then they did in Half-Life. The faces actually remind me of un-textured Poser faces. Everything was very pixilated, the smoke was blocky and light sources were horrendous. What is so painful is that I know that more was possible but was not done.
As a little subset of the graphics, we are going to discuss the Ghoul II engine that was supposed to make this game incredible. The Ghoul system is like the Brazilian soccer team. They are either so fucking incredible that you sit in absolute awe watching them play, or they are not that good. Okay, bad analogy. Take the high of the Brazilian team and bring it down a few notches. Then take the low and drop it to the basement, and you have the Ghoul II engine. Occasionally it looks wonderful, with arterial spurts and limbs tumbling. Other times, guys will scream after you have blown their head off. Or there will be a solid sheet of unmoving blood that just hangs in place of the removed limb.
To continue this trend of craptacularness, we are going to take a look at the AI system. The AI is horrible. Sure, they will throw grenades back at you. And that is entirely scripted and involves no actual AI work. The AI does not have to see you. Do not try and be a sneaky bastard, because it doesn’t work. There are times that you can literally walk right up to a guy from the side and he will never notice you. Other times, you can be motionless and prone in the rainforest and guys will start pegging you from several hundred yards away simply because they walked within their detection range. This makes the game incredibly frustrating, as you can be in a position where it is literally impossible for you to shoot them, yet they can still kill you.
The only way that I was able to have fun with this game was to turn on god mode and run through with the auto-shotgun (the most powerful gun in the game) or the M4. It literally became a chore to play it. Games should not be a chore, but this one was, simply because so much of the game was painfully bad. What is the upside to this game (and yes, there is one)? Multiplayer.
I remember downloading the multiplayer demo and just falling in love. It was a small, simple level that only had 3 game types available, but … damn was it fun. Of course, you could turn on the hard 3-d shadows and they would show though walls, floors, boxes, and whatever. But that didn’t matter, because it was fun. I was able to forgive the game for its flaws simply because I knew that I could jump on a server, grab the grenade launcher and blow off some guy’s legs. I haven’t played as much multiplayer since I got the full game, simply because the single player was so excruciating (in case you’ve missed it so far, the single player really, really bothered me).
What should have been a nice summer action game got released as a steaming pile of crap. There were a few nuggets of gold in it, but the bad outweighed the good enormously.