Perhaps IGI 2's biggest problem is that instead of drawing you into a thrilling adventure, it makes you feel like you're just going through the motions in a generic shooter.
Sometimes a mediocre game can seem worse than an outright dud. When you're playing an obviously terrible game, you can usually put it safely aside and move on to something better. But mediocre games like Innerloop Studios' IGI 2: Covert Strike trick you into thinking that there might be something great just around the corner, only to repeatedly disappoint you. The previous game, Project IGI, was an above-average shooter when it was released in 2000, despite some serious shortcomings. But things have changed since then--more-sophisticated and more-stylish action games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, No One Lives Forever 2, and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell have raised the bar for action games. Yet Innerloop has slid under it with IGI 2, which is a shooter that might have seemed exciting if it had been released in 2000, but is mostly forgettable now.
In IGI 2, you play as ex-SAS soldier David Jones, a covert operative now working for the fictional Institute for Geotactical Intelligence. You'd never know that at first if you didn't read the box and manual before playing, though. The game itself just throws you into the action without any decent setup or explanations. What exactly is IGI? Who is David Jones? Who knows? Who cares? The attempts at storytelling fall flat throughout the game. This might not have been the problem if IGI 2 were a straightforward action game, but, as your first mission briefing tells you when you start the game, "stealth will be vital." To be fair, IGI 2 at least gives you a visibility meter that gives you a good idea of how easily you can be seen without resorting to guesswork. You can toggle Jones' movement between running and walking, and you can also select from standing, crouching, and prone positions, all of which have an effect on how noticeable you are.
IGI 2 does have seem to have some basic mechanics to encourage interesting stealth-based gameplay, but in practice, the stealth elements are often tedious, frustrating, or implemented too obviously. All too often, you'll get the feeling that IGI 2's designers were following some sort some kind of action-game design handbook. You'll find levels where you'll obviously be required to sneak up behind a guard and incapacitate him, or levels in which you're clearly supposed to crouch behind a pile of crates to avoid being spotted by a security camera. In fact, IGI 2 may make you feel like you're jumping through hoops instead of pulling off dramatically daring feats, so you may be tempted to forget stealth and just start shooting things up.
It's then that you'll learn that that IGI 2's disposable henchmen aren't exactly tactical geniuses. Sure, if you blow your cover and go in with guns blazing, they'll sound alarms and come pouring out of their barracks to hunt you down, and sometimes they'll even surprise you by using a flash-bang grenade to blind you before they attack. Many of them have incredibly good aim, but they're not especially vigilant otherwise, and when they first suspect your presence, they'll usually just run back and forth in predetermined areas for a while, as if a good jog might ward off any possible intruders. Apparently, the guards all skipped class while attending henchman school, since they'll gladly run one after another into your line of fire until the bodies are stacked to the ceiling. They'll also use such clever tactics such as yelling "Grenade!" to warn you before they throw one. In fact, they'll even start tossing grenades around wildly indoors--while you're still outside.
If you stand too long in view of a security camera, an alarm will likewise sound. Of course, you'll discover quickly that you can simply shoot out most cameras, and no one will be the wiser. Leaving bodies lying around (you can't drag them out of the way as in most games of this type) usually won't alert anyone either. About the only time you absolutely have to be stealthy in IGI 2 is in certain levels where massive hordes of guards can gang up on you from all directions.