SoF2's salute to guns, guts, and glory is even more noisy, gory, and entertaining than the original...
I expected more of the same from SoF2, and am happy to report that John Mullins’ worldwide terrorist safari features even more ragged stumps and avulsed jawbones. The scenarios in which The Shop’s favorite mercenary reduces an entire room full of hostiles into a gurgling pile of broken corpses usually involve some of the best duck-and-cover, spray-and-pray, or retreat-and-defend gameplay to grace the Quake 3 engine. SoF2’s excellent character detail extends beyond violent dissection to a genuinely impressive set of facial expressions, although the wide glare of everyone’s articulated eyes and the occasional oddly-bobbing noggin were evocative of a spooky marionette. Raven was also able to coax the game engine into rendering the most effective and detailed jungle thicket to ever to appear in a shooter (until Vietcong upped the ante on riotous foliage a year later, just before Far Cry completely stole the show the year after that).
SoF2’s settings and environmental effects were well-done in other areas, as well. The blinding snow of Kamchatka lent a special purpose to the wonderful OICW rifle’s infrared function. The rainy deluge in Prague and on the deck of the Seaward Star actually prompted a psychosomatic soaked-to-the-bone chill in me as Mullins trudged through it. Even the offices, labs, and other close-quarters indoor areas ripe for flashbangs and shotgun blasts were appreciably detailed, albeit with fairly commonplace furnishings.
Overall, SoF2 is very much like the original in terms of its gory gameplay. The inclusion of stealth sequences was a regrettable mistake, but total furtiveness was thankfully only mandatory during one of the early levels in Prague. The on-rails sequence that preceded it, as well as the helicopter ride during Mullins’ Colombia junket, were very satisfying, loaded with lots of noise and frenetic activity and things that go boom. Soldier of Fortune 2 isn’t very old, so it still holds its own among more recent titles. I recommend this game for any grownups who aren’t squeamish about stepping over the burst torsos and detached limbs of roomfuls of virtual people. Those who enjoyed the original may agree that the Raven team successfully transferred that title’s hyperviolent take on Chuck Norris-style paramilitary justice into a flashier engine with better enemy AI and edgier firefights.