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Title: Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix
Developer: Raven
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November, 2001
Date: 06.24.01
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Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix is Raven's highly anticipated first-person shooter sequel to 1998's Soldier of Fortune. You resume your role as John Mullins, a world-renowned mercenary, who works for a mysterious security agency called the Shop. Stopping terrorist activities, assasinating various targets, and generally causing lots of mayhem is par for the course. Soldier of Fortune was infamous for it's over the top violence and was considered extreme even for a first-person shooter. The same level of violence can be expected in the sequel thanks too the GHOUL II system. This second generation system is similar to the first. GHOUL II allows multiple areas of a character to be targeted and affected by objects; this now changes the number of "hit-zones" on a character from twenty-six to thirty-six. Imagine limbs and entire sections of a soldier's body being blown off from enemy firepower. This aspect takes video game violence to an even more gruesome level. The GHOUL II system can be used in other areas of the game as well. Add-ons to weapons such as silencers, scopes, and bigger clips can be added to your weapons.

Graphically, Soldier of Fortune II is intensified. SOF used a modified Quake 2 engine, while the sequel uses the powerful Quake III Team Arena engine. Raven is also implementing ROAM technology for Quake III Team Arena to add gigantic outdoor environments. Literally miles of terrain are now fully explorable. The level of detail is incredible; in fact, the graphics are so good that individual blades of grass blow in the wind. Characters even have eyes that move realistically in their sockets. Snow, rain, and wind will effect the environment and play apart in specific missions.

Game play wise, SOF II corrects some of the bugs from the first game. The new ICARUS scripting system allows for multiple ways to complete mission objectives. Weapons are now geographically specific. Obviously a terrorist from the Middle East is not going to use an American made rifle; they would more likely use a weapon native to their area like an AK-47. Unlike it's predecessor that claimed to be a realistic combat game but ended up being more action based, SOF II focuses on actual combat. You will have to use your surroundings to gain an advantage on the enemy. Either you take the direct shoot 'em up route, or you take the stealthy knife in the back approach.

Soldier of Fortune II promises to be a great game. With all the new innovations, the Quake 3 engine has been pushed to its limits. The system requirements will be high, but the payoff is immense. With a company like Raven Software developing it, you know it will be first-class.

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