Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix is a video game created by Raven Software, a sequel to first game Soldier of Fortune. It was developed using the Quake III: Team Arena engine. Once again, Raven hired John F. Mullins to act as a consultant on the game. Based on comments and criticisms of the original game, Raven Software developed Soldier of Fortune II to be a more "realistic" game, with tactical shooters like Operation Flashpoint and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six as inspirations rather than Quake. A sequel titled Soldier of Fortune: Payback, made by Cauldron HQ was released for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2007.
The series' focal point, graphic depiction of human bodily dismemberment, makes another appearance in Soldier of Fortune II. GHOUL 2.0, as the new engine was called, features 36 gore zones, allowing for increasingly detailed depictions of gore and carnage. A shot to the head could now blow away a chunk of scalp and expose the dripping brain beneath, and blown-off limbs revealed jutting bones and spurting blood. At the same time, the gore was fashioned more believably, stylistically, than in the original game. More firepower is required to dismember or inflict open wounds.
Designed as a tactical shooter, the player character is more vulnerable to enemy fire and while he can still survive more than a dozen bullets thanks to his body armor, a single explosion can kill him instantly. Additionally, weapon recoil makes automatic firearms increasingly inaccurate as they are fired, so if the player runs around firing continuously will have difficulty hitting enemies. Running into the middle of a firefight will usually get the player killed, and game play requires ducking behind cover and leaning around corners to take shots.
The enemy A.I. was significantly upgraded from the original title, and fires from cover and uses squad-based tactics rather than simply charging straight at the player.
Unlike the original game, there are no futuristic weapons or sci-fi elements. The most advanced weapon encountered is the OICW, which is based on a former weapon prototype of the United States military. Hit damage is more realistic; enemies do not absorb much fire before dying.
One highly advertised feature of the game was the Random Mission Generator or RMG, a feature that allows the player to create a terrain map at random. The RMG also allows the player to select a variety of different map factors, such as mission type (i.e. escape, infiltration, assassination, etc.), time of day, type of terrain (hills, snow, jungle, or desert), etc. In theory, this feature allows for an infinite number of map permutations to play. In practice, the randomly created maps tend to be more or less the same, since only the generic "wilderness" areas are generated, while the core checkpoints remained constant. Additionally, these maps are fairly empty and lack significant stylistic details. The player could also modify an option known as "Seed" to determine how the terrain was to be mapped.
To avoid being banned in Germany, the German version of the game had all in-game violence and gore removed and placed the story in a parallel universe which was populated by cyborgs. These changes were not accepted by the players' community and the game was unsuccessful.
Template:Original research The PC version of Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix received mostly positive reviews, however, there was some speculation that it had been rushed in order to avoid compromising sales of Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, another title released within weeks that was also based on the Quake III: Team Arena engine. As a result of its apparently premature release, parts of the game seem unbalanced, presumably due to a lack of extensive playtesting.
The stealth mode was criticized as overly simplistic, as alerting sentries will trigger alarms which cannot be turned off for the duration of the mission. This nullifies further attempts at proceeding by clandestine means, making sneaking and silenced weapons useless, and forcing the player to resort to a straightforward attack in order to complete the level. However, direct assaults are very difficult in certain situations, and engaging in firefights can be deadly. The only practical way to overcome this situation is to reload the level or start from scratch.
Upon release, the game contained many crippling bugs, including problems with performance and a tendency to lock up easily, which was fixed in the Gold edition. The Gold edition also boasted new content such as more maps and new weapons to use. This additional content was also included in the Xbox port.
The Xbox version was heavily criticized since it did not improve on any of the PC version's flaws despite an additional year of development time. It also had graphics far below what was expected for the Xbox, with bland textures and a low polygon count that led some reviewers to describe it as a "PC to Dreamcast to Xbox port".
In contrast with the first game, Soldier of Fortune II has a more diverse number of real-life weapons. Several of the weapons can have special attachments such as a laser sight. In the single player campaign, it is also possible to have mixed akimbo weapons.
Some weapons have add-ons like grenade launchers, Bayonets and Tac lights. These may be found either at random with the add-ons or selected at the mission start.
In multiplayer mode, there are five gametypes: team deathmatch, infiltration (reminiscent of Sega's game 005) , capture the flag, deathmatch, and elimination. Additionally, the 1.01, and 1.03 patches for the game introduced the demolition and VIP(Very Important Person) gametypes. Demolition most closely resembles Counter-Strike gameplay because of its round-based nature and focus on bomb planting/defusing. In demolition, elimination, and infiltration modes, gameplay takes place in rounds, and players cannot respawn when killed until the end of the round.
The game is paced like Counter-Strike with quick deaths, radio commands, places for cover and recoiled guns. Unlike CS there are respawns in most gametypes. This allows for a solid balance between tactical strategy and fast action that few games have been able to master, and has kept this game one of the top played online shooters (according to GameSpy) several years after its release.
The most popular game type is capture the flag on popular original maps such as mp_air1, mp_hk2, mp_jor1, mp_kam2, mp_kam3, mp_kam4, mp_kam5, mp_pra2, mp_shop2, and also on some third party maps.
Each person is equipped with a knife and one handgun out of three possible handguns (US SOCOM, M1911A1 or Silver Talon), one primary weapon (AK-74 with bayonet attachment, M4 Carbine with M203 Grenade Launcher attachment, M60 machine gun, Heckler & Koch MP-5, HK MSG-90, SIG 551 or USAS-12); and one secondary weapon (M3, M590, or Micro-Uzi). Players can also choose between grenades such as the AN-M14 Incendiary, M15 Smoke, M84 Flashbang or SMOHG92 Fragmentation.
Oddly, the cover of Soldier of Fortune II shows a commando carrying an MP5, however the gun was only added in the Gold re-release of the game.
The so-called "Gold Patch" provoked some controversy because it was essentially a redesign of a multiplayer engine that was only in need of minor patches. For this reason, a large fraction of players still use SOF II multiplayer with the silver patch.
The 1.03 version of Soldier of Fortune II, also known as "Gold", has the largest number of players due to the fact that it is the most recent release. Following it is the original, unpatched, version of the game, version 1.00. The least popular version is 1.01, which has largely fallen into disuse.
The patch needed to install version 1.01 may be downloaded from several sources, one being The software patch. The Gold Patch is available on Soldier of Fortune II files, a popular website for mods and maps. To change the game from 1.03 to 1.00, one must uninstall the game and reinstall it from the disc.
The theme of the sequel is germ warfare, as Mullins and his new partner Madeline Taylor travel to Colombia to investigate a viral outbreak in a small town, only to link it to a shadowy organization called Prometheus. The virus, called Romulus, is followed by a computer virus called Remus which is programmed to delete files on any computer in the world, in this case, files relating to Prometheus and Romulus, so an anti-virus cannot be formulated. Prometheus then plans to blackmail the G8 countries at a summit in Switzerland for billions of dollars. It is revealed throughout the course of the game that a mole inside the Shop may be feeding information to the terrorists.
- John Mullins: Born and raised in Southwest Oklahoma, Mullins served three tours in Vietnam, earning three Purple Hearts. He was also a member of the controversial Phoenix Program group created to assassinate high ranking Vietcong officers. Mullins retired from the military to become a "consultant" or mercenary, 12 years ago. He now takes jobs from the United Nations anti-terrorist group called The Shop. With a medium build, Mullins boasts strength and speed that few men possess. John Mullins is voiced by Todd Susman.
- Madeline Taylor: With the death of John's lifelong friend and partner, Hawk, The Shop looked long and hard for a suitable match to John's can-do attitude. Although a fully trained field agent, Taylor's specialty is human medical research, making her an invaluable ally in the fight against chemical and biological weapons. Madeleine Taylor is voiced by Iris Bahr.
- Sam Gladstone: A 62-year old bearded book store owner and part-time employee of The Shop. A Captain in Vietnam, Gladstone excelled at recon, later spending several years with the CIA. He owns the small enterprise known as Goldberg's Used Books. Behind the old bookshelves however lies a hidden lab filled with the latest technology and weapons. Sam Gladstone is voiced by Earl Boen.
- Dr. Piotr Ivanovich: One of the Soviet Union's top Biopreparat scientists, Dr. Ivanovich has worked on chemical weapons for a very long time. Unlike his cohorts however, he wants out. Ivanovitch has extensive knowledge in his head which certain terrorist groups would kill for, and he has passed most of this knowledge on to his young protege, Dr. Dmitry Sestrogor. Dr. Piotr Ivanovich is voiced by Alan Oppenheimer.
- Dr. Dmitry Sestrogor: A mysterious figure, Dmitry Sestrogor has been behind the production of many deadly bio-weapons which have been used throughout the world. This man, however, is no criminal mastermind. Held hostage by the ruthless Prometheus group, Dr. Sestrogor has been forced to develop deadly weapons in exchange for his life. Dr. Dmitry Sestrogor is voiced by Michael Bell.
- Anthony Michaels: The Shop's director, Michaels operates under the strictest of secrecy. For years he has pushed The Shop forward, hoping to bring terrorism under control. Michaels is an extremely powerful figure in his own right, being the head of an organization that owes no allegiance to any government and having a vast network of informants and agents across the world. Anthony Michaels is voiced by Cam Clarke.