Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Have I played Soldier of Fortune 2? To be honest, I don’t think I lasted longer than the first mission in the full game’s singleplayer campaign. But the demo! The demo and its capture-the-suitcase multiplayer mode and a level set in Matrix-aping high-rise offices and rooftops – I played that for dozens of hours.
In multiplayer, Soldier of Fortune’s defining feature was toned down. Bullets still left gaping wounds upon their targets, but the mutilation wasn’t quite so granular. Faces would explode into perhaps three distinct pieces instead of twelve. Yet the system – called GHOUL 2.0, which makes me cringe now – felt oddly much more meaningful in multiplayer in ways I’m not sure I can explain without sounding ghoulish myself. In brief, I liked that I could fire at someone from far away, be uncertain as to what exactly happened, and then amble over to the grim tableau to find out. ‘Oh, I hit him in the leg twice, then the shoulder.’
The singleplayer felt like grotesquely deleting parts of 3D models, but the multiplayer felt like the firefights mattered. Or at least, your bullets and throwing knives did. The result was a lot of tension when it came to defending or capturing that suitcase and making a sprint to escape.
As far as I can tell, there’s no way to buy a digital copy of Soldier of Fortune 2 anymore, and even the grotty, budget sequel Payback is nowhere to be found. Maybe I’ll just run around the demo again, alone.