It must be miserable being a terrorist in Strike Force 2 – Terrorist Hunt. On day one, you’re given your terrorist uniform – red shirt, black trousers – and then you’re sent to terrorism island, where you do some terror by lounging in bamboo huts and watching from towers. Every so often, a single anti-terrorism dude arrives on your island (never in a team, always on their lonesome, cocky swine), and you have to queue up behind your mates to be shot. As you hover a few metres in the air, dying and with both legs twitching behind your head, you spot the anti-terrorism dude desperately jumping in an attempt to reach the gun and health pack you’ve left behind, also floating out of their reach. Then you spy the look on their face: a bored yawn mixed with frustration, as they realise that the £15 they drizzled down the drain could have gone towards Zombie Army 4 or Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
Oh, Strike Force 2 – Terrorist Hunt, you are terrible in so many fascinating ways. You’re even terrible in ways that we haven’t encountered in video games before. We genuinely love how when you kill an enemy when they’re in the process of firing at you, the puffs of smoke from their guns stop animating and become floating popcorn that you can walk over and look at. It made us a wee bit hungry. Less endearing was how, in one extremely long level, we were planting C4 in multiple fortresses with zero enemies inside them. The only conclusion is that the designers actually forgot to map anyone down in the level. It made blowing the fortresses up feel a bit rude, if we’re being honest.
You had us fooled, Strike Force 2 – Terrorist Hunt. Your name was reminiscent of Delta Force and you used the same font, so we thought that maybe – just maybe – you were made by the same people, or were making a spiritual sequel. You had a 2 in your name, which meant that enough people played the first; never mind that we’d never heard of the original, this was a game that must have fans. Plus your thumbnail on the Xbox Store had us moving through a tropical setting in a canoe with a mate in full ghillies. This was going to be Call of Duty, jungle edition, and we were going to be bringing a mate along for a wild, stealthy ride. We wouldn’t have been surprised if there was a zombie mode and battle pass.
Alas, no, you had other things on your mind. You’re a military shooter, sure, but that’s where the Delta Force comparisons stop. Strike Force 1 does exist, but it’s got a paltry seven customer reviews on Steam and it’s never made it to console before. And there are no canoes, ghillie suits, stealth or other players – you’re a solo campaign with a dozen levels, three terrain types (jungle, cave and underground base, but mostly jungle), one single enemy type, a range of guns that all feel identical except for the zoom of the scope, one single ‘go here and get X thing’ objective, and no additional game modes to speak of. There’s no multiplayer, co-op or zombie to pop in the noggin.
What you have got is a game that looks like it’s been put together last minute by a kid in his Design Technology class. It’s made of balsa wood and then been glue-gunned together, before being scribbled on with pencil crayons. It’s a last-minute scrabbling together of a coursework project that even your parents would struggle to say anything good about.
There isn’t a part of the game that’s not riddled with issues. For one, Strike Force 2 is an extremely easy game. There’s no difficulty setting, of course, so you’re stuck with it. The auto-aim (which is customisable) will default to the belly of any enemy that’s nearby. It’s so desperate to make sure you hit your enemy, that it will nail someone from the opposite end of the island, even with a shotgun, and will twist you in a 180 to target someone that’s behind you. It’s an over-eager friend who grabs the pad to show you how to play a game, rather than let you do it yourself.
But because it aims for the belly, anyone behind cover becomes invincible. The only threat in the game is if you – miraculously – end up in a situation where you’re surrounded by guard towers, as the auto-aim keeps nudging you down from a headshot, which is the only way to take down the tower guards (you can’t climb the ladders up to the towers, because that would mean a ladder-climbing animation). We got our headshot achievement two-thirds of the way through the game, and it wasn’t for want of trying.
Wandering round the island looking for enemies is a bizarre experience. The AI can spot you round corners, through foliage and from miles away. It doesn’t matter if you’re quiet as a mouse, they’ll know you’re there. But, to ensure this isn’t frustrating, the terrorists couldn’t hit a barn door gaffer-taped to an elephant, so they wildly fire in the air. That’s how you know where enemies are coming from: the terrorists desperately seek your attention by emptying their AKs. They may as well be shouting “Hey Dave, mate!” at the top of their lungs.
Get close to them and they still can’t hit you, but they will line up exactly to make sure your auto-aim doesn’t have to put in the effort of moving. Each will die with the same phrase of “we need reinforcements”, presumably because the reinforcements are in the back of the level shooting at seagulls to let me know they’re there. Like, leave me alone, I’m busy.
There are bugs, because of course. We had to reset the game because we’d managed to find a prisoner before the game wanted us to (it had planned a couple of red herrings and we neglected to stumble over them), and there’s a carousel of graphical issues. There are even plenty of design issues that make you wonder if they’re bugs or not: we still don’t know how ammo works in the game, as you can drop your gun, pick it up again, and have more ammo than you started off with.
And did we say that there’s only one enemy type? One! The sheer audacity of releasing a mid-budget game with a single red-shirt – not even a rocket trooper, terrorist-in-car or even terrorist-with-dog – is almost worth admiring. It’s an even more ballsy decision because Strike Force 2 likes to give you vast swathes of levels without a single enemy, as if walking through the poorly rendered environment is enough to give you Journey-levels of wonder. But no, the levels look like they have been copy-pasted from the N64 version of Rainbow Six, and the pace is excruciatingly boring and slow, as there’s not even a run button to pick up the speed. That’s if you’re lucky enough to avoid the invisible walls that halt your progress.
We’re in danger of making Strike Force 2 – Terrorist Hunt on Xbox sound so bad that you might want to buy it. There’s some truth in that, but the laughs are all in the first level. The rest of Strike Force’s routine is re-tellings of the same joke, and for £15 you could get more from buying a whoopee cushion and burning the remaining tenner. Undoubtedly, there are people who have completed the COD campaign and are looking around for the next shot of military head-shottage, but you need Strike Force 2 like a hole in your own.