Sometimes a mediocre game can seem worse than an outright dud. When you're playing an obviously terrible game, you can usually put it safely aside and move on to something better. But mediocre games like Innerloop Studios' IGI 2: Covert Strike trick you into thinking that there might be something great just around the corner, only to repeatedly disappoint you. The previous game, Project IGI, was an above-average shooter when it was released in 2000, despite some serious shortcomings. But things have changed since then--more-sophisticated and more-stylish action games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, No One Lives Forever 2, and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell have raised the bar for action games. Yet Innerloop has slid under it with IGI 2, which is a shooter that might have seemed exciting if it had been released in 2000, but is mostly forgettable now
In IGI 2, you play as ex-SAS soldier David Jones, a covert operative now working for the fictional Institute for Geotactical Intelligence. You'd never know that at first if you didn't read the box and manual before playing, though. The game itself just throws you into the action without any decent setup or explanations. What exactly is IGI? Who is David Jones? Who knows? Who cares? The attempts at storytelling fall flat throughout the game. This might not have been the problem if IGI 2 were a straightforward action game, but, as your first mission briefing tells you when you start the game, "stealth will be vital." To be fair, IGI 2 at least gives you a visibility meter that gives you a good idea of how easily you can be seen without resorting to guesswork. You can toggle Jones' movement between running and walking, and you can also select from standing, crouching, and prone positions, all of which have an effect on how noticeable you are.
IGI 2 does have seem to have some basic mechanics to encourage interesting stealth-based gameplay, but in practice, the stealth elements are often tedious, frustrating, or implemented too obviously. All too often, you'll get the feeling that IGI 2's designers were following some sort some kind of action-game design handbook. You'll find levels where you'll obviously be required to sneak up behind a guard and incapacitate him, or levels in which you're clearly supposed to crouch behind a pile of crates to avoid being spotted by a security camera. In fact, IGI 2 may make you feel like you're jumping through hoops instead of pulling off dramatically daring feats, so you may be tempted to forget stealth and just start shooting things up.