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Review: Far Cry 2
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date: October 21, 2008
Genre: First-person shooter (FPS)
I am a fan of FPS titles, and Far Cry, with its non-linear form of play with the ability to go anywhere and do pretty much anything was very interesting.
Far Cry 2 takes this even further with an enhanced open ended play style and side quests in addition to the main plot, which is reminiscent of a few recent titles, like the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, and especially the GTA series.
What is Far Cry and why is it so popular?
In 2004, Far Cry was released and although it was inevitably lost to most people due to the commotion caused by Half-Life 2 and Doom 3, it was recognized as a great game by a few people. In NAG magazine, it was voted “The People’s Game of the Year 2004”, although Doom 3 won game of the year, and Half-Life 2, although clearly the favourite, was released too late in the year for consideration for that particular magazine. There were several spin-offs and console versions that followed over the course of the next few years, which were considered inferior to the excellent PC version. Then news of Far Cry 2 hit every magazine and website, and many people got excited.
You play the protagonist, a mercenary who travels to central Africa to take out an arms dealer known as “The Jackal”, who is responsible for arming both sides in a conflict that has gotten out of hand.
On the way there in a taxi with a driver with verbal diarrhea, you get infected with malaria, and this changes things a bit.
Next thing you know, you’re scooped up by “The Jackal” and subsequently left for dead in a town going under a massive shootout. After you get up and pick up a gun, you go downstairs and try to escape, only to fall down unconscious.
You then wake up in a slaughterhouse and start running errands for some guy and this leads you on your way to exploring the big bad world of Far Cry 2.
• Engaging Single-player
• Level editor
• Beautiful graphics, especially the environment.
• Lots of Guns!
Far Cry 2 CapsClick thumbnail to view full-size
When you start a new game, you are able to select your character. There are several to choose from but won’t really impact the game in any major way as far as I know.
The way you play the game is similar to GTA. Basically there are two factions, the APR and the UFLL, and they don’t like each other for the most part, although in the major towns, there is a cease fire that prevents them from attacking. You play as a mercenary, and everyone knows that mercs don’t pick sides in general; they just work for whoever pays the most. You can complete missions for both groups, and you will gain numerous benefits from this. Firstly, when you accept a mission from these groups, you will be paid in rough diamonds right then and there as they hand over the dossier with the mission briefing to you. Secondly, when you complete the mission, if you have any safe houses, they may be upgraded to include ammo and fuel dumps as well as armed vehicles sitting outside. Thirdly, you gain reputation bonuses.
There are also side missions that you can do. There are buddy missions which will usually mean increased friendship status with your buddies. There are also underground missions that require you to travel to a safe house and hand over passports in order to receive malaria medication in return, seeing as you suffer from the effects of it throughout the game. The other type of mission is the one you can pick up from the cellular towers that are in different places on your map, and you will speak to an anonymous individual who will pay you in uncut diamonds when the assassination target is eliminated and the mission is complete.
All over the map, you will find safe houses, where you can save your game and restock on ammo and health, and sometimes meet up with your ‘buddies’ who may help you out on missions if you choose to let them. You are also able to explore and find briefcases containing blood diamonds, as well as tapes that play recordings and let you delve into the mind of the psychopathic “Jackal”, an arms dealer and the reason you are here in the first place- you must kill him.
You have a huge map to explore, and speaking of which, you don’t need to exit to a menu to view the map. You can just press a button and it will pop up as you continue to play in real-time, even while driving.
On your travels, you will come across Jeeps, old cars, trucks, boats and even a hang-glider that can be commandeered to reach your objective.
Gun shops are where you can purchase new weapons, upgrades, and equipment that will make life easier out in battle. You will pay the owner with the blood diamonds that you get from either completing missions or finding them. You are able to see what is available to you by way of a catalogue on a computer, which is very reminiscent of Soldier of Fortune. You have four weapon slots. One weapon will always be your machete which you rarely ever use except to intimidate targets with. The others will be pistols, sub machineguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, explosives, machine guns, grenade launchers and rocket launchers. It’s a pity that you don’t seem to be able to purchase any body armour in this game though, which enhances the feeling of vulnerability.
There is a building next to the gun shop that acts as your weapon and ammo supply where you can rearm at any time. You need to do this frequently, as your guns can jam if their condition degrades too much. This will happen frequently when you pick up enemy weapons that look as though they’ve been dragged through the mud or used as a bat in a baseball game. Respect the gun people, respect the gun.
The enemies that you encounter on missions will belong to either the UFLL or APR for the most part, and they are a pain to deal with for the most part too. They aren’t particularly smart, but it’s the fact that they can take numerous bursts from assault rifles and light machine guns and they have the cheek to still fall down and refuse to die, even getting up and continuing to shoot you with their sidearm while moaning and acting very dramatic. I don’t care who you are; a long burst from a machine gun to an unprotected torso, up close is going to kill you before you hit the ground, end of story. I feel that the enemies are way too strong and almost immune to gunshots in most cases. Perhaps they’re too stupid to know how to die. A sniper rifle’s shot to the head still seems to get the same result though- instant death.
This goes for you sometimes as well, though. You can take a direct shot from a rocket launcher and still live to tell the tale, although you’ll most likely be treated to a very graphic scene where you pick the shrapnel out of your body. This is one thing that did impress me with the game, is that when your health drops to a low status, you will see the character pick bullets out of his legs, and straighten broken limbs. If your health drops to nothing, you will go through another scene where your buddy will come to rescue you and stand around while the enemies finish you off before you get a chance to heal yourself. Sometimes they get gunned down too, and if you choose to help them, this leaves you vulnerable to gunfire as well. If you don’t want to waste your time with them, they will die…forever.
What's the Score?
+ Large world
+ Sandbox, open-ended style
+ Plenty of Weapons, items and upgrades
+ Interesting touches that contribute to the immersion
- Poor AI sometimes
- Unrealistic damage to enemies
- Frustrating and difficult at times
- You will want to play this game because of its sheer graphical beauty, but it also has few new ideas to bring to the table, like realistic damage to the player character.
Playing Far Cry 2 feels like:
Soldier of Fortune 1 (2000)
Soldier of Fortune 2 (2002)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: SoC (2007)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky (2008)
Any Grand Theft Auto game
Lord of War- film (2005)
Blood Diamond- film (2006)
The graphics were no doubt a selling point for Far Cry 2 if you bought the game. Far Cry 2 uses the Dunia engine and if you thought that Crysis with its Crytek 2.0 engine was nirvana, then take a look at this game.
Most of the focus has been on the environment and the atmosphere. You will notice that bushes and trees move when you walk past and through them, and that the grass swaying in the wind is lit up by a blindingly bright sun, giving the ground a white tinge.
The weapon detail is pretty good, with the effects of wear and tear, like rust and dirt settling on the weapon when it’s past its best.
The enemies and other characters on the other hand aren’t that detailed and there were probably better examples in Crysis. As far as the player character goes, one will notice his legs and torso when driving along, but as soon as you try walking, he suffers the same disembodied camera effect, with no legs, but arms holding a gun. It would have been nice to see the character’s legs moving when operating the pedals and his hand on the gear lever because the vehicles all seem to be manual transmissions after all. I suppose this would make it difficult to hold the map at the same time though.
Marc Canham composed the musical score, and it fits the atmosphere quite nicely. There’s a mix of some classical instruments with more tribal tones, with drums and everything you’d expect to hear in a game based in the jungle.
There’s a relaxed beat that carries on when you’re exploring, which heats up into a frantic one when the action gets going.
The sound in Far Cry 2 is quite a treat. You will always hear something, whether it’s gunfire during a firefight or the cooing of doves and clucking of guinea fowl as you drive or walk along the gravel paths and through the jungle.
You’ll almost always be able to tell what the sound is and where it’s coming from, like the roar of a jeep as it chases you down after you storm through a checkpoint or the echo of a sniper rifle in the rocks.
You’ll also be able to hear the enemies talking and usually using foul language as they hunt you down, all in their overdone accents. Africans will speak their indigenous languages and white characters will speak Afrikaans, or English, and occasionally Russian or Spanish characters make an appearance as well. Your fellow mercs that help you out over the course of the game are from other places too.
Far Cry Franchise
• Far Cry (2004)
• Far Cry: Instincts- Xbox, Xbox 360 (2005)
• Far Cry: Evolution- Xbox, Xbox 360 (2006)
• Far Cry Instincts: Predator- Xbox 360 (2006)
• Far Cry: Vengeance- Wii (2006)
• Paradise Lost (2007)
• Far Cry 2 (2008)
• Far Cry 3 (2012)
• Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (2013)
There are two sets of controls that you will get accustomed to in Far Cry 2. The first is your usual firing of weapons, walking, running and interacting with items and the environment. The second is your driving controls, and some report that they are quite shoddy and hard to get used to.
True, the driving controls leave a bit to desire, especially the boats that you’ll be using on the rivers, but as far as the cars go, just looking at the things, all dirty, broken down and dilapidated jalopies that they are, you can imagine that they wouldn’t handle well. So the controls are fine, as long as you agree that they simulate a wreck with no ABS, power steering, air con, and sometimes, weak brakes.
I don’t like the fact that the jump button seems all but useless at times, and you have to struggle even to get up a flight of stone steps.
Also having to press the use key to manipulate the environment is painful at times, because you have to wait until the hand shows up in the centre of your screen as you frantically move around to make it pop up, only to walk away from the character you were talking to; great, now I have to listen to him talk all over again. Having to select a gun from your supply near a gun shop can get really frustrating when you keep picking up the wrong gun.
Observations and other comments
It’s quite embarrassing at times to see an African and hear him speaking fluent Afrikaans, obviously just an effect of the generic enemy types. I’ve never met an African who spoke faultless Afrikaans or English in real life, unless these enemies, untrained and uneducated, had previously taken language lessons before moving to central Africa to take up the life of a merc or a rebel.
I don’t think so.
There is a slight disappointment in the fact that it doesn’t continue the original’s storyline, and one wonders why they actually named it Far Cry 2 in the first place, but it’s probably because Far Cry is an established name; id Software did the same thing with Quake 2- it was initially going to be called something else and Quake 2 was just a working title.
Bugs and other issues
The game does have its share of bugs, and some serious ones at that. I’ve come across times when my gun wouldn’t even fire- and no, my weapon hadn’t jammed; I couldn’t switch to any other weapon either; and all this in the middle of an armed confrontation with two blockheads too.
This happened after a strange bug in Pala, where the doorman that leads you into the APR HQ after enthusiastically frisking you, seemed to have his weapons floating around and moving without the aid of arms. When he tried to open the door for me, I walked straight through it.
There’s also some clipping as well, and not just the door situation, but around the game’s map in certain sections, with disappearing tree trunks in the jungle among other anomalies.
What I think of it
The best way I can think of how to sum up Far Cry 2 is the phrase GTA; in this case it stands for Grand Theft Africa. It seems somehow familiar, and the concept of playing a hired gun is nothing new, but it’s like nothing you’ve played before at the same time.
It does get a bit repetitive in the long run, but if you like shooters then give it a try, because it’s good.
What do you think of Far Cry 2?
© 2009 ANDR01D