Review by JW ACE

"Great Game thats held back by some issues."

Far Cry 2 is an open-world First Person Shooter set in Africa. The game holds no relation to the original Far Cry except the name and a few basic game play elements. This isn't really a surprise as the game has new developers at the helm. The game has its ups and downs, but a majority of the “downs” are technical issues. Some of the original content that was promised is not present in the final version, like predatory animals, but this game is still HUGE despite all this.

Graphics
The graphics are pretty damn good. There is a glitch here or there but generally very good and realistic looking. Tree's and grass blows in the wind realistically, the lighting is good, and rain is also well done. Make sure you have the latest drivers though, as I had some color glitches at first until I updated. The fire is also worth mentioning, like when you throw a Molotov; the fire slowly spreads out along the dry grass, and bends in the wind. Another nice touch is when a grenade explodes, the trees nearby will move or bend in a very realistic looking reaction to the explosion. In fact the only detail I can think off hand that was left out is water in your eyes while its raining.

The graphics in general are very top notch. Sure, Crysis still holds the crown, but this game comes close. Not to mention you don't need a server class GPU to run the game. I have an ATI 2900HD, which is going on 2 years old, and I played at high resolution with most things on High, with exception to anti-aliasing which was turned off. I got an average of 35-40 frames per second, not ideal, but it was fine since it never dropped below 30. Good job in general on graphics.

Sound
Sound is pretty solid. The guns and explosions all sound top notch, each car/truck sounds slightly different, and there are plenty of voices. A good effect is the scratchiness of the voices that are coming to you on your cell phone that don't have a good signal. Weather sounds a pretty good, especially the wind. The people who speak to you in English have a fairly believable accent, at least in most cases, there are a few that sound a little phony.

Controls
The controls are your basic FPS WSAD controls with a few extras. While driving, if your vehicle has a mounted gun, you how to hit the action key to switch between driving and the gun. Driving a boat and a car is the same control wise, but as you would expect, the larger ones are slower and take longer to turn.

Game Play
Far Cry 2 is penned as an “open-world” FPS. This is true, at least as much as it can be. The game is more like Grand Theft Auto than its predecessor buy the same name. While Far Cry you had one general goal, and it did not matter how you got there; Far Cry 2 on the other hand, its more like you choose the missions you want, in the order you want, and you advance on the main missions as you see fit. There isn't really a sense of urgency in anything you do to advance the story. That can be either good or bad, depending on how you like to play. Personally, I loved it and hated it at the same time. I liked the freedom of choice, but at the same time, at the end of some missions, it was basically “ok…what am I suppose to do now…might as well just continue with the main missions”.

The “main” missions as I call them are when you help out the Factions, which I will explain later, and this advances the story. There are also underground missions, which involve you taking items to a specific place in the world to get more medicine for yourself. There are assassination missions, which are self explanatory except they are assassinations outside of the main missions. Next, there are the weapon vendor missions, which will unlock new weapons for you to buy. Finally, there are “buddy” missions. These come in two flavors; there are missions that enhance your buddy status and ones that give you an alternate way of completing the main missions. There is also a small amount of “secret” missions as well, but more on those later. Basically, the buddy missions up your status and reputation, the underground missions keep you healthy, the weapon missions give you more options, and the others get you money.

Speaking of money, the currency in this great country is diamonds. You will get diamonds for doing various missions and for finding diamonds in the world. You have a hand held map that will show you where you are and where you need to go to complete your mission. It will also start to blink when you get near a diamond case that is hidden in the world. As you get closer it will flash more, and you will hear a beeping noise as you get really close. This is actually a great pastime thing to do while you are driving alone on your way to a mission that is not time sensitive. If you see the map flashing, stop and look around. Of course there are some that are damn near impossible to get to, at least on your own. The players who strive for completion can spend hours trying to find each one in the game, which is quite an amazing achievement. In any case, money is used to buy weapons, upgrades, and some other useful items.

One thing this game has plenty of is guns. There are 3 categories: sidearm, main, and special. You can carry your melee weapon and one of each category; you can also carry 2 types of grenades. Most of the sidearm weapons are pistols, but some small machine guns, like the Uzi are included, as well as IED explosives which are VERY useful. Almost all types of Sub-machine guns, shotguns, and sniper rifles fall under the main category. It seems odd that you can't have both a shotgun and a longer range weapon, but that is part of the game, you will need to get creative, picking a shotgun and one of the small machine guns for example. The special category contains all the “interesting” guns. Most of these are the larger types of guns, like heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers, and there even is a mortar! How you load up will have the biggest impact on how you play the game. Will you go in guns blazing? Take a Heavy Machine gun and a shotgun. Likewise, if you want stealth, better take the stealth MP5 and a silenced pistol.

Probably the best aspect of the game is that you can just hop on any vehicle or boat and drive it to wherever you want to go. The world you are in is huge, so you will be doing quite a bit of traveling. You can go on foot too, but this will take a long time. There are quite a few types of cars and trucks. There are regular cars, buggies, large trucks, at least 3 kinds of Jeeps, and a patrol truck. The later has a mounted gun, which will use quite often. As for boats, there are only 2 kinds you can use. First, there is the swamp boat, which is small and fast. Second, there is the fishing boat, which is much larger and slower. You will also encounter an even larger barge on one of the main missions, and that one is even larger and slower than the fishing boat. Finally, there is also an option to take a bus, which will transport you to another bus station without incident.

Now, you might be wondering what it means to get from one place to another “without incident”. Well, as you travel throughout this game, pretty much everyone you see is an enemy. Unless they are one of your known buddies, be prepared for a fight. This is where the game starts to loose some of its luster. First, no matter which faction you are working for, both will want to kill you. The official explanation for this is that you are a “loose kite” that can be cut if things go wrong. In other words, you are expendable, and no one can know of your involvement with the factions. Second, there are various boarder posts and security checkpoints that will also attack you on site. This is all well and good, except that once you leave the area and come back, they magically re-spawn. It would be better if the only res-pawn after a given period of time, as well as more realistic. Third, there is a time aspect, the sun rises and then the sun sets. This is generally handled really well, enemies react differently at night, its easier not to be detected, ect. However, you can literally go the whole game without sleeping. In the PC version, you can save anywhere, in the console version you can only save in “safe houses”. It is in the Safe Houses that you can rest for any give amount of time. Since you can save anywhere in the PC version, the safe houses are not as necessary. In other words, you don't NEED to sleep, but if you want to speed up time so its dark to give you a better chance at a stealth mission, then you can sleep.

Of course, that's not the only reason for the safe houses. They are usually where you meet up with your buddies, and you can usually find ammo, health, or transportation at them. The majority of the safe houses will need to be “claimed” the first time. As you approach one, there will be two to three guys there that you have to dispose of. On the bright side, you only have to do this once, and then the house is yours for the rest of the game. Probably the best feature of the safe house, which you will appreciate more as the game progresses, is the ability to put a weapon in a safe place. You have to purchase this feature, and it can only be used for one weapon at a time, but it is very useful. This way you don't have to go looking for a weapon shop, or pray that an enemy you encounter will be using the gun.

Finally, let's talk about the AI. Enemy AI is pretty damn good. Enemies don't charge you, they flank you, and they will come at you in groups if possible. At night, they seem to react more violently once they discover something is wrong. There is always one enemy that will run to the mounted gun, or a vehicle. While that seems like the logical choice, there are times where I found it too obvious. I killed the guy running to the Jeep, and then I see another guy heading toward the same Jeep for another easy kill. So, for the most part, the enemy AI is very well done, but it does have some issues. The buddy AI is also a little here and there. They will generally use whatever cover they can use, but sometimes they also do stupid things. As an example, one of my buddy's was pinned down with about 4 guys shooting at him with AK47's and he was under cover. Instead of staying under cover and either waiting for me, or waiting for them to reload, he stands up and tries to shoot one of the guys. Not sure if he succeeded or not, but he was then wounded. So again, good but has its issues.

Story
The story is simple, yet complex at the same time. You take on the role of a mercenary that is out to kill and collect on a man called the Jackal. This guy has been supplying arms to both sides of the civil war of this small African country, which does nothing but continue to fuel the war. It is not made clear if your ultimate goals are to help the people or to just get paid. Either way, you meet with other Mercs that have similar goals in mind; you can either help them out or not. This is what adds to the replay ability, is who you end up being friends with.

Whenever you do a “main” mission, your best buddy will almost always call you and ask you to do something different that accomplishes the main goal plus something personal they have in mind. Some of these missions seem rather stupid, but some make perfect sense and flow really well. The best case is where you have a mission to destroy a truck, but the buddy suggests that instead, you drive the truck to a garage of mechanics that double-crossed him and blow the whole damn place up. This takes care of your obligation to destroy the truck, plus you help your buddy get some revenge.

As mentioned before, you do get to pick which side of the factions you work for, but in order to continue the story; you will need to work for both of them. The idea being that you are “playing both sides” just like the Jackal. I feel that this throws the whole, choose your missions concept out the window. Later in the game you can choose who to kill and let live, but that's really the extent of the game responding to what happens in a mission. The ending, while not bad, certainly could have been better. Quite a few questions are left unanswered. You end up learning quite a bit about the factions and the Jackal himself, but you will still have questions once the game ends.

Far Cry 2 could have been a hands down Game of the Year competitor, if not winner, but there are just too many inconsistencies. The potential is high, and it will be interesting to see what the mod community will do. However, just because it is not the “game of the year” is not to say that it's not a kick ass game. It took me about 30 hours or so to complete, and I did not do ALL of the missions. It is a fun, solid shooter, its just not the next BioShock or Crysis.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/14/09

Game Release: Far Cry 2 (US, 10/21/08)


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