Review by FeralBerserker
"A far cry from Far Cry"
The original Far Cry seemed to blow up into a really successful title, which I found to be a surprise since I felt it was a very sub-par FPS with only the slightest hint of free roam. Next came Crysis, a sad attempt at a futuristic Far Cry that implemented human exo-skeletons to add some flavor. By this point of disappointment it seems foolish for me to even try Far Cry 2, but Ubisoft Montreal took the reigns and showed Crytek a thing or two. Whether it's new developers that made this game so different than the other two or not, this game definitely is a far cry from Far Cry.
Gameplay Mechanics - 7/10
Far Cry 2 is a free roaming FPS that labels itself "the revolutionary FPS," but I find this highly disagreeable. The game utilizes many features that have been seen time and time again, and introduces a few new and unique features.
Throughout the course of the game you'll be able to take missions to advance through the story or to make additional money in the form of rough diamonds. Main missions net you the most killing and afford you a large payment of diamonds. In addition, there are assassination missions, convoy missions, buddy missions, and underground missions.
Assassination missions can be triggered by activating radio towers, and will net you a good amount of rough diamonds in exchange for the assassination (via whatever method you desire) of a target located randomly throughout the world of FC2. Convoy missions are taken at the weapons shop, and consist of destroying a convoy of about three vehicles in order to unlock new weapons for purchase at the weapons shop. Buddy missions are taken at the local bar, and generally have you retrieving a certain item from a random location in order to return it to the bar where the mission was taken. Buddy missions only reward you with increased friendship with whichever buddy granted the mission, and also increase your reputation. Finally, underground missions are done for the sole purpose of collecting malaria medicine, and consist of travelling to an underground (it's a freedom fighters organization, not missions under the surface of the Earth) location and clearing enemies from the area, thus allowing you to deliver travel documents.
More or less, these missions are what you'll be doing for the entire course of the game. To aid in your travelling you can utilize automobiles, boats and occassionally a hang glider. There are only two different types of boats; swamp boats and fishing boats. Automobiles come in a wider variety, and range from a two door car to assault trucks with mounted M249 SAWs. When vehicles are damaged enough to start smoking you can repair them with your one-size-fits-all ratchet (which they call a wrench) by going to the engine and pressing the action key. This takes time, but alleviates a lot of problems. Likewise, if your vehicle rolls onto it's roof you can get out and push it back onto it's wheels, which you will be very grateful for.
Along the roads and rivers in this ambiguous African country, you'll discover guard posts, patrols, safe houses, hidden briefcases (with bonus rough diamonds in them), and other locations that come in a small variety and are used primarily for doing missions. Guard posts house a handful of guards, mounted machineguns, and some type of supplies (ammo, explosives, fuel, or first aid kits). Patrols are found often, and usually consist of enemies in assault trucks patrolling the area just waiting to destroy the pacing of your game (which they'll do to no end). Safe houses can be unlocked by killing the guards in their immediate proximity, and can be used to pass time, save your game and resupply. Which supplies are available at safe houses is determined by your main plot progression. Hidden briefcases can be (easily) found using your GPS tracker, and award you with 1 to 3 free rough diamonds. These briefcases are located randomly throughout the game and come in absolutely excessive amounts, ensuring that you'll have no need to find all 200+ of them.
The other locations mentioned above can range from junkyards to post offices, and allow you to use your monocular to reconnoitre the area. There's no reason to explore these areas unless they are attached to a mission you are currently on, which is sad as these areas are the funnest to explore. Though, throughout the course of the game you'll have an opportunity to explore all of these locations if you take all the missions available to you.
Now, let's talk about the combat mechanics. These mechanics aren't anything particularly special, and are more or less the generic mechanics of any FPS. You can sprint, aim with your iron sights, toss grenades or molotovs, and crouch. In addition, you can crouch from a sprint, allowing you to effectively use a baseball slide in order to slide into cover, which can be very helpful. When you are damaged you will need to stick yourself with a syrette to heal. This takes time and a syrette (which you can only hold so many of). If you let your health get too low you will also have to either remove shrapnel or bullets from your body, wrap yourself with gauze, or cauterize some of your wounds. Like using a syrette, this takes time to do, and is best done when you have good cover.
The main character can carry his machete, a primary weapon, secondary weapon, and a special weapon. Also, you can carry an amount of ammo, syrettes, grenades and molotovs which is determined by what difficulty you play on. The way weapons are grouped into categories allows you to have a wide variety of equipment setups. Primary weapons consist mainly of assault rifles and shotguns, but you can also have a grenade launcher or some sniper rifles in your primary slot. Secondary weapons consist mainly of pistols, but can also include SMGs (an Uzi or Mac-10), a flare gun, M79 grenade launcher, or Improvised Explosive Devices. Special weapons include heavy machineguns (like the M249 SAW), a sniper rifle that shoots darts, a flamethrower, an RPG or rocket launchers. As you can see, this allows you to pick a kit that fits your preference nicely.
Additional features of the gameplay mechanics are the inclusion of gun jams, destructible environments, and fire propagation. As a gun is used more and more it becomes visibly dirtier. The dirtier a gun becomes the more likely it is to jam. When a gun jams you will have to spend the time and effort to unjam it. Sadly, this rarely happens once you've utilized the weapons shop and fixing a gun jam consists of pressing the reload button. In addition, enemy weapons never jam despite the fact that they are almost always in terrible condition. As far as the destructible environment goes, you'll be left wanting yet again. Most often you'll only notice the destructible environment when using explosives or utilizing bullet penetration (through flimsy wooden pallets and such). Fires can be troublesome as the game takes place in the dry season in this ambiguous African country. Molotovs, flamethrowers, RPG back-blast, flare guns and anything else that produces a high quantity of flames can propagate a fire. Fires spread quickly, obscure your vision and your movement as well as dealing damage over time. While this can be a troublesome thing from time to time, it can also be extremely useful when you seek to control it.
Due to the availability of free roam you can utilize stealth or assault tactics. It should be stressed to no end that stealth is nearly worthless in FC2 (at least on the Hard and Very Hard difficulty). While your main character is supposed to be trained as an assassin, he apparently was never trained in CQC knife techniques. As such you can sneak up on an enemy and cut them with your machete to kill them. Sadly, your main character will never cut their throat, and allows them ample opportunities to scream out in pain, thus defeating the main purpose of using the machete. Likewise, when shooting enemies with a silenced weapon they will almost always get to scream in pain. Strangely enough, you'll have to aim very carefully to labotomize your victims (achieved by shooting them in the center of their forehead) in order to prevent their screams (yes, they will even scream if you shoot them in the voice box or windpipe).
The weapons shop can be used to purchase new weapons and upgrades with your rough diamonds. Any weapons you purchase will be spawned infinitely at any armories (located directly next to any weapon shop) and will come in perfect condition. After purchasing a weapon you can additionally get an accuracy and reliability upgrade for it, which are both self-explanatory. Also, you can purchase bandoliers and kits upgrades which allow you to carry either more ammo, syrettes, grenades or molotovs. You can also purchase a camo upgrade, and repair upgrades for the various vehicles of FC2 (which allow you to repair them quicker and improve their defensive capabilities).
There are a bunch of cool little things about Far Cry 2 that you will rarely get to see, and even more rarely get to use to your advantage. For example, you can blow up ammo supplies to start some very dangerous fireworks and skewer wounded enemies with your machete (a la Dark Messiah of Might and Magic) just to name a couple.
All in all, there aren't too many unique or revolutionary things in FC2's gameplay mechanics. Furthermore, the fact that nearly (or over) half your time playing this game will be spent travelling in vehicles really puts the boot to the gameplay mechanics rating.
Miscellany - 2/5
One thing in dire need of mentioning is the game's terribly thoughtless enemy respawning. I'm not entirely against enemy respawns, in fact it can be a really great thing in some games. Sadly, the respawning in FC2 was really terrible. Enemies at guard posts, patrols and other locations will literally respawn after two minutes on certain occassions, and more rarely but not unheard of, they will respawn in even less time. This means that if you clear a guard post and drive just a dozen meters out of the guard post, then turn around because you forgot something you might have to clear the entire guard post again. While this can seem appealing (since there is such a minimal amount of killing in the game), you should realize that there are about 57 guard posts throughout the game. This means you'll constantly be dealing with enemy respawns, and gaining absolutely nothing from it. While it initially seems fun, once it's pointlessness is realized it will only frustrate you.
The day and night cycle was a big selling feature for me. I love day/night cycles, especially when you can pass time until darkness envelopes the area and go around stealthily killing anyone you desire. Sadly, because of the broken stealth system you can't really utilize the day/night cycle to it's full potential. I should say, though, that travelling around patrols and guard posts at night saves you a lot of time and hassle. To me, the day/night cycle makes me even more frustrated in regards to enemy respawns. Since the days passed in the game are actually recorded, it seems like it would have been simple enough to wait one full day before respawning enemies in guard posts and whatnot. This would fix many pacing issues, yet it wasn't done. These two things coupled together make me wonder what Ubisoft was thinking. My only guess is they realized the massive amount of downtime in their game, and tried to compensate with pointless enemy respawns.
There are four different difficulty settings in FC2, which is greatly appealing to me. In addition, all four difficulties are available from the get-go. You won't have to play through the game on normal to unlock hard, then play through on hard to unlock very hard like in Mass Effect (a self-defeating system, as intricately knowing the terrain and game mechanics diminishes the challenge presented by harder difficulties). In addition, the Very Hard difficulty (called Infamous or something) actually proves fairly challenging for hardcore gamers. You'll be able to carry substantially less ammo, syrettes and grenades/molotovs, in addition to taking a great deal more damage per bullet. Also, enemy's won't just be magically enhanced (i.e. having god-like reflexes and infalable accuracy, or be gifted with automatic night-vision and other magical abilities) to increase the difficulty. This is a pretty strong selling point, in my opinion.
Enemy AI is both great, and terrible. You'll be spending a lot of time in the bush in FC2, and will no doubt notice the enemy AI's uncanny ability to see through thick foliage in the middle of the night. Likewise, enemies will occassionally (but not always) magically know your position; this includes when you're using silenced weapons or moving stealthily out of the enemy's line of sight. Other than these two flaws (and the overwhelming amount of high expense explosives [RPGs, mortars, etc.] the enemies use in the second half of the game, apparently they are the wealthiest armies in the world to be firing such things at a lone footsoldier) the AI is pretty good. They'll take cover most the time, try to flank you and utilize destructible terrain and grenades to force you out of your cover.
Play Time/Replayability - 3/5
I feel guilty giving this game a three out of five in this category, as it's somewhat misleading. The play time of FC2 really is pretty high for a FPS, and can range from 8-30 hours depending on how much of the side missions you're willing to do. Sadly, at least half your time spent playing will be wasted driving around in vehicles to get from location to location as there is an unbelievable amount of empty space in the map.
Replayability is not the greatest, in my opinion. Different buddies will give you different buddy missions, but that's pretty much the only difference between play throughs. Sure, because of free roam you can do things in whatever order you please, but you'll ultimately be doing all the same things. The main incentive for multiple play throughs is the four different levels of difficulty in FC2. So if you don't play on harder difficulties, or play on the hardest difficulty available on your first play through, then there is little reason to play this game more than once.
Story - Nil
Yet another game that claims to have a captivating story and fails to deliver. In this aspect, FC2 was very reminiscent to Heavenly Sword. Rarely will you encounter the story, and rarely will it entertain you. Once you near the end of the game, any hopes you had for an explosive finale will be squashed... And your 'explosive finale' will be replaced with complete and total disappointment. Don't be surprised if you find yourself saying, "That was it? Really? What's supposed to be captivating about that?" The only real entertaining part of the story was the character of The Jackal, who I found to be highly entertaining, but is featured very little. I can't complain about the story enough, since it carries false hints of greatness in it's vague similarities to the story of Yojimbo and Last Man Standing (the films).
Graphics/Sound - Nil
This game reminded me of COD Modern Warfare in the fact that you can turn the graphics down to their minimum settings (yep, I've still got this hella old computer) and they still look fantastic. I can only imagine how crazy they look with a proper computer or on a console.
The sounds were really good, in my opinion. Weapon sounds, environmental sounds, and voice acting was all very high quality. Don't get psyched out by the awesome menu music though, as the only music like that in the game occurs at the main menu and during the final credits. Otherwise it's action-triggered music, and sub-par music at that.
Final Recommendation - 6/10 Actual - 6
Some people might think that a six out of ten is a pretty bad rating, but according to GameFAQs it is summarized as 'Fair - game is okay, but there are many better.' That suits Far Cry 2 very well. This game could have easily been the revolutionary FPS experience that the box advertises, but several glaring flaws prevented it from being just that.
All in all, the game has a lot of great features but because of it's outrageously terrible pacing and very low quantity of killing I can't really rate it any better than a 6/10. Beware that the second half of the game is a very steep decline. In hindsight, I'd probably only buy this game if it was less than twenty dollars.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/04/09
Game Release: Far Cry 2 (US, 10/21/08)
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