Review by unrlmgachmpn

"Far Cry 2: Best Taken in Short Doses"

The original Far Cry was a smash hit when it came out on the PC in 2004. Its graphics were beyond anything previously seen in games and it was hailed as one of the greatest shooters of the generation. So, as you can imagine, it was with great anticipation that gamers awaited the predecessor to the original, Far Cry 2. Initial previews of the game looked incredibly promising. The visuals were top-notch, the open world was of Africa was sounding great, and the realistic weather, damage, fire, and weapon degrading systems sounded as if they would provide a totally new level of immersion. While Far Cry 2 delivers all these elements, there are several problems that keep it from being the great game it could have been.

(Story - 7/10) The story of Far Cry 2 is very simple. You play a mercenary who has been sent in to an unnamed African country in the middle of a Civil War. Your mission is to kill the Jackal, the arms dealer who is providing both sides of the conflict with weapons. The player arrives at his destination only to find himself stricken with malaria. Upon regaining consciousness, the player finds himself in a bed with the Jackal standing over him. The Jackal basically says that he calls the shots and you better not mess with him before leaving you for the worst with only a machete as sounds of gunfire come from outside. Other than that, the game's story is very limited. However, there are a few other turning points that I found very enjoyable and worthwhile, keeping the plot from being a total flop.

(Sound - 8/10) Far Cry 2's sound is good enough, but nothing spectacular. The music consists of either nothing or else of African drumbeat sort of tracks. There is an option to turn music off, which is very helpful for those preferring a stealthier approach. Footsteps, desert winds, and gunfire are all fairly generic, but all the NPC's tend to talk in a rather annoying and exaggerated African accent. There is nothing bad about the sound, but there's nothing new about it, either.

(Graphics - 10/10) The visuals are where this game shines. I was able to play the game at the maximum settings on my PC and it looks fantastic. Far Cry 2 is easily one of the best looking games of the year. The fire effects are spectacular. The day/night cycle produces a noticeable change in lighting and the shadows move with the sun's position. Water is detailed and the surface shifts and glimmers. Reflections look fantastic. From lush jungles to barren deserts, Far Cry 2 is a feast for the eyes.

(Gameplay - 6/10) This is where the game goes a bit sour. All those great-sounding elements I mentioned earlier are implemented quite well in the game, but it is the game design itself that brings Far Cry 2 down for the count.

I'll start off with the weapons degrading. This system is actually very nice and realistic. If you use the same weapon for an extended period of time, it slowly gets rusty and less reliable, frequently jamming up and, eventually, exploding. Weapons you pick up from fallen enemies are lower quality than those you get from doing missions for the arms dealer and degrade faster, so they are much riskier to use.

The fire system is also executed very well, to a point that playing other action games after experiencing Far Cry 2 has become more difficult due to the lack of spreading fire. In Far Cry 2, fire created by means of flamethrower, explosion, etc. does not simply stay in one spot as in other games. Based on the wind speed and direction, the fire slowly spreads to nearby objects like grasses, huts, and trees. This system can completely change the way a player thinks about their tactics when planning an attack.

The game's health and damage system is very simple. Your health meter is divided up into five segments. Upon taking damage, the segments slowly decrease. Any damage taken in the first four segments can be replenished with syrettes found in First Aid Kits throughout the game. However, should you stand at the business ends of your foes' guns for too long, your health can drop down into the final bar. Should this happen, pressing the healing key will trigger a sequence in which your character performs some sort of gut-wrenching action such as ripping a bullet out of his arm or leg. The player also suffers occasional malaria attacks, in which they must press the "Health" key to take a pill and stabilize their symptoms.

The game's overall difficulty curve follows a sort of reverse slope. I found that Far Cry 2 was actually the most challenging at the beginning, when the player had no real weapons at his disposal. The enemies had the upper hand in every single fight. However, after completing a few missions for the friendly neighborhood arms dealer, I was fully equipped with a grenade launcher, flamethrower, and automatic sniper rifle. From that point on, the game became a rather simple case of aim and fire.

It is the open world system that ultimately becomes Far Cry 2's downfall. There is an incredibly limited amount of variety as far as mission type goes. It's either blowing up a convoy or assassinating a target or picking up some item to bring back to base. Those are the only types of missions. The game's monotony, fairly reminiscent of Assassin's Creed, another Ubisoft title, is what makes it the victim of so much negative criticism. It all boils down to killing the same guys with the same methods from start to end.

There are larger enemy camps that make up the “big bases” you attack for all your main missions. These are scattered throughout the massive game world and protected by several guard posts along the roads. This is where the broken gameplay really begins. These guard posts are everywhere and there is no fast travel system to get around them, with the exception of a few buses. These guard posts are full of hostile enemies. No matter what faction you're doing a mission for, no matter how slowly you drive through or what your reputation level is, the guards always will attack. And there aren't just one or two outposts between you and your objective; typically one will encounter at least four en route. This can result in having used up all your ammo and special weapons before even reaching the actual mission location. Then there's the return trip back from completing your mission. After going a short distance away from these guard posts, even if you have totally annihilated them, everything will have respawned when you return, forcing you to kill everything again on your way back home.

There are also patrolmen in jeeps that drive along the roads. With the map being as big as it is, driving from place to place is the only quick means of transportation (the only present means of “fast travel” are buses placed roughly at the four corners of the map and then one at the center). However, if you're driving along in the middle of nowhere and encounter one of these patrolling jeeps, you can choose to either kill the driver and passenger and risk taking damage and using your ammo, or (as I would frequently do) use a grenade or something else of the sort to destroy it from afar. However, countless times, I wound up destroying my own car in the process and found myself walking to almost all my objectives. As anyone who has played an open-world game before can tell you, walking from place-to-place is… annoying, to say the least. However, this may have been the fault of my own playstyle and not the game.

These respawning guard posts, repetitive missions, and excessively placed road patrols all make for a very tedious game.

However, the actual combat and shooting is very well done. You acquire “buddies” throughout the game who offer you additional objectives to your missions (more of the same, killing the target, retrieving the package, etc.) providing you with upgrades to your safe houses as rewards.

The player can unlock weapons to buy from doing missions for an arms dealer. These weapons must be purchased with diamonds, the game's currency system, after unlocking them. Diamonds can be found in small quantities throughout the game world and are also received in larger quantities as payment for missions.

(Replayability - 5/10) Far Cry 2 took me about 40 hours to complete my first time. This is with searching for diamonds quite a bit and doing all the secondary buddy objectives to the main missions. If one simply tried to blaze through the game, doing only the main missions, it could easily be completed in a fraction of the time. As for replay value, there is some present to a certain extent. Someone who played through using a sniper play style may wish to go through again using a more “go in guns blazing” approach. However, with the gameplay being as monotonous as it is, I cannot think of any reason that someone would want to play through it all more than once.

Final Summary - Far Cry 2 is by no means a bad game. Not at all. The visuals are fantastic and the action is top notch. Were it not for the repetitive missions and ridiculous travel times between objectives, the gameplay would be much better. If one tried to play Far Cry 2 over the course of a few days, playing several missions in a row in long sittings, I can assure you they would grow very sick of it very quickly. However, if the player is seeking a short burst of action, taken in a dosage of an hour or two at a time, Far Cry 2 is indeed a great game.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 06/23/09

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

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