Review by vyse_1986

"Driving around in Africa"

Open World-Games are all the rage these days. Ever since GTA started to make the concept popular outside of western RPGs, many genres followed into the realms of open worlds: racing games, space sims, and first person shooters. The pioneer of this was Stalker, but it failed quite badly, and now, we have Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2 out at pretty much the same time. While Fallout 3 is an RPG with FPS elements, Far Cry 2 stays more true to the roots of the FPS genre.

The setup is really simple. You're a soldier sent to Africa to kill an arms dealer who fuels the local civil war by selling huge amounts of weapons. The mission fails, you get infected with Malaria and become stuck in the country. The main character then starts working for the two warring factions because he feels like it. From this point on, you can take missions from either the UPLL or the APR (none of them is good or bad or has a reason to fight the other fraction, they just exist and want to kill each other) to advance the story and eventually lead one of them to victory.

You can also take missions from an arms dealer so he'll sell you better weapons, or intercept other missions from communication towers to earn more money. However, there is no incentive to freely explore the world without taking any missions. You could eliminate all the soldiers stationed at a guard post, but they just respawn once you're more than a few hundred feet away.

You also get buddies that will show up at your save houses and sometimes rescue you when you're shot down in combat. Most of the time, they also provide you with alternate paths for the main missions that apparently make the next target easier to achieve, but I found going through these additional branches to be more of a hassle than just completing each of the main quests on your own. The only side missions that aren't optional are those that you need to do to get more pills. Without any pills, you're screwed as soon as your Malaria breaks out again.

The main issue in Far Cry 2 is that you're driving around so much. Get a mission, drive to the location, shoot down a few people, drive back to town, repeat. That wouldn't be so bad if the driving wouldn't outweigh the actual missions by about three to one. That's right, completing an objective takes about five minutes (even later in the game, every location is just a few buildings and about a dozen enemies), but driving there often takes longer, and considering you have to go back, you're really looking at 15 minutes of driving for every 5 minutes of shootouts.

The world isn't particularly huge, and you can take the bus to save some time, but you're intercepted by enemies all the time. They patrol the roads and will always try to shoot you on sight, so you have to get out of your car (if you don't, they shoot your car until it explodes), kill them and go on. You usually can't drive for more than half a minute without being intercepted, so this gets really annoying really fast (and it's also why driving everywhere takes so damn long). Even if you don't take any optional side missions, you'll have to invest about 15 hours to see the ending, but when you see it, you'll have spent only 3 hours on actually completing missions and 12 hours on driving around, shooting random road patrols and trading fake passports for Malaria pills.

The actual missions play decent, by the way. It's just like what you'd expect from an FPS, but looking at the sheer quantity of FPS's out these days, this game fails to stand out in any way, even if you ignore the notorious open world aspects. It's a bit annoying at times a well, because random Malaria outbreaks can really screw you up in battle, and your weapons break faster than a first generation Xbox 360.


- Gameplay -
As indicated, the gameplay in Far Cry 2 is horrendous. The missions themselves play okay by FPS standards, but the open world aspects can be a game breaker. Driving around is a chore because you'll have to constantly leave your car and shoot down respawning enemies before they can shoot you. While none of the gameplay elements stand out, a lot of them drag the game down.
Score: 7/35

- Controls -
The controls in Far Cry 2 are near perfect. The driving at least feels authentic and the shooting segments play perfectly well. It's a lot like Call of Duty, so you don't have a crosshair for precision aiming but have to aim with whatever your weapons provide you to do so. I've always liked that - it's way more immersive than a tacked-on crosshair. There are some issues with the button layout that sometimes caused me to bring out the goggles when I wanted to shoot, but that's a minor problem.
Score: 31/35

- Visual Appeal -
The jungle looks impressive. The desert not so much, but it's the desert, so what do you expect? The game is a bit too dark at times which makes it hard to see stuff, but what kills the rating are visual glitches. Shooting people looks weird; they bleed, but the blood looks very strange and seems very out of place in the otherwise photo-realistic environments. There's no collision detection at all for animals. Shoot a zebra three times and nothing at all happens, shoot it a fourth time and it just falls over, dead. There's other weird stuff going on, as well.
Score: 11/15

- Acoustic Appeal -
There isn't much at all here. Engine noises get very repetitive and shooting sounds like, well, shooting. The voice acting is average, and the little music that there is sounds quite decent. It's okay, but there's absolutely nothing that stands out here.
Score: 9/15

Final Verdict
Far Cry 2 tries to be an open world game and fails. There's not much freedom at all here, and instead, the open world aspects actually harm the game by needlessly prolonging the game. As far as FPS's go, the shooting plays decent, but given the amazing amount of other first person shooters on the market, you should either choose one that doesn't have the annoying elements mentioned in the review, or pick Fallout 3 if you want an open world game with shootouts. Far Cry 2 makes a decent weekend rental at best. Gamefaqs explains a 6/10 as "game is ok, but there are many better" and I couldn't say it any better.

Score: 58/100 -> 6/10

Note: This is a score viewing the game as a single player experience. I tried the map editor and it is indeed very good, so if you don't care for the single player mode and just want to play this game online, you're looking at a completely different game here and can probably up the score considerably.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/10/08

Game Release: Far Cry 2 (EU, 10/24/08)

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