Review by DandyQuackShot
Welcome to the Jungle
Far Cry 2 is an interesting first person shooter that puts you in the boots of a mercenary that is sent on a mission to an unnamed African nation to assassinate an arms dealer. To get to the arms dealer, AKA, "The Jackal" you will have to battle between two warring factions within the nation as well as navigate through a dense landscape featuring amazing scenic graphics and enough guns and ammo to lay waste to the entire continent. Far Cry boasts many features including 50 hours of single player story mode as well as a unique multiplayer map creator and online play.
I never got around to play Far Cry Instincts, and it seems I may have missed out big time, but Far Cry 2 contains controls that seem to be becoming a universal standard for Xbox 360 games. If you have played Call of Duty 4, then you will have already mastered the beginning tutorial of the game. The feel of Far Cry 2 is a big mix between a lot of preceeding shooter games and they remind me of a mix between BioShock, Call of Duty, and Fallout 3. In Far Cry 2 you have the basic controls of Call of Duty 4, the health regeneration of BioShock (poking yourself with syringes), and the constant checking of your map to make sure you are headed in the right direction. All in all, I guess you cannot keep something original this late in the console's age to not have a similar feel to other games.
The game opens with a fun choice of whom you want to play as. I could not find anybody that had been on the Redneck Special Forces team so I decided to go with the guy who had been part of the IRA. Choosing a character will hook you up later in the game with buddies off of that same choice list. Weapons can be easily obtained by picking them up or buying them from a weapons shop and here I feel when using the weapons you get a flashback to old PC games where the guns do not give you any feeling of recoil and the muzzle flash graphics are a little bit out of date. However, there are some great weapons to play around with including IEDs, and the flamethrower. Items to pick up flash and you will get to do plenty of exploring by driving around to the next objective in either a jeep or a small car or a pull off a Chuck Norris Missing in Action scene with your motor boat. The enemy AI plays it very smart, although they do not know much about taking cover. Sometimes they may take cover, but most of the time they will just run up on you and shoot at you in the open. Along with this the stealth system is way out of whack. If you use silent weapons or go through the trouble of buying the stealth suit, any shot taken near a group of enemies will alert them to you. You have to be very far away to pull it off and that ony limits you to the dart rifle.
A lot of this game requires objective taking and speeding past check points to save on ammo. You are against everybody once the tutorial is over and you will have to set up ambushes as well raid camps and villages to secure your objectives. You get a lot of objectives to pull off which is measured in terms of percentage (similar to that of Lego Star Wars), and along the way you will have side missions to complete for your buddies. The buddy system is kind of odd as your buddies never really accompany you on missions, but will be there to drag you out of a fight if you get shot up bad enough. The game play is very addictive once you get used to getting from place to place.
The graphics are very impressive from the start of the game, but the effects of the weapons you fire are very much out of place in this world of lush environments. The characters have to be commended greatly for detail, and you can look down and see your own body (something rarely done in shooters) during many parts, but also view facial expressions of other characters as they talk or writhe in pain. The opening of the story mode really had me amazed and it had me thinking that this might be a very well spent next 50 hours. The graphics are excellent, but the effects of the weapons you use left me wondering. It is fun to play with fire on this game as you can start small brush fires with Molotov bottles and your flamethrower. After playing this game for about seven straight hours I was dreaming all night about cutting bullets out of my arms and legs. If you become gravely wounded you get a limited opportunity to fix yourself up, and its graphic. The weather and daytime/nighttime patterns also stand out and I love playing this game early in the morning and late in the afternoon to enjoy the effects of the sunlight. Oh yeah, and Jeep. A few graphical glitches I found were a tree growing in the middle of railroad tracks, grass growing through the floorboard of a functional car, and the sensitive nature of zebras and water buffalo when they touch a vehicle that is not moving.
The music is essentially good although during the game it becomes very subtle and sets the mood. The voiceovers are good especially with the enemy dialogue as they search for you and shout out to each other. You also have plenty of background animal noises such as guineas, monkeys, and although there are a few zebras and water buffalo on the map they do not make too much noise unless they end up under your tires. The use of cellphones for objective updates also gives the game a more realistic feel.
The plot can be very confusing until you realize that nobody, but you and your buddies are the only good guys... or are you? It begins very well and gives you a realistic and immersive setting, but then falls into the category of mundane as you go from objective to objective in pursuit of The Jackal. The story is nicely laid out once you figure out what is going on, but the lack of a driver to keep you going from objective to objective prevents any going concern for the story as you continually pull favors for both sides of the wartorn country. The concept of the game reminds me way too much of that other faction game-Just Cause. Here you had a GTA like game with pretty much the same scenario as Far Cry 2 except you were going for a dictator in a South American country and you had the benefit of stealing not just cars, but jets and all kinds of neat vehicles. You cannot trust any of the factions that you work for except your own buddies who will help you out in taking objectives. Your mercenary will also keep a journal of his own so be sure to read up on it throughout the game to understand the plot. Overall though, it is a much more realistic experience than Just Cause, and at times you will get immersed enough to feel like you made it into a modern day version of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The character of Hector Voorhees really exposes the parallels between the game and the novel.
There are no length complaints to Far Cry 2. The story mode takes you through a very lengthy experience and allows plenty of time to stop and smell the burning grasslands. Side objectives and many main story objectives will not only keep you guessing, but also glad that as an open ended game you are not left feeling cheated because of a short story mode.
Far Cry 2 has plenty of replay value. Everything you want out of a first person shooter is right in the game with some good value to replay the story mode, and online multiplayer. The multiplayer reminded me of Call of Juarez, and it is basic, with a split between ranked and player matches featuring your basic game types like deathmatch and capture the flag (or in this case, capture the diamonds). The real replay value comes from the story mode where you have to make some very tough decisions during the game that will make you wish you had saved a new file where you reach certain missions. However, the plot is still linear no matter what game play decisions you make. There is also a map editor in Far Cry 2 that allows you to make maps and share them with the online community. There is a large community that plays online so you are set for enjoying that part of the game.
The achievements have mostly to do with the story mode and all can be unlocked if you take your time with all of the side quests. Other achievements that seem out of the way to get will actually be unlocked as you go along in the story mode so there not too many difficult achievements to get. There are some multiplayer achievements based on your XP and numbers of kills and saves so for the achievement hunters you get a good deal.
Final Recommendation 8/10
I think Far Cry 2 lacks a driver for enduring the 50 hour story mode. I made the mistake of renting this game so I had to get through it regardless, but the plot gets confusing and you do not have too much of that excitement for what happens next feel to your experience. Far Cry 2 will still immerse you in a realistic setting with plenty of fun weapons to play around with and a lot of exploring to do. Once you get into this game you will enjoy it, and once you beat it you will wish this game did not have a linear story line. This game takes a lot from dark nature novels like Heart of Darkness and so you will not only explore the massive African landscape, but also the motivation of the native and foreign interests that have turned the landscape into a war torn free for all. This game is definitely a great rental or discount buy.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Far Cry 2 (US, 10/21/08)
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