Far Cry 2 Xbox 360, PS3, PC
It may be a weird turn of phrase, but Far Cry 2 is very much a ‘real’ game. While other shooters take fantasy to the extreme, FC2 takes place in a mostly unremarkable, albeit visually stunning setting. And while other examples of the genre have a protagonist that boasts some superhuman ability, the most remarkable trait that the hero, or should I say anti-hero, in Far Cry 2 possesses is a rather unforgiving dose of malaria, so severe that you must continually take medication over the course of the adventure to control it. Because of this non-conforming, near confrontational rebellion against other shooters, the game is both tremendously exciting and maddeningly frustrating in equal measures. In truth, at times it can hit both ends of this spectrum within seconds of each other.
Without doubt, Far Cry 2’s most impressive aspect is its somewhat unusual premise, giving you a huge play area to explore in any way you wish – 50-square kilometres if you believe the immodest PR drivel. Sure, this is not all that that unique of an idea if you directly compare it to the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Mercenaries and others, but the game is certainly a different beast from those. Obviously, the fact that it is played from a first-person perspective is one big difference, but it offers quite a bit more to differentiate itself than just that solitary nugget.
Playing the game is somewhat akin to a series of ebbs and flows, as all the enemies are located in certain hotspots throughout the map. For example, if you approach a safe house you have not seen before, then there will always be two or three guards outside it waiting for you to make an appearance. Should you take out these guards then you get access to that safe house as a save point. However, if you feel your weaponry are not up to the task you could always try and sneak away instead, coming back at another time when you’re packing a bigger punch. That example is however the game at its most basic.
For the rest of the game there are loads more decisions to be made. Some might steadfastly stick to the main story, never once going to the weapon shop and/or communication antennas to start side-missions to get their hands on the extra diamonds and unlock extra weapons to buy. However, I would say you honestly need to try and at least get some of these weapons, as enemy cast-off’s guns can break in Far Cry 2, meaning your best chance is to acquire you own stock. There is a nice selection of around 40 to pick from, with varying numbers of grenades, assault rifles, shotguns, snipers, and grenade launchers available to buy and upgrade.
But like I said, the game does have its problems. None by themselves are game-breaking, but they are numerous enough to total up and cause annoyance. The biggest of these problems comes from the AI, which is all over the place in terms of quality. At times enemies are just far too accurate, making impossible shots from across valleys with insane accuracy. Then if I try to make the same shot with my equipped assault riffle I’ll always have little to no chance of returning the favour, usually having to use up three or four clips to even register a hit.
Additionally, unlike other sandbox games FC2 does not diversify greatly from mission to mission, which pretty much means you’re always rushing off to shoot someone at some location. Clearly, this can get very repetitive, particularly when the game weighs in at almost 20 hours in length (double or triple that number if you want to try and 100% the game). Also the fact that longevity is somewhat artificially lengthened by setting many of the missions veritable miles away from each other does start to grate – particularly later on in the game. It should be noted though that you do have the option to complete most of the main missions a different way by asking a buddies (who you’ll have rescued in a mission beforehand) for their input. This will lead to the mission turning out slightly different that the way it was originally set. However, the cynic in me just sees this as yet more driving to far off places to add time to the clock.
There are definitely some standout missions though, where the shooting of said stuff is made to feel that little better because of it occurring in remarkable locations. A good example of this would be early in the game when you storm a well protected castle in a quest to find and kill the occupying Prince. Then later on things get even better, but to mention them here would to some extent spoil the vaguely compelling story the game tells. All in all, a small bit of added diversity would have being welcome though, as regardless of the game’s uniqueness it is still a simple matter of one man going up against army – a cliché which is very much worn out.
So, like I say at the end of every review of a shooter, the FPS genre is absolutely flooded right now, so you really have to single out the picks of the bunch unless you want to put a huge hole in your wallet with every month that passes. Far Cry 2 comes very close to being one of those games that are truly worth it.
When the game is at its best it is very special, offering some truly unique moments that set it apart from any other shooter on the market, and at those times you’d heartily applaud Ubisoft for creating such a unique product.
However, with long hikes involved just to start a mission, the fact you have to put up with substandard hand-me-down guns for the first few hours of the game – until you can buy something better. Substandard AI which swings from Terminator-like proficiency to something resembling a Carry On film, and missions which border on monotony, it falters in just enough places to make you think before you hand over your money.