Game Review: Far Cry 2
Release: 21st October 2008
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Players: 1 player, 2-16 System Link / Online Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M
Far Cry 2 has an ego as big as it’s game world. It tries to be the embodiment of everything we gamers could ever wish for; a great first-person shooter, an open-ended free-roaming game-world (I-love-hyphenation), a politically challenging story, and immersion that makes actually going to Africa seem unrealistic. The environments are the best looking I have ever seen in my life, but there is a reason this title is infamously becoming known as Far Drive 2. It does everything we want in a game such as this, and yet doesn’t really shine in many of the areas. Let’s review it.
The setting is a fictional African country that has been thrown into civil war and turmoil by the fall of Government. Order and civility has been burned to the ground, and out of the ashes has risen a struggle for power by ex-military leaders and egotistic warlords, claiming towns, farms, or fields as their own territory. War, famine, murder and death roam the land, driven by the greed for control over diamonds, respect, or just to watch the nation crumble into the abyss. The main problem, and the reason your character has been sent to this shithole, is to take out the man controlling the weapons trade itself; known only as “The Jackal”.
This is the world we enter the moment the game starts. You pick one of half a dozen or so characters to play as, the story fleshed out after this point is the same whoever you choose, but the guys you don’t choose become your buddies in the story. Your job is to assassinate the man internationally blamed for the ongoing troubles in the country, the guy supplying the arms. As is the norm, you catch malaria, and wake up in a room with the jackal standing over you. He flashes his guns, gives you a warning, and lets you live. Your mission is over, for reasons not really explained, and yet you still make it your goal to take this bastard out. Enter the game.
The huge expanse of African jungle, grassland, and savannah is now open for exploration, either by cross country, road, or by waterway. You begin working for either of the games two major factions, and also missions for a priest who offers Malaria medicine in return for your troubles. By completing faction missions you gain respect, and get paid in the game’s currency, which is diamonds. With these you can purchase weapons and upgrades from local weapon shops. Side missions are available from these men, completing them unlocks the ability to purchase new weapons and upgrades.
The immersion is amazing, and yet suffers headaches at the same time. The entire game takes place in first-person, whether your in combat, driving, or burning up some bushes (the fire mechanics are awesome, eat your heart out Alone in the Dark). To look at the world map your guy pulls it out of his pocket. The constant first-person mechanic is very well done. When you’re injured you inject some get-well medicine into your arm, and you see this as it happens which is kind of cool. If you’re very very injured you see your guy pull chunks of shrapnel or bullets from his body with his machete. Your vehicle takes damage to, and will require you to jump out and open the bonnet to fix the car. This is a cool feature, and adds to the immersion and realism, but Jesus they can’t take more than a few bullets before this needs to be done, and the game is also difficult, so you’re guy can’t take much damage either. With the missions requiring you to go from one end of the map to the other, you regularly come across guard posts, and thus enter the combat.
The weapons sustain damage the more they are used, again adding to realism, but it pisses you off when you’re surrounded by guys and suddenly your AK-47 decides to jam. Weapons purchased are in better condition than those picked up on the battlefield, so it’s not advisable to pick these up, unless necessary. There comes a point when realism takes away the fun factor from a game. This isn’t as much of a complaint, more of a nagging feeling that having the whole game be against you in every way isn’t a fun time for anyone. This brings me to the driving. As I mentioned most missions require you to go way across the map, which is huge, to complete them. So it goes something like this, every five minutes. Drive, stop, shoot, heal, repair, drive, stop, shoot, heal, repair, drive, stop, shoot, heal, repair, drive, stop, shoot, heal, repair, drive, stop, shoot, heal, repair…. Every five pissing minutes. This is realism, and is immersion, but it is not fun and I felt I was getting repetitive strain disorder just by playing this game. There is a fast travel system that can be used, if you decide against driving for miles all the time.
There are things this game does very well. Like I mentioned the environments are probably the best I’ve ever seen. This is a beautifully realised world, and it seriously takes your breath away at times. Time moves in real-time, so an hour of game played moves an hour in the game. You have the chance to take over safehouses, and these are where you save your game. When you sleep you set your alarm to wake up, and move time forward using your wrist watch; perhaps take on a mission at night instead of day. You also meet your buddies at your houses, and this enables them to be battle ready, which means if you almost die in combat, they’ll come and save you, and then help you out in the fight. This is a great feature, and really does help you out. The physics in this game are amazing as well. A grenade went off at some point, and the leaves off the nearby tree erupted all over the place. Combat is fluid, but doesn’t feel very powerful. The game is as solid as a rock though, not once were there framerate issues or anything of that sort.
Multiplayer is the usual deathmatch/team deathmatch offerings with objective gametypes to. It plays the same as single player, so nothing else to go into really. It’s class based, similar to Call of Duty and Team Fortress. There is also a feature that is amazing, and that’s the map editor. I have never seen anything so deep on a console before, this sort of thing is usually reserved for the PC crowd. You can create a map… it’s cheesy but your imagination is the only limit here (besides amount of content… but you can put in a tonne of stuff before lag would become an issue, so don’t worry). Terrain, foliage, time of day, content, anything you can think of can be placed and designed by you. This really is a crowning achievement by Ubisoft. ***applause***
Far Cry 2 has big ambitions and tries it’s best to be great at every element it has. Sadly it has so much potential, but doesn’t live up to the dream it lives inside. Definitely rent worthy for sure, to at least experience this great innovation in gaming, but it gets very repetitive very early, even more so than Assassin’s Creed.