Far Cry 2

23 Oct 2008  by   Paul Younger
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Far Cry 2, Ubisoft’s latest FPS offering, has a lot to live up to. It’s a game that boasts some pretty impressive technology, a game that challenges the player to choose how they play the game, in every sense. It’s a game that has been highly anticipated and a game that we know has been “reinvented”.

So no more tropical islands, no more mutants or alien things, no more bull. Just a straight forward shooter, with Africa as a stunning backdrop. You take in the role of a mercenary who has arrived on the continent to hunt down the Jackal, an arms dealer who is selling weapons to both sides of a civil war, worsening the conflict. In the introductory ride into town at the start of the game, you contract malaria (something we’ll discuss later) and collapse only to wake up to find the Jackal by your bedside telling you that you’re not going to be able to catch him and that you’re as good as dead. With your mission already compromised and your target aware that you’re after him there doesn’t seem to be much point in the game, right?

Wrong.

Far Cry 2 is a lot more than just a FPS. It’s a game that not only lets you explore the world the way you want to, but also doesn’t punish you for not completing the side quests. The narrative is compelling and twisted, tipping a nod to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

And travelling this world of darkness is exhilarating and different every time, especially because of the real-open world element that seems to have been nailed by Ubi. You can travel the world in enough different ways, whether by the water routes, by road, by air on a hang-glider or even on a bus which will take you to one of four corners of the map. You can, of course, walk if you’re that way inclined. But let me warn you, walking around an open world sandbox which is 50 square km big is no fun, and if you encounter checkpoints which you can’t overpower, frankly, you’re screwed.

Although the checkpoints aren’t so much of an issue, the guards patrolling them are. This is where my first complaint rears its ugly head. Not only is the AI less than artificially intelligent, but the weapon and damage systems are too unrealistic. For some reason weapons such as shotguns seem to have a ludicrously long range, and are accurate as hell, while the heavy machine gun is, bizarrely, underpowered. I’d risk saying that if one bullet from a heavy machine gun were to hit you, you’d probably be dead or at least lose a limb. Either way there is a weapons issue here and it’s disappointing as well as frustrating. It’s not bad enough to make you want to abandon the game, but it does shatter the immersion a little. You just have to choose your weapons correctly, as well as the way you want to fight.

When you’ve figured out the best weapons to use you can go about planning your attack on your objective. This is where the game really comes into its own (if you ignore the crazy AI). Using your map and monocular you can scout the area, find out where the enemies are, and also where to find ammo and heath. Either pick off your enemies one by one, start a fire that spreads to the camp or just go in guns blazing, it’s really up to you. This game is really gun-porn at its best. Even though you’re able to pick up all your enemies’ weapons, which seem to work perfectly when wielded by them, be prepared to have the weapon jam or fail because it’s not been properly maintained. Also be aware that jumping into a river and swimming for miles on end will also degrade the reliability of your weapon, even if you did buy it directly from your dealer. Once your gun has completely degraded, your character will just throw it away leaving you with only your other weapons at your disposal.
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Your weapons dealer won’t only supply you with weapons though, he’ll be able to give you accuracy and reliability upgrades to make sure that you’re not stuck in a field un-jamming your weapon when you could be using the damn thing to pump bullets into the super-human henchmen. You’ll also find that you’re able to buy vehicles as well as equipment for your safe houses, which include everything from boats to cars, to webbing and camouflage. It’ll cost you though, as most things do, and the only currency in the game is uncut diamonds that can be acquired by doing missions for one of the two factions. There are also 221 diamond suitcases lying around the world, but you’ll only get a fist-full of diamonds in any one case, so it’s better to get on with the missions and find the diamonds while you’re getting to your primary objective.

Unlike some other games by the same publisher, and we’ll refrain from naming names, there is so much to do, so many side missions, underground missions, buddy missions as well as alternative ways to complete primary missions with the help of your buddies which may ultimately result in a better deal for your character. Buddies can also offer help when you are stuck completing a mission. They’ll support you once if you fall in combat, but you have to activate them by visiting a safe house after you receive your mission but before you get to your objective. You can do the same too if you choose to do a mission which supports your buddy. You get to control every aspect of your buddy relationship. They won’t be annoyed with you if you choose to go straight to the objective without taking their route and when they fall you can either save them, abandon them or finish the job by popping a cap in, well, wherever you want really.

The game is beautifully made. The scenery is gorgeous, the lighting effects brilliant, the explosion models and fire (which responds to the weather system) incredibly realistic. Other than the malaria, which screws your character every now and again and only really happens when you’re in the middle of an intense fight, there isn’t much to complain about. I would say that a basic compass in the HUD would help no end. It doesn’t have to be complex, just even one with a North point just so that you don’t have to keep bringing up the map.

One final thing I want to bring to your attention, which I think has been overlooked, is the map editor. This is probably *the* most powerful map editor I have ever seen. Not only do you have access to pretty much everything the level designers had to build the game, but you can also share these maps with the world. Multiplayer maps will never be the same again. I would go on about it, but I think I’d be here all day, so instead I suggest you watch our video on the map editor. You really won’t be disappointed.

Far Cry 2 is an exceptionally well-made game and, despite the weapon issues and inconsistent AI, should be seen as a success for Ubisoft. The Far Cry team has achieved what it set out to do and redefined not just the game, but the brand too.

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