MWN Impressions: Far Cry 2
Set in an unnamed, fictional nation in Africa that’s in the middle of a civil war, Far Cry 2 sees you, a mercenary for hire sent to take out an arms dealer know only as “The Jackal”. The game world is absolutely huge, 50 square kilometers of African savannah, jungle, swamp and scrub land await you. The into cinematic to the game, if you can even call it a cinematic is fantastic. You are driven from the airport to a hotel in a nearby town by taxi and the driver’s conversation and the events that occur really let you know exactly what’s going on and how bad the situation really is without feeling forced. It’s storytelling at its finest, the subtle way he mentions a plane overhead being one of the last out of the country, the way people drive like madmen, and the way he has to bribe a group of militia with beer to even get into the town itself are all wonderfully done.
Once the story kicks in you find out The Jackal is a difficult man to track down and also that your character has malaria. The fact you have no malaria medicine until a certain point in the game prevents you from exploring too far, and acts as a set of reigns on the player, forcing you to learn the ropes before you get full explorative control. You will spend the majority of the game working for two opposing factions, the UFLL and the APR. The completion of various tasks for either side earns you a reward of diamonds that you can use to purchase weapons from the stores situated at various points around the game world. The weapon stores themselves will give you missions to eliminate their competition, unlocking new purchases in the process.
The sheer variety of weapons is fantastic, from pistols to RPG launchers to Molotov cocktails there is something for every situation. The store bought weapons are in pristine condition and rarely jam on you, however the same cannot be said for the weapons taken from enemies. Munitions taken from downed enemies will constantly misfire, whether it’s a simple jam or the rocket you just primed dropping to the floor in front of you and exploding it adds another level of strategy to the combat. The weapons all feel like they should, the shotguns feel powerful and the assault rifles have recoil that feel realistic. The most enjoyable of all the weapons has to be the flamethrower. Thanks to the fantastic game engine, fire spreads realistically and very quickly in the arid conditions of the savannah.
The particle effects and the graphics in general are gorgeous if your PC has the power to run them, however thanks to the very friendly, scaling engine even fairly old PC’s can run Far Cry 2 with relatively high settings without slowing the game down to a crawl. The gruesome first aid animations are a perfect example of the fantastic particle effects, just watch that blood spray out as you rip bullets from your flesh with a pair of rusty pliers.
The enemies in general have great AI, they use cover, run from grenades and fire and will even attempt to run you down as well as shoot you. Their reactions for the most part seem believable which is quite an achievement in an open-world game. However there are times when the enemy AI just seems to glitch out or freeze and no matter how many times you shoot they stay frozen to the spot, neither noticing you or reacting to your presence.
The various buddies you can encounter throughout the campaign each have distinct personalities, something that shines through in what little dialogue they get. Once you accept a potential mission your best buddy at that point in time will give you a call, and offer an alternative and always much more interesting way to complete said mission. For example instead of sneaking onto and killing a target on a barge you can team up with a buddy to simply destroy a bridge as the barge passes below, dropping it on the ship to destroy it. Buddies aren’t too great in combat, but will come and save your ass if you are close to death. Be careful in these situations though, buddies can be mortally wounded too and you may end up having to choose between using up a precious syrette to save a buddy or use your pistol to kill them there and then as they stare directly into your eyes begging for help.
The mission structure is standard fare for an open-world game with various mission start points dotted about the map. After a while missions can get a little repetitive, most of them following the go here, kill this guy, escape formula. However once you realise that the you can approach the missions from any angle, be it day or night, sniping from afar or close combat, this is where the game really begins to shine. You are given the freedom to accomplish these seemingly almost identical goals in an infinite array of possibilities. You could sneak under a cloak of darkness and silently assassinate your target or start a brush fire, that thanks to the wind will engulf an entire outpost, including an ammo cache, which will in turn cause all off the bullets to fire, sending a hail of bullets in every direction. The possibilities are endless.
One of the few niggling complaints I have is to do with the guard checkpoints that are at pretty much every other junction along the roads. The respawn rate of the outpost guards is exceedingly fast, you will be clearing out every single checkpoint as you pass through it unless you want the joy of a never-ending car chase. This will most likely result in the car ending up as a smoldering wreck. The whole car-fixing mechanic seems to fit at first, adding another level of interactivity and immersion to the game, but after the tenth or eleventh time you are passing a checkpoint and the car grinds to a halt from a spray of gunfire it gets a bit tedious.
The 20 hour plus campaign mode is supported by a great multiplayer mode which seems to borrow quite heavily from Call Of Duty 4. This is by no means a bad thing as CoD 4 is a fantastic multiplayer FPS. Far Cry 2 uses a comparable leveling and class set-up but adds the use of vehicles and fire based warfare from the single-player campaign. The modes included are all variations on the ever popular Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Territories. The best part of the multiplayer experience for myself was creating my own content and seeing what other people could come up with. Far Cry 2 ships with a full fledged map creator, within which you can sculpt the entire landscape using an extremely simple and intuitive control scheme.
Far Cry 2 is a great sandbox game set in a beautiful world with some fantastic game mechanics and a handful of minor annoyances. However these annoyances disappear in the moments of pure bliss as you watch a small fire, started with a flare gun tear across the landscape towards an enemy encampment, or when you fire your first RPG into a building or vehicle. The gruesome first-aid animations are literally the part of the game I enjoy most, the variety in these things is insane! In my book this game is a must play, especially for anyone who enjoys creating their own content due to the feature-packed editor that the game ships with.