Game: "Far Cry 2"
Published by: Electronic Arts
Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Review: There’s been a noticeable shortage of good FPSs for the PC these days, which is a real disappointment because it’s the perfect platform for that particular genre. Being a multi-platform release, I was expecting Far Cry 2 to compromise a lot of the gameplay from the original Far Cry in order to appeal to a broader console audience. Thankfully, this was not the case.
The ending to the original Far Cry had Jack Carver fighting off mutants inside an active volcano before using the loudness of his Hawaiian shirt to foil the villain. Far Cry 2 picks up exactly where that game left off. Well, by “left off,” I mean “never went”. Rather than being about Jack Carver, or mutants, or tropical islands, Far Cry 2 is about mercenaries in a fictional African country who are hoping to score some cash at the expense of the general populace. You get to choose which mercenary to play as, and then you are dropped in with one mission: find and kill the notorious arms dealer known as “The Jackal”.
You run into some trouble, in that the moment you arrive in the country, you contract malaria. Worse yet, in the midst of a bout with malaria, The Jackal finds you, taunts you, and then leaves you to escape from your crappy hotel in the middle of a civil war. Worst special agent ever. So the rest of the game is spent trying to get your hands on The Jackal with the help of the local factions that you play off each other.
At least, that’s what I think the game is about. Once The Jackal ditches you in the beginning, you start doing one mission after another in what I can only assume is part of a larger scheme to get some info from the local leaders. You never wind up getting info on The Jackal, and that whole plotline seems to just disappear after several missions spent doing unrelated stuff for the local warlords. I’m not saying Far Cry had an award-winning story, but at least you knew what was going on; When mutants started attacking you, you knew it was because of a crazy virus. But this is an action game after all. Does it really matter that much why you’re killing all these people?
The more important question to ask is what you will be using to wipe out scores of other hired guns. To wit, you’ll have access to a variety of real world weapons, with the restriction that you can only carry your machete, a sidearm (pistols, machine pistols), a primary weapon (shotguns, rifles, grenade launchers), and a special weapon (machine gun, flamethrower, rocket launcher, etc). You can pick up and use any weapons you find and/or recover off dead soldiers, but such weapons will not be in the best shape, which means there’s a good chance they’ll jam, or even explode, the moment you fire them. The solution is to buy guns from one of the arms dealers you’re not trying to assassinate. Even better, the guns you buy are deposited in a warehouse along with endless supplies of ammunition, fuel, and explosives.
To buy bigger and badder destructive implements, you’ll need to get your hands on some rough diamonds. You can do this one of two ways: use your GPS system to root around through the brush to find attaché cases containing two or three diamonds, or do some faction missions. Each one gives you enough diamonds to buy a new weapon or two. The only downside, apart from the terrible, rushed voice acting you have to enduring during the briefing, is the somewhat depressing nature of the missions themselves. In one mission, for example, the opposing warlord has captured a truck containing medicine that could be of great help to the natives. In any other game, your mission would be to recapture the medicine and drive it to a safe place, but here, your job is to destroy the medicine to spite the opposing warlord. One of your buddies will call you with an alternate plan, but again, the new plan isn’t something altruistic; he just wants you to deposit some files of his on the truck before you blow it up so he can fake his own death.
But your buddies aren’t all bad. You’ll meet a little more than a handful of the mercs you didn’t choose to play as, and of them, you’ll have two main buddies: one will give you sides missions to do during and after regular missions; the other buddy will rescue you should you be killed in combat, meaning that they’ll pick you up, drag you to a safer spot a few feet away, and then stick around for a bit to lend you some extra firepower. On the other hand, if one of your buddies gets injured while you’re nearby, you’ll have the option to save them with a health syrette. If you’re all out of those, however, you can still give them something for the pain (Namely, a single, lead-based injection). The former will revive your buddy and increased your history with them, while the later will just cost you a buddy.
One of the more remarkable features of the game is the fire propagation system. Depending on the conditions, players and enemies can create fires that spread over dry brush, wooden huts, and the like. Flamethrowers and Molotov cocktails can be used to create deadly barriers for either burning enemy troops, or just luring them into the open. Conversely, players can endanger themselves by accidently igniting grass around them with the backblast of a rocket launcher.
Vehicles also play a large role in the game, thanks to the immense amount of time spent traveling. With the exception of trucks with mounted guns, all the vehicles are standard civilian vehicles, along with a couple Jeep models that the Jeep company apparently wanted to be associated with bloody sectarian violence in a malaria-stricken hellscape. None of the cars are particularly well-armored, but luckily, you can fix broken cars before they completely explode by tightening a single loose nut on the engine. The other side of that, however, is that unless you ditch your vehicle well before encountering any enemies, you’re likely in for a lot of time spent tightening loose nuts.
After a couple tutorial missions in the beginning, the world is more or less open to you. You’ll have fun driving around causing havoc, raiding guard posts, looking for diamonds, and stopping to do the occasional mission. But soon, you’ll start to get tired of all the back-and-forth you’ll have to endure for the sake of completing missions. Worse still are those guard posts you were going through earlier. Those places don’t stay empty, and you can’t just drive through one, unless you want a truck with a mounted gun to chase you down and force you into a desperate firefight. On the one hand, it adds some suspense to the long travel between destinations, but on the other hand, having to stop and have three or four shootouts on the way to a real mission is tiresome on its own. The ability to teleport to the center and four corners of the map via public transportation helps, but only a little.
Overall, though, I enjoyed Far Cry 2. You definitely lose sight of the point to all the killing you’re doing, and you don’t really get attached to any of the characters, but the focus is on the shooting. In that regard, the game is plenty fun, though its level of realism has the game teetering right on the edge of “annoying as hell”. Still, any game that says you can save yourself from the verge of death by yanking some rebar out of your torso and injecting a little morphine into your arm can’t really be considered all that real.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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