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Far Cry 2 Review

Far Cry 2 pack shot
Developer:UbiSoft Montreal
Publisher:UbiSoft
Genre:First Person Shooter
Platform:Xbox 360
Official Site:http://www.farcry2.com
Release Date:October 24th, 2008 (UK)
Reviewer:Andy Hemphill (Bandit)
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When it comes to first person shooters, most environments that the earth has to offer have been pretty much explored time and time again. Jungles got a slashing in Crysis, the ocean got wet and wild in Bioshock, and so many games have been set in wartime Europe that it's difficult to count them. But, in my experience, not many have been set in the depths of Africa, and especially not in the middle of a civil war.

Far Cry 2 starts out by literally dropping you in the middle of the action. Your character, one of about 10 silent protagonists, is a mercenary working for a shadowy organisation who has been sent to this unnamed African country to kill an arms dealer known only as 'The Jackal.'

To do this you need to work for the opposing factions fighting for the country, take on side missions for a number of interesting faces and generally blow stuff up and cause trouble.

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Now, a major problem with the game is the almost complete lack of a plot- you’re only assignment is to track and kill The Jackal, and the missions don't really expose any deep background or interesting plot twists. It kind of feels like you are just waiting for him to show up, rather than actually pursuing him. But, that being said, I find it's easy to look beyond the plot holes and straight to the action, which, in a word, is spectacular.

The game world is a 50 square km area of rivers, trails, heavy jungle, desert and rocky mountainsides, and your character is free to explore that expanse as you so wish. If you want to steal one of the many licensed Jeeps or a hang glider and go bouncing over the sand dunes in the north, or spend some time hacking the foliage with your machete, it's up to you. If you're a little more vindictive, you can even spend some time crouched in the long grass hunting zebra or water buffalo.

The various factions that inhabit the world will offer you all kinds of jobs, whether it's blowing up a train, capturing a fort or assassinating a rival faction leader, and the game offers numerous side quests from the black market weapons trader, the underground resistance and even your buddies- other expats trapped in the country like you.

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Your buddies are a useful asset as well as a source of missions, they will give you tips and advice and let you in on anything interesting they've found, and if you are downed in a firefight, one will come to your rescue, dragging you to safety. Your buddies are also mortal- if one is killed, he's dead and he won't be coming back. I made the mistake of assaulting a train graveyard with a buddy, and upon blowing a tanker up with an RPG, I discovered that he had died in the blast, and I couldn't help but feel bad- he had saved my life more than a few times. Of course, that didn't stop me from stripping him of his weapons.

Payment for missions is offered in rough, uncut diamonds, which can then be traded at the arms dealer for better guns and upgrades, this cost and reward system is well implemented, and the fact that once you have purchased a weapon a permanent stock of it is held in the armoury next door means that selecting the right arsenal for a mission become essential, as you can only carry one of each weapon type- forcing you to plan your mission carefully.

This planning aspect is enhanced by the consistent game world, the game runs on a clock, and if you want to go to bed in a safe house for a few hours until dark and then hit the enemy compound with mortar and sniper fire while many of them are asleep, then that's an option.

The weapons available are also varied and fun, ranging from snipers to an awesome flamethrower and everything in between. But if you run out of ammo and grab a rebel's weapon, don't be surprised if it jams or even breaks while you use it, turning your firefight into a fight to survive.

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Fire is also a common factor in the game, and the programmers have done a great job of making flame act like if would in real life- spreading from grass to trees, until the entire forest is ablaze- an amazing effect, and great for scaring rebels out of hiding. Speaking of graphics, Far Cry 2 is simply amazing. The detail is stunning, with an excellent draw distance, very little pop-up and a brilliant first person view which allows you to see your body in action- especially visceral when digging a bullet out of your leg with a combat knife when your health is low.

Combined with the graphics are excellent sound effects and a brilliantly atmospheric score that goes from quiet chanting in the desert to the heavy beat of drums in the middle of a tense firefight- it sucks you in and keeps you there.

Multiplayer-wise, the game could be described as average: all the usual game modes are there, as well as 'capture the diamond' and an assault mode. But the real meat is in the excellent map editor, which gives you almost limitless options for creating the map of your dreams, then sharing it with you friends online.

However, despite all the praise I’ve heaped upon it, the game does suffer a few minor flaws: missions are repetitive, and taking on the constant stream of enemies, guard posts and armed patrols can get irritating when you just want to travel to your next job. Also, as the game area is so big, crossing it can be a time-consuming and annoying diversion, despite the brilliant graphics.

The game does also suffer from some bad AI, though the voice acting is terrific, with rebels using some very choice words as you gun them down in their droves. Your character's malaria infection is also a pain, as you need to keep your stock of medication up or suffer debilitating effects in battle, such a clouded screen and an inability to aim- annoying.

Summary

All in all, Far Cry 2 is a masterpiece which is let down by its lack of a cohesive plot and a few dodgy bugs, but, if you are looking for a game that will absorb you into its world and keep you coming back time and time again, a game which offers beautiful vistas and a real feeling of achievement as you progress, then I’d definitely give it a go.

The bottom line
8.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Amazing visuals
  • Great gameplay
  • Plenty to do

Not so good stuff

  • Very little plot
  • Long distances can be a chore
  • Average multiplayer
  • Repetitive side-missions


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