Far Cry 2 marks the beginning of Ubisoft’s Far Cry and they worked hard to deviate from what Crytek had done with the first entry in the series. This game is grounded in reality, its story and mechanics almost punishing at times. You are presented with a wide open, partially empty, world that you are sure to spend 50+ hours exploring. If you get that far.
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You find yourself in Africa, pursuing a merciless arms dealer who has been flooding weapons into an on-going civil war. Playing the part of a mercenary of your choice, you fight your way closer to your target. He is only seen at his discretion through much of the game, regardless of this you sell yourself to both sides of the conflict in pursuit of him. You may not know exactly what you are doing half the time, I did not, but doing it is fun enough.
The main missions display the gameplay loop well: walk/drive to objective, kill/destroy objective, repeat. It strays from this sometimes. Missions are accepted by opponents in the raging civil war, who pay up front and do not discriminate. These missions can be boring but are saved by the freedom you are given in tackling the objective. There are also alternatives given by your buddies that you may act on to lessen some of the labor.
The side missions are not far departed from the loop of the main missions. There is killer for hire missions in which a deep voice on the phone instructs you to eliminate a target. To unlock new tools of the trade you will need to intercept and destroy convoys of your local arms dealer’s competitor. And to combat the malaria you have; you will be delivering travel documents for the local priest. These coupled with your buddy missions only total around 40.
Most of the fun in this game stems from the variety of weapons. You are allowed a primary, secondary, special, and knife. The primaries include rifles, assault rifles, and shotguns. Secondaries are pistols and compact sub-machine guns. Special weapons vary from LMG’s, explosive launchers, flamethrowers, etc. The knife is just a knife, though you can execute maimed enemies. If you fork out more for the DLC you will also have a suppressed pump-action shotgun, a sawed-off double barrel that only fires both barrels at once, and a crossbow with explosive tipped bolts. Weapons are acquired at an old computer in a gun shop and stored in a warehouse next door. In this warehouse your weapons are stored on the wall where you can grab new ones when your current weapons start to rust and jam. Every gun shop you encounter will have the weapons you have already purchased, so you should never be without fire power.
I enjoy the way the enemies were designed for this game. Instead of matching uniforms, heavy armor, and brand-new weapons, like in Far Cry 3, enemies wear t-shirts with shorts and are not at all trained in combat. They hide in the foliage and call out to other enemies to make sure they are still unharmed. If you engage an enemy that is near a vehicle that may just get in it and run you down. Snipers can also be posted, scouting the area, along with patrols that will cut you down with a mounted heavy machine gun. The enemies of Far Cry 2 are special for the fact that they are not a special force that works in unison to take you out. They are normal people holding weapons that the jackal got into their hands.
All throughout the game you will meet fellow mercenaries who intend to help you. If you happen to get mortally wounded in battle one of your buddies will swoop in and pull you to safety and help you until you are no longer in combat. If you buddy is wounded in the process they will writhe on the ground until you end their suffering, either with morphine or death. Death is final for your allies so it’s best to keep up with them. Buddies will also assist in main missions, giving you alternative means of acting on the objective.
Beavis would love this game. Enemies can be pushed back to where they came from with a Molotov in the tall grass. Fire will roar and crackle as it grows and begins climbing the trees. Ubisoft surely intended this to be a prominent feature as they give you a flamethrower early on and everything seems to burn.
Getting around the map is not as engaging as it could be. You can walk, drive, boat, or take the bus. The bus is this game’s iteration of fast travel, allowing you to travel to and from 5 locations (4 in the corners and 1 in the center). I am almost surprised I ever used the bus at all, as it does not usually get me much closer to the objective than I was to begin with.
Cars and boats are faster than walking of course, but all there is to see between compounds is grass and trees. This would be a much shorter game if it were not for having to travel all the map for the entirety of it. The only cool thing about getting around is the map itself, as you must physically pull it out and look through it.
Plant and Animal Life
This game fails where later games in the series succeed when it comes to animal life. Only a couple of herbivores made their way into the final product: zebras, buffaloes, goats, chickens. They play no role in the game other than grazing and running away.
Unlike the animals, the foliage adds much to the atmosphere of the game. The greenage is dense in the jungle areas, the grass is dry and flammable in the savanna, and if you happen to fire a mounted machine gun into the jungle, you will mow plants down. The environment of the game was not meant to be much more than something to look at, but it does do that well.
Saving in the Far Cry 2 is not easy. You will have to find a save point on the wall and do it manually. These can be found at bus stations, primary points of interest (Mike’s Bar, faction clubhouses), and safe houses. Safe houses are marked on the map and are essential for getting around. After killing its current inhabitants, you can claim it for yourself. They can then be rested at, upgraded, and can house a buddy to help you in your time of need.
The game’s primary currency and the only reason to explore the map. Most will be obtained by missions but finding them throughout the world is also possible. Some of these will tell little stories with the positions they are found in, showing the incompetence of some smugglers. I really liked the idea of looking for these diamonds, but actually doing it grew boring pretty fast.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics in Far Cry 2 are nothing to write home about, but they serve their purpose well enough. Everything is tinted brown; I suppose to instill the desert atmosphere. There is never a silent moment in the game either. There are always bugs chirping, water flowing, and Zebras calling in the distance. These components come together to create a great atmosphere for the plot and setting. I have a fond memory of booting up the game to me crouching in a field in the night, the wind blowing through the grass, and a rifle imposed over it all. This game can be beautiful at times.
Far Cry 2 does a few things well and more than a few things subpar. Overall, it captures a sense of loneliness and hardship that the others in the series failed to. On the other hand, it also squeezes the player for all it can, relying on their capacity to withstand long walks in the sand and searching the bushes for downed enemies. This game more than any other could benefit from a good remake, adding the hunting and stealth of newer Far Cry games. Maybe it will happen someday, until then if you like immersive and punishing shooters you will enjoy playing Far Cry 2.
- Gritty Combat
- Thick Atmosphere
- Repetitive Gameplay
- Walking Simulator