Ah, Far Cry 2. One of my most anticipated games of the year. I've been fully on board with this game ever since first reading Giantbomb's preview of it many months ago. I was excited with the new direction the series was going in, and the game's new setting in war-ridden Africa definitely peaked my interest. In fact, when reading the preview, I found that the game had quite a bit in common with a game I intend to create myself when and if I become a game designer some day. Since then, I felt confident enough with the concept of the game that I didn't pay much interest to other previews and information that followed, until the game's final reviews. The reviews came out and it did pretty good, but not quite as well as I had hoped. I've also read a lot of negative comments about the games from forum users. So I finally got my hands on the game, and I've probably put between 5 to 10 hours into playing it and am now officially pulling the plug.
Far Cry 2 has been one of the most frustrating, and at times one of the most downright stupid games I have played all year. It's a shame too, there seems to be a lot of quality to be found in the game, but some nagging problems have pushed me to the edge and as a result, I'll never get to see much of the good this game may have to offer. As early as the game's tutorial mission, I found myself getting incredibly annoyed and frustrated by some stupid design choices. In one part of this mission, you're supposed to drive down to Mike's Bar. That's not too hard. By this point you have most of the basics of the gameplay figured out, and are given a map with the location of this bar, as well as a car. Driving there wasn't a problem. When you get there, you find the Bar has two entrances, yet neither of them can be opened. What the heck? Your goal is to get into this bar, but you can't open the door. So then you check to make sure this is actually the bar, and it is, and you start looking for some alternate entrance you may have missed, but find nothing. Then you start thinking a little. Hmm.. maybe the door is locked and if I shoot out the knob and lock, I can push it open. Of course that doesn't work. Let me pull out my assault rifle and shoot the thing down. Hit it with a grenade. Melee attack it with my knife! Dude, nothing is working. Hey, there's some explosive barrels kinda close to the back entrance, let's see if I can use those to blow off the door. Negative. Okay, obviously this isn't working and I gotta do something else. I jump into the jeep nearby that has a gun turret attached on the back. I'm supposed to meet someone in this bar, so clearly somebody must be inside. I start shooting the bar with the turret, ramming the side of the bar, anything I can that might cause dudes to run out. Okay, it's very apparent that I'm missing something here. I start checking through the pause menu, looking through logs and whatever I can find to see if I actually missed something. Nothing of any use is there to help me. I start searching all the small, vacant buildings nearby. I find a gun shop, but the owner isn't there. There's also a computer inside that I can use to buy better weapons, but considering how I don't have much money as it is, I don't do it and go back outside and run all over the place, desperately looking for some way to get into that God forsaken bar! I'm well beyond the point of not having fun. I'm hating every single minute that I can't seem to get inside to fulfill my objective. Something is definitely wrong, but the answer isn't so clear. Finally, the answer presents itself when I pause the game again, it seems now that I entered the gun store, my objective has changed, and I must buy a new gun, for no apparent reason. I go back inside, reluctantly buy a new gun, and magically, I can now open the back door of the bar. SUCCESS! How unnecessarily stupid and frustrating was that? It's a miracle I didn't stop playing the game after that, but like I said, this is one game I was really stoked about playing, so I wasn't going to give up that easy. Sure, maybe it took me unusually long to figure out the problem, but dude, what the freaking heck? I was told to go into Mike’s Bar, not go into the gun shop near Mike’s Bar and buy a new weapon. Besides, I’m armed with a freaking rocket launcher, I’m good to go. I already got all I need, except for maybe some correct directions from these incompetent game designers.
Then, the frustration continues inside the bar. I go in, meet up with the friend I rescued earlier and make a new ally as well. There's also some obnoxious dude that calls me a "jack boot" every time I go near him. Apparently he's supposed to give me something, and he says something that makes me think he set this thing down on the table for me to grab or something, but when he said it, I was looking away as I was scoping out the bar. Okay, there's nothing on the table, what, did he drop it? So I'm checking the floor, checking the nearby table, and anywhere in the vicinity. This guy is obviously a jerk and is insulting me for no reason, for all I know, he could have thrown it on the ground somewhere. I'm checking all over this stupid bar, and nothing. Every time I approach him, he's calling me a "jack boot" again and I'm wanting to beat the living heck out of him for it but combat is disabled inside buildings, so I can't. My friend can't seem to help, my objective hasn't been updated, what the heck is going on here?! Frustration continues to build, eventually I just exit the bar thinking I'm done there, but it turns out I'm not. I go back in and go up to this punk, wanting to punch him in the face, he calls me a jack boot again, but I'm still standing there next to him, and he says a new line of dialogue. Whoa! Then surely I must have stepped back, only to be called a "jack boot" once again when I reapproached him. Well, I had figured it out. It turns out that every time I take a step away from the dude, his whole dialogue resets, therefore I must stand still next to him and listen to every word he says. After a few lines, he pulls out a tape recorder, sets it on the table, and I can grab it. Finally. Jesus Cripes, dude. How does that happen in games? How does that get overlooked by the game designers? Despite what the last 2 paragraphs may have indicated, I am a smart person. This wasn't a result of my own stupidity or anything, but poor design. No doubt many people have experienced the same problem and it amazes me no one working on the game addressed the issue. Mike's Bar alone has turned into quite a long rant. I hope by the end of the game, that place burns down and that "jack boot" slangin' fool dies in a horrible, horrible death.
Moving along... I got past that and played the game a bit further. Throughout that time, I discovered that I have some problems with many of the implemented game mechanics in Far Cry 2. Take for instance, traveling. Now, Far Cry 2 has a very large map. In fact, I haven't even see more than half of it. Apparently you open up two additional large territories as you progress further in the story. Nevertheless, it is huge. Also, it's not very linear or ideal for traveling. Nearly all the roads are curvy, dirt roads surrounded by trees and foilage, that lead you through enemy camp after enemy camp. Now, there is a form of instant travel, if you can get to it. On this map, there are 5 bus locations you can go to, which can instantly warp you to any other bus location. However, five isn't that many, and although it helps, you'll have to go out of your way to the bus station to warp you to the bus stop closest to the objective, which will still likely be quite far away. Here's where traveling becomes a major hassle. You're going to need to use a vehicle since the map is so large and your guy can't sprint very fast or very long distances. The sprinting also seemed a little glitchy and inconsistent, by the way, but anyway, you drive along these maze-like roads and repeatedly come across enemy camps. Oh, and guess what? Every single freaking person in this game will shoot you on sight, no matter what. With the exception of one neutral no-fire zone in the middle of the map, every other person I encountered wanted me dead and I have no idea why. I’m freaking dying of malaria as it is, leave me the heck alone, ya jerks! Can a malaria-stricken man travel through in peace? Yeesh! It goes even further than that, though. Not only do they attack on sight, but if you’re anywhere within the same vicinity of these dudes, they automatically know where you are. This is a trait that I think is becoming far too common in games these days. It was something I suspected fairly early on in the game, then I ran into one instance that proved it is totally true. I found like a vacant shack somewhere, I arrived on foot, and you got these gun-turret equipped jeeps that seem to just randomly drive along dirt roads, and every so often, you’ll encounter them and they’re a total pain. So I’m in this shack for a few minutes, checking it out… I hear a car approaching from the distance so I crouch down out of sight. Sure enough, as soon as the vehicle gets near, the gunner is shooting right at me despite the fact that I’m hidden in a dark shack, completely out of sight to him. God, I freaking hate this stupid game.
So you got these frequent enemy camps, with their Superman-see-through-vision-soldiers and all, not to mention they have shockingly good aim, and you can either get out of your car and wipe them all out, or try to drive past them. Either way, you’re screwed. Go ahead, get out and kill them, but what happens? You really start to run out of ammo. You don’t seem to be able to carry too much, though certainly the enemies you just killed have plenty of ammo for you to use. Well, kinda, but not quite. The game discourages you from using enemy weapons because they regularly get jammed, and in some cases, they break entirely. Ah great. That’s cool. If you drive past, well, your car isn’t going to make it long past two of these camps. You’re almost always trailed by a car with a gunner who is pretty much impossible to escape (there seems to be some major rubber-band effect going on here to keep them close to you), and you have to stop your car to switch to the gunner seat, and even though it can be done without actually getting out of your car, your vehicle is going to take some severe damage. So yeah, after just a couple of these enemy encounters, you’re going to need to get a new vehicle because yours is going to explode. Now, apparently there’s a trick to fix your car, which I was completely unaware of. I actually found out through Giantbomb’s never-ending trivia. I guess you can get out of your vehicle, pop open the hood, and turn a bolt to magically repair your car. They kind of demonstrate this right at the beginning of the game, however, in that particular instance, you’re installing a car battery and then turn a bolt and can drive it. I may be wrong here, but I don’t recall any sort of indication being explained in the game that this could be done to repair cars. Besides, it makes absolutely no sense. If a car is on fire, pop open the hood, turn a bolt, and presto! Voila! Just like new! Man, if you guys are still following at this point, you’re really awesome. I hate to say it, but there’s still a whole lot more I intend to rant about. Okay, in fact, I’m going to make this a two-parter. This ends the beginning of my rant. Tune in some time later for the next installment of why Far Cry 2 is totally whack.
Edit: Forget it, there's no way I'm wasting my time writing a second part to this rant about a lousy game. Sorry to disappoint you all so greatly. Please, try to be strong.