Welcome (Back) to the Jungle - The Enduring Appeal of Far Cry 2

Posted by Egge (446 posts) -

  

    
 
I played through Far Cry 2 on the PS3 back in 2009 and consider myself to be a pretty big fan of the game, which means I couldn't resist getting the Ubisoft Weekend Deal on Steam yesterday when I saw that FC2 was included in it. Separately the game is normally priced at around 12,5€ and that's a bit steep for just one game that I've already finished, but the inclusion of Bound in Blood and Vegas 2 - both of which I haven't played - sweetened the deal quite a bit.
 
Much like Mirror's Edge - another one of my absolute favorite games from the past few years - Ubisoft's radical departure from Crytek's original (and largely forgettable) Far Cry is a brave but not always successful attempt at redefining what the first person action genre can and should be all about. The constant guard patrol skirmishes, awkwardly procedural narrative structure and pretentious references to Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness are among the game's most notable flaws, but Far Cry 2 features what's easily one of the few truly memorable and genuinely meaningful open worlds of any video game thus far. On a superficial level, the African settings provide a healthy dose of escapism and showcase an impressively modified CryEngine capable of producing a lot of vegetation, complex fire effects and huge draw distances. Even the stupid diamond scavenging is curiously addictive thanks to the lively, detailed and atmospheric environments in which they are situated. From a mechanical standpoint, most open world games are either dumbed down RPGs or generic action adventures, but Far Cry 2 builds its open-ended exploration on top of solid foundation of robust shooter gameplay which compares favorably to most linear FPSs in terms of basic controls and overall design etc.

More subtly, though, the relentless brutality of a game world in which everyone who lives and breathes pretty much is guaranteed to be hostile combines rather effectively with the sheer gruesome physicality of the action (pulling bullets out of your own legs, succumbing to creepy malaria attacks etc.) to produce a relentlessly grim experience which reinforces the plot's otherwise heavy-handed message about the senselessness of modern combat in the third world. At the end of the day, there's a real sense that the game doesn't merely use an exotic location just because it can; but that the gameplay and settings are instead purposefully integrated to produce a certain effect and atmosphere.
 
It may be difficult to discern at times, but Far Cry 2's enemy AI also has a bit more realism to it than most shooters. It's not necessarily more difficult - although it can be - but the AI has something approaching a normal field of vision, which is definitely a rarity within the genre. In most action games, as soon as the enemy knows someone is shooting at them they are able to magically pinpoint the player's exact location and immediately start their counterattack. In Far Cry 2, a sudden explosion is just that; a clear indication that something bad is happening, but unless it is completely obvious where the attack is coming from the enemies are simply going to be scared and confused (at least for awhile, anyway). And as I understand it, the time of day and plays a huge role in determining both enemy FOV and the different behavorial scripts being applied to any given situation, making Far Cry 2 a game that feel like a dynamic open world in more ways than one...

Also, what's up with that crazy high-tech fire-spewing crossbow thingie? I don't remember it from playing through the PS3 game so I assume it's part of the Fortune Pack DLC (which I don't think I ever got around to buying).  
#1 Posted by Egge (446 posts) -

  

    
 
I played through Far Cry 2 on the PS3 back in 2009 and consider myself to be a pretty big fan of the game, which means I couldn't resist getting the Ubisoft Weekend Deal on Steam yesterday when I saw that FC2 was included in it. Separately the game is normally priced at around 12,5€ and that's a bit steep for just one game that I've already finished, but the inclusion of Bound in Blood and Vegas 2 - both of which I haven't played - sweetened the deal quite a bit.
 
Much like Mirror's Edge - another one of my absolute favorite games from the past few years - Ubisoft's radical departure from Crytek's original (and largely forgettable) Far Cry is a brave but not always successful attempt at redefining what the first person action genre can and should be all about. The constant guard patrol skirmishes, awkwardly procedural narrative structure and pretentious references to Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness are among the game's most notable flaws, but Far Cry 2 features what's easily one of the few truly memorable and genuinely meaningful open worlds of any video game thus far. On a superficial level, the African settings provide a healthy dose of escapism and showcase an impressively modified CryEngine capable of producing a lot of vegetation, complex fire effects and huge draw distances. Even the stupid diamond scavenging is curiously addictive thanks to the lively, detailed and atmospheric environments in which they are situated. From a mechanical standpoint, most open world games are either dumbed down RPGs or generic action adventures, but Far Cry 2 builds its open-ended exploration on top of solid foundation of robust shooter gameplay which compares favorably to most linear FPSs in terms of basic controls and overall design etc.

More subtly, though, the relentless brutality of a game world in which everyone who lives and breathes pretty much is guaranteed to be hostile combines rather effectively with the sheer gruesome physicality of the action (pulling bullets out of your own legs, succumbing to creepy malaria attacks etc.) to produce a relentlessly grim experience which reinforces the plot's otherwise heavy-handed message about the senselessness of modern combat in the third world. At the end of the day, there's a real sense that the game doesn't merely use an exotic location just because it can; but that the gameplay and settings are instead purposefully integrated to produce a certain effect and atmosphere.
 
It may be difficult to discern at times, but Far Cry 2's enemy AI also has a bit more realism to it than most shooters. It's not necessarily more difficult - although it can be - but the AI has something approaching a normal field of vision, which is definitely a rarity within the genre. In most action games, as soon as the enemy knows someone is shooting at them they are able to magically pinpoint the player's exact location and immediately start their counterattack. In Far Cry 2, a sudden explosion is just that; a clear indication that something bad is happening, but unless it is completely obvious where the attack is coming from the enemies are simply going to be scared and confused (at least for awhile, anyway). And as I understand it, the time of day and plays a huge role in determining both enemy FOV and the different behavorial scripts being applied to any given situation, making Far Cry 2 a game that feel like a dynamic open world in more ways than one...

Also, what's up with that crazy high-tech fire-spewing crossbow thingie? I don't remember it from playing through the PS3 game so I assume it's part of the Fortune Pack DLC (which I don't think I ever got around to buying).  
#2 Posted by RagingLion (1365 posts) -

I share your love for Far Cry 2 (and Mirror's Edge for that matter).  Definitely appreciate the fidelity of the world that was created and the freedom it gives you to make real choices about how you're going to approach situations.  It's a really beautiful world to explore too and I definitely appreciated the range of of well-realised environments.
 
Playing Mass Effect 2 at the moment.  That's of course a wildly different game to Far Cry 2 but I'm wondering if I'll end up deciding that the gameplay FC2 offers ends up being more satisfying to my tastes than the tightly scripted ME2 plot.  Not sure at present.

#3 Posted by Equal_Opportunity_Destroyer497 (560 posts) -

I also share in your love of this game. I actually threw it in my 360 and installed it the other day but only played through the opening, as it dawned on me how big of a commitment another playthrough would be. The dynamic nature of the world always impressed me and made for a lot of crazy and intense moments. A flawed gem if there ever was one.

#4 Posted by Bucketdeth (8024 posts) -

Although a ton of people hated Far Cry 2 I was also one of those who thought it was great, had a lot of fun with it. 

#5 Posted by ShaneDev (1696 posts) -

Things like the weapons degrading super quickly, the tough guards with bullet proof t-shirts, the roaming jeeps that appear out of thin air and behind bushes and the guard posts that after being totally destroyed can return to being fully manned after about two minutes, the story which was awful and the sped up voice work are some of the things I really hated about this game. The game is also probably one of the most gamey games of the last few years, for instance two faction in a civil war have there HQ's across the street from each other in a country that has no civilians or infrastructure of any kind. The game tries to be deep about conflicts in Africa but justs comes off sounding stupid, for example the Jackal talks about child soldiers but there are none in the game. Of all the games faults though I actually got into it and started going after every diamond and buying every gun and upgrade. I did all the side missions in the southern territory too. I hate, I mean I really hate so many things about this game but I enjoyed playing though it. Its very strange when I think back on it.  

#6 Posted by Grissefar (2842 posts) -

I hated Far Cry 2 and was happy to make it one of the only games I ever traded in. It felt like they made a solid 1 hour game and copypasted it over and over to make a 30 hour game. You seem to love average games in general, which is probably a blessing since there are so many of them.

#7 Posted by pweidman (2342 posts) -

@Egge:  

' a relentlessly grim experience which reinforces the plot's otherwise heavy-handed message' 
 
This sums up why I couldn't stick it out w/Far Cry tc.  That mostly, but also the endless repetition, and bugged save system  . 
 
Heh at least you got Vegas 2 which is a stellar game, and one I played for over a year.
#8 Posted by RockinKemosabe (619 posts) -

I actually liked Far Cry 2 as well, but it has some rough edges but the overall atmosphere and ambience is one of the best I've seen in video games. 

#9 Posted by MrMcJerk (44 posts) -

Convoy and assassination missions make the game.  Everything else, though...  Don't get me wrong, I love it, but there was SO much room for improvement. 

#10 Edited by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

I tried loving this game,i really did,it had kick ass weapons, AK-47, Dragunov. But in the end,it was just too repetitive,and not in the grinding kind of sense, i love myself some grinding and powerleveling if it means i get an extremely powerful character. But Far Cry 2 was just repetitive. Also,it had that Albanian guy. Could have been a truly great game though.  

#11 Posted by Vinny_Says (5719 posts) -

Everywhere I look people are hating on Far Cry and Far Cry Instincts.....
 
 
Far Cry Instincts is one of the funnest games of the last generation!

#12 Posted by Binbay55 (134 posts) -

I played Far Cry back in 08, but just rented it for a weekend. IT was great and all but, it was a really busy weekend. So last Sunday I picked it up from Future Shop and I am currently LOVING IT. The gun play is awesome the ability to have 3 really great guns that work well off each other is Awesome, the environment is AWESOME! Sure there are some things that keep it back but all the stuff that works well comes together to make a really solid and fun game. And it's a complete steal at $17 Canadian.

#13 Posted by MrMcJerk (44 posts) -

I take back everything bad I've ever said about Far Cry 2.
 
I just got attacked by a guy in a technical.  He got out of the driver's side and started shooting me.  I aimed with my M-79 grenade launcher and fired, but at that moment he hit me and threw off my aim.  Instead of hitting him with a grenade, it veered left and hit his technical.  The truck exploded, flipped through the air, and landed on him, crushing him to death.
 
YES

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