Perfectly acceptable, but not necessarily enjoyable
GraphicsThe graphics for Far Cry 2 are very impressive. And I do mean that. They really are very impressive. For a game made in 2008, you will be impressed. Actually, even by the standards of 2010, this game has superb graphics. Character models are detailed and feel more real than those of more recent games. Vehicles may not seem that textured, but you really shouldn't be concentrating on that. Weapons look standard fare. They might not be as detailed as those in other games, but when they become more degraded you will see more detail on them. But the game needs credit for the one thing it does better than any other game I've ever played: fire.
That's right. Fire. Far Cry 2 features some of the most realistic fire ever used in a videogame. Fire flickers and looks extremely realistic. Not only this, it also reacts realistically. If you light some of the grass or bushes on fire when exploring, fire will spread. You can make great ambushes for the enemies, should you choose to do so. But lighting stuff up is a real joy regardless. And should you wait until the fire is done ravaging everything, you will find that what was torched is now black and dead.
The story in Far Cry 2 is hardly incredible, but it’s good enough to give you reason for everything. You play as a mercenary in Africa during a civil war. You must kill the arms dealer who armed the two different factions. However, to get close to him, you must complete different missions for the factions. As I said, the story isn’t amazing, but it’s more than sufficient for a first person shooter / sandbox game. It might not be a very engaging story, but the ending to it at the very least, is definitely unique so it's good for that reason alone.
The gameplay in Far Cry 2 is pretty good, if not pretty basic. You’re given different missions to undertake, such as ‘Kill person at specified location’, like most other games. However, there is a unique twist in Far Cry 2. You can make friends, who can then help you in combat amongst other things. These friends will call you during a mission and tell you to meet them at a certain place. Meeting them at the specified location will give you a secondary objective, which could make the primary objective much easier. While this may make the primary objective easier, you'll be forced to drive a long distance to your friend's location, before driving back to the location of the secondary objective, completing it, and then completing the primary objective. Before your friend inevitably calls to ask for your assistance. The amount of time that the game takes for you to complete both objectives can be 40 minutes, and even longer if you mess up. Some missions can take an hour or more if you choose to take a friend's side mission.
Unfortunately, just like the missions themselves, travelling in Far Cry 2 is an extremely boring experience. You have a huge area to travel around - it is somewhere in the region of 50 square kilometers, which is a lot for a game. The worst part is that you aren't really given a choice as to whether or not you will explore the environment, because most of the objectives are in an area where you have no choice but to take the long route. Yes, it works. But it just doesn't work as well as other games do.
Unlike most games, you don’t simply grab a weapon off an enemy’s corpse. You can do that, of course, but you can buy your own weapons from the black market using the profits of missions: blood diamonds. Each weapon can be upgraded with a bandolier (holds more ammo), increased accuracy, and reliability. These upgrades are nowhere near as deep as, say Call of Duty: World at War – but they’re not intended to be. They’re a simple way to improve your weapon, not something that will allow other players to see your accomplishments. At the end of the upgrade path, odds are everyone will be using the same, or very similar weapons at least. Due to the limited upgrade path it restricts players from really showing their skill with their weapons. Unlike other games, Far Cry 2 packs a unique feature, in the form of 'weapon condition'. As you use a weapon, its condition degrades, until the point where the gun itself could either jam up, or explode. It is a unique feature, and it also carries across to online. While it can be amusing in single player, it is an extremely frustrating experience online, because more often than not, someone will score a cheap kill on you as you desperately try to unjam your rifle. While tapping the reload button will unjam the weapon, it takes a long time to do, and generally it is simply easier to sprint over, melee someone and then steal his gun.
Another gripe of mine with the game is that the map system doesn't work well enough. Maps are presented to you as a board with an image on it, and then you can flick through some other boards and see different magnifications of the area you're in. The problem with this system is that the map is too general. During one mission, for example, there is an objective that appears to be on a mountain. So, logic dictates that the mountain is where you go, and you use the convenient path up the side of the mountain. But no, you have to go past a village by the mountain, shoot your way through there, and find an objective that simply looks like it's on the mountain.
Like all modern games, an online multiplayer mode is a must-have. Far Cry 2 is no exception, and the game has a multiplayer mode you can play as soon as you put the disc in. Multiplayer in Far Cry 2 consists of several modes: Capture the Diamond, Uprising, Team Deathmatch, and a few others. The online has a few maps created, and these are all good. The online experience is similar to older Call of Duty titles. Rather than allowing you to pick weapons and stuff, you select a class. These classes determine what weapons are available to you. Far Cry 2’s multiplayer is functional, and you’ll likely enjoy it the first time you try it. Whether you’ll want another go at it or not though is a different matter.
Unfortunately, when trying to find other games to join, the lobby system for Far Cry 2 exposes its flaws. Over 50% of the players must select the 'Ready' button, so that the game will count down and eventually put you in the match. This is a serious problem, because you'll always get people who will click Ready, and then during the countdown, they will change their minds, just to slow down the matchmaking process. This is extremely infuriating, and personally put me off the online aspect to the game very quickly. Online is class based, should you get into a match. You'll get regular riflemen, and snipers, and several cool variations. It's a good enough system, but due to the fact you only get a choice of three primary weapons, three secondaries, and three special weapons, it becomes somewhat restrictive. Not only this, the idea of upgrading a weapon is an unusual concept, because generally, the final weapon you unlock in a class is the best, and you have no reason to select anything else.
The controls in Far Cry 2 are well designed and well laid out. Everything is easily accessible, and most of the things you need can be accessed within three button presses. The controls don’t feel loose, and they’re easy to use. For example, a quick tap up on the d-pad will bring up your machete. The controls are also very ‘noob friendly’ – anyone can pick this game up and have the control scheme mastered within about 30 minutes.
The controls in a vehicle in Far Cry 2 are impressive. They’re not as realistic as a simulator, but they are good. Cars are controlled through the first person viewpoint, which is very cool. You see all the little details this way, such as the movement of the steering wheel, and the speedometer needle moving. You can also look around to see if there are enemies on your tail. Driving in this game is a lot of fun, but it’d be even better if players didn’t have to spend so long doing it.
1. The only perfect balance of speed and strength is the militia truck, because it has a mounted machine gun.
2. No matter how fast you're going, the AI will 'rubber band', and catch up to you miraculously.
Due to the rubber banding, a lot of the excitement of being chased by enemies is gone. A chase is only really entertaining in a game if you can get away. If you're being chased by enemies in Far Cry 2, the only way to escape is to pull over and start firing at them. The same flaw presents itself in older Need for Speed titles, and it really does make trying to drive quickly and escape a pointless strategy, because you'll always be caught up with in the end.
Due to the fact this is an Xbox 360 game, the review has to take into consideration one thing extra: achievements. And Far Cry 2 doesn't really seem to know if it wants to reward you, or punish you, sadly. You can get a lot of achievements from doing side missions. Unfortunately, side missions take as long as standard missions, and occasionally longer. So basically, you're rewarded for traveling a lot, and then getting a mission, before traveling again to complete the mission, before traveling again to say you completed the mission. And then you have to do this multiple times for the achievement, because generally it isn't "Complete one side mission", it's "Complete all of x side mission". This really isn't fair for those who can't get on their console enough, because these achievements will take at least 50 hours if you plan to get the full 1000 Gamerpoints available. Completing the story alone will get you some of the sweet, sweet points, but it won't give you nearly enough to compare with people who did the side missions as well. It's a real drag to get the full 1000, and one that most people will probably never force themselves to do.