FarCry 2 makes a good first impression, but soon leaves you bored
FarCry2 is the sequel to the 2004 First-Person-Shooter that was praised for its high level of AI and enemy behaviour which brought a whole new strand of realism to the game that helped the player feel as if he was Jack Carver. FarCry2 doesn’t leave that behind, although it is plagued by travel times, gameplay issues and repetitive combat sequences. It improves on immersion so much that when you see one of your AI friends (or “buddies” as the game calls them) get shot down by a jeep-mounted machine gun you can’t help but feel desperate to go over and aid them.
Then comes the hard part. In that particular situation you have multiple options of what to do. If you have some syrettes you can give them an injection to get them back on their feet. If not you have two choices, abandon them and leave them to die or pull out your sidearm and put them out of their misery. Of course it is much better to keep your buddies alive as the next time you are hit by a car or killed in any way you will open your eyes to the buddy standing over you shooting at enemies and shortly after, carrying you to safety.
At the start of the game you choose a character to play from a selection of nine, each of these have their own distinct look and background although there seems to be no difference to actual in-game health and speed. The other eight become possible Buddies you can meet on your travels and use to help complete missions. After that you begin a long car ride into the war torn region, your objective being to assassinate “The Jackal”, a ruthless and brutal arms dealer who has been supplying both sides of the conflict with equipment and weapons. Near the end of the drive you contract Malaria and lose consciousness, you wake up in a hotel with the town at war. I won’t say anymore about the story for risk of spoiling it.
Main missions can be collected from the starting town and side missions can be undertaken from Mike’s bar (the buddy hangout), cellular antennas around the map as well as from weapon shops to unlock more weapons and upgrades to purchase.
The graphics and world of FarCry2 are just plain beautiful, from the way the bushes and trees sway to the way the wildebeest and zebras run from your jeep driving down a sandy road kicking up dust in your wake, and the whole thing looks much better if you set it alight, well at least I think so. The water is also very well done, the murky reflections of rocks and trees help bring the game to life. Disappointingly, though, a climb feature has been omitted so much of the beauty of the world has to be witnessed from ground level or atop a small hill.
Scattered around the map are over 200 diamond cases that you can find using your PDA, on which a flashing light appears if you are looking in the right direction and within about 150 feet of the case.
Diamonds let you buy upgrades for weapons to increase your ammo capacity and accuracy, but also to decrease recoil, unjam time and degradation rate. You can also buy the 25+ weapons there, of which you can carry 4 at a time. Firstly there is a locked slot that contains your trusty machete, then a secondary weapon slot that can include anything from an IED to a flare gun, then a primary weapon slot that holds your conventional normal two-handed guns: snipers, shotguns and assault rifles. Finally a special weapons slot that holds Rockets, LMGs, a Flamethrower, a Mortar and a silent Dart Rifle filled with elephant tranquilizers, of which there is enough to overdose your target in one shot. All of these guns can become dirty over time and that leads to jamming and after prolonged use exploding in your hands.
Although there is a rather feeble selection of vehicles you probably won’t get bored of them, you have your normal cars, jeeps, trucks, boats and buggys. If these get damaged in battle you simply run up to the engine and repair it, the repair time takes roughly 5 to 15 seconds, depending on the extent of the damage and whether you purchased the repair manual for that particular vehicle.
When you are shot or take large amounts of damage you can heal by injecting yourself with a syrette or if the wound is critical you watch as your player performs a grizzly animation like extracting a bullet with his teeth or a knife and pliers, or popping your elbow back in its socket. Keeping a good supply of Malaria medication is almost as important as healing bullet wounds in FarCry, because if you keep it unchecked your player will grow weaker and eventually faint.
Sneaking is a little awkward at times. At first enemies seem to spot you from 100 feet away if you are crouched in a bush. But once you get the hang of it you can wipe out an enemy encampment with just a silent pistol. Combat in general feels quite stiff but you can compensate for that with a bit of practice and a well placed IED. Fire is a new feature, since much of Africa is quite dry there is plenty of yellow grass to burn. Although it is very risky to use fire, when everything goes right and an enemy patrol runs into a field you can simply throw a Molotov either side of them and watch from a nearby hill as the burning consumes some and the others flee into the killing zone of an IED that you placed earlier. Even though these moments are very rare in FarCry2 they give satisfaction almost equal to completing a tough Braid puzzle.
Multiplayer is good fun, with a class system similar to Battlefield: BC. You can pick from 6 different classes ranging from an all-guns-blazing LMG to the deadly Dart Rifle sniper. Lag seems to be a small problem with no glitches. The game ships with few multiplayer maps but includes an amazing map editor that has an incredible amount of features and objects to place. You could create any of your favourite CoD4 maps and then stick explosive barrels everywhere, or replicate the Great Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower.
In the end FarCry2 has a single player that should last you at least 25 hours and an online element that is only limited by your imagination. Although the game has astoundingly good graphics and several innovative features, the bad shooting mechanics, mediocre gameplay, and long, boring travel times hold back what could have been a strong contender for game of the year.