popskinz's Far Cry 2 (Xbox 360) review

Tedium and repetition detracts from Far Cry 2's intricacies.

Far Cry 2 is the kind of game that teases you. It puts you in an enourmous, sprawling African setting populated by all sorts of wildlife, lush terrains and choices to tangle with. It also boasts a terrific atmosphere and occasionally enthralling action that is a product of the stellar gunplay and weapons--of which there are many-- and some exciting missions. Sadly, Far Cry 2 also suffers from a loathsome of downtime and it probably wont take long for the game to devolve into repitition after a while. The story here is so unfocused and underwhelming that it barely even registers and you´ll gasp at the amount of traveling you will have to contend with. Far Cry 2´s pacing is decidedly uneven--fast and intense during heaps of firefights and slow and tiresome during the long stretches of walking and driving, and this is something that plauges just about every facet of the game.

The setting is Far Cry 2's biggest strength.
The story puts you in the boots of one of many, playable mercenaries and your job is to hunt down an arms dealer--doubt the "Jackal"-- who have been supplying two warring factions in an unnamed african region. The problem is that your character suffers from a severe case of malaria and things goes awry quickly when the Jackal himself shows up and taunts you, stealing your weapons and leaving you for dead as chaos errupts in town. You are then sent off on missions for one of two factions in order to gain their trust, rewards and hints about possible whereabouts of The Jackal. I am deliberately talking my way around the plot because its really nothing spectacular. It doesnt make the politically charged, African setting seem interesting and you´ll completetly forget about The Jackal about half-way through the game.

The African landscape is immersive though, and its filled with a ton of stuff to do and see. There is much wildlife to lay your eyes on, missions to undertake, stretches to walk and drive and plenty of guard posts that you can stop and deal with. The setting comes with various benefits and drawbacks--many of the missions are good and exciting, especially those that encourages a stealthy approach during night time and the rewards will keep you playing. You´ll earn diamonds to spend on weapons and you can unlock various bonuses for your safehouse and anti-biotics for your Malaria, which are crucial in order to stay alive. Thats the beauty with the setting; it feels gritty and dangerous and between your Malaria attacks and unique health system (more on this later on) it feels appropriatly realisitc, something few game worlds can accomplish.

Not all the missions are great however. There are a few ones where you have to intercept transports containing weapons and     you  have to wait for it to circle around the map if you missed it the first time around, and the gap between your mission giver and the area in which you must complete your task, is absolutetly absurd. Expect to spend 20 minutes just walking or driving to and back from your destination and while towns offer quicker methods of traveling, in form of a bus, you will have to walk and drive much more than you probably want. Even worse, every time you get in a vehicle, it takes meer seconds for other guards to begin their chase; busting up your vehicle and outright killing you if you dont pull over and deal with them personally, and it gets tiresome very, very quickly.

The tedious stretches of traveling are alleviated somewhat by the terrific atmosphere. The day-and-night cycle is outstanding and
The guy you are sent in to kill, is also the first person you are acquaintanced with.
the world looks convincing enough to draw you in. On top of that is the feeling of submission, since the health system is different from any other shooter you may have played. When you get shot-up to much you can just use a health syringe to get back in the fight. If your health drops to a critical state though, you´ll have to perform an animation that involves pulling bullets of out wounds, snapping broken arms or legs back into place and so on. It looks downright painful, but your character does not sound off a scream so you are just going to make those cringing faces for him or her.

But this is a shooter so you will be looking down the sights of various assault and sniper rifles, sub-machine guns, rocket launchers and so on. The gunplay is satisfying and the models look, feel and sound great. Realism even finds it way here since weapons will degrade overtime, prompting you to buy ones that are in good shape. If you scavenge weapons of your fallen enemies you can expect your gun to get jammed a lot, and eventually break down in its entirety. Ammo is rarely scarce though so you wont feel helpless during firefights. That may also be due to the moronic enemy artificial-"intelligence". Enemies just stand around, not reacting when their friend--who is standing right beside them--gets his head capped by your high-caliber sniper rifle and they provoke only challenge in large numbers. Also, since you constantly have to stop by guard posts and get out of your vehicle when you are getting chased, firefights start to lose some of their moxie after a while and you´ll wish that there was more enemies to fight.

The single-player campaign lasts around 30-hours, with tons of missions, mercenaries to befriend, hidden diamonds to collect and much more but there is also a multiplayer mode here aswell. Maps and modes are very by-the-numbers and the only real defining feature here is a robust map-editor that allows you to build your own fragging grounds using various buildings, entities and geometry altering tools. You have a lot of flexibility when creating maps, so once you grasp all the mechanics of the map editor, you can really do anything you want. You also earn rewards in form of weapons and classes when leveling up in the online modes, which might built some incentive, but the action is rarely all that exciting and there are far better choices out there if you are looking for some good, chaoitc multiplayer fun.

Far Cry 2 is a decent shooter that offers up a compelling setting, unique gameplay mechanics and a ton of stuff to do. Yet the traveling borderlines on insane, the shootouts never grow and there is little in the way of set-piece moments that define the experience. It has some good fun in it, but it likely wont set your world on fire and there are better options out there if you want an open-world, sandbox experience or an exciting first-person shooter to keep you hooked for months.

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