Giant Bomb Review

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Far Cry 2 Review

4
  • X360

This sequel trades mutant-infested islands for a war-torn African savanna with mostly positive results.

It's a jungle out there.
The first thing you need to know about Far Cry 2 is that it has nothing to do with the original Far Cry. That means no tropical islands, no Jack Carver, and especially no silly mutant outbreaks derailing the gameplay halfway through. In place of those things, you get an unnamed African nation torn apart by civil war, a hierarchy of ambitious local warlords, a group of profiteering mercenaries doing all the dirty work, and a sprawling mission-based open world. Some elements of the travel and combat can get frustrating from time to time, but digging into the available weapons arsenal and exploring a variety of combat tactics will yield a dynamic experience that happens to look downright beautiful.

You're on the ground to take out a guy called the Jackal, an American arms dealer who's supplying the weapons that are fueling the ongoing conflict. He'll drop in now and again, mostly when you're incapacitated, to dispense some wartime philosophy and manipulate events behind the scenes. There's more to the Jackal's motivations than acquisition of wealth, as you'll discover over the course of the game. His activities weave in and out of the larger struggle between the UFLL and the APR, the two warring factions that go through a rotating cast of leaders as their respective machinations come into play.

You can take on missions from both groups in any order, which gives the story a playing-both-sides-against-the-middle sort of feel. The outcome is generally the same regardless of which missions you do when, though. There are a few seemingly dramatic decisions required of you at key points in the story, but the effects of only one of those choices seemed truly meaningful to me after the fact. Still, the high points of the plot felt appropriately gritty and intense as they came.

Every warlord wants a piece of the pie.
The game lets you pick a playable character from a group of international mercenaries, though this choice doesn't affect the gameplay, since your own character is never shown and never speaks. But it does remove that character from the merc pool, the remainder of which goes on to populate the game world as you play. These other guys and gals will sometimes act as buddies who will join you on some missions and save you when you take a dirt nap, and you'll find them hanging out in the local watering hole to offer some extra missions.

Your current best bud will also offer alternate, longer solutions to most story missions that result in higher reputation gain in exchange for higher risk. I took every one of these suggestions because they lengthened each mission considerably, taking me to more places and often giving me more interesting things to do than a simple "go here, kill this guy" directive.

The various buddies felt interchangeable to me due to their uniformly flat, dull voiceovers, but their collective presence enlivened the game world all the same. Poor voice acting plagues all the game's characters, actually; you really have to pay attention to keep all the faction bosses straight, since their unremarkable personalities tend to run together. It's not a deal breaker, but more emotive acting would have given the story a lot more dramatic heft.

Since this is an open-world game, you have to travel--mostly behind the wheel--between quest givers, objectives, weapons dealers, safe houses, and so on. Get ready to do a lot of driving, because these things are all spread far apart. And since you get attacked at every guard checkpoint you cross, and almost constantly harassed by roving bands of soldiers en route, get ready to do an awful lot of fighting outside your mission objectives, too. The core gunplay works fine, so it's not that combat itself is problematic, but having to constantly fight off attackers when you're already driving for five or ten minutes can get tedious.

You also need to learn how to manage combat properly to keep yourself alive. The designers give no quarter to lazy players; you always need to stay in cover and remain constantly vigilant, since you often get attacked from all sides and the underbrush sometimes hides your attackers. The game's health system also requires you to dress your wounds on the fly if you're below one out of five health bars, which entails a lengthy animation. If you get shot, you get knocked out of that animation, meaning you can't heal and will probably die, so again, cover is paramount.

The combat can be frustrating but also exhilarating.
Some other irritating moments can crop up, like when an attacking jeep runs you down and kills you outright before you can dodge it. These elements annoyed me at first but also made for some exhilarating combat situations when I learned how to handle them. Lastly, there's no auto-save feature, so you are strongly encouraged to save at every available opportunity to make sure you don't lose a lot of progress to a random battlefield mishap.

The game gets a lot more fun when you start to unlock more weapons. The vendors will give you simple missions to go out and blow up rival weapons convoys (which in itself is entertaining), and with each completed mission you'll be able to purchase better and more varied assault weapons, sniper rifles, pistols, explosive devices, flamethrowers, and so on. There are numerous accuracy, reliability, and ammo upgrades for each weapon, as well as character upgrades like a camouflage suit that limits enemies' ability to see you.

I found my enjoyment of the combat scaling to the number of weapons and upgrades I bought, as I tried different combinations of the aforementioned weapon types (you can only carry three weapons at once, one from each category). Story missions pay out liberally when you accept them--and you can also earn money by doing side missions like jacking into cell phone towers and intercepting hired-hit directives from a creepy computer-distorted voice--so I never lacked for the money necessary to increase my stockpile of better weapons and upgrades.

Given the amount of traveling around you have to do, the breathtaking graphics are very much to Far Cry 2's advantage. The game offers the lushest, most realistic jungles I've seen this side of Crysis, and the liberal use of high-contrast and HDR lighting makes the most of the game's day/night cycle. It seems a little silly to fawn over a video game sunrise when one should probably be outdoors enjoying a real one, but there are a few moments of jaw-dropping splendor here and there, when the giant landscapes and sunlight combine in just the right way. There's also a good range of environments to drive through, from barren deserts to dense forests, grassy plains, and so on. You can see the wind blowing ripples through the tall grass. Little touches like that make the game a joy to look at.

No doubt this is a beautiful game.
In terms of presentation, the game is bent on making sure you see every gory detail from your character's perspective. This manifests in benign ways when you hand a manilla envelope to a warlord or climb up through a vehicle's roll cage to get into its turret. It also means you're forced to watch when your character field-dresses his or her wounds in the middle of a firefight when your health meter gets too low. These animations are quite well done but extremely painful to look at--unless you relish the sight of dislocated fingers being wrenched back into place, or bullets being dug out of a wound with a pair of pliers--so your enjoyment of these will come down to personal taste. If nothing else, it's worth pointing out that I was still seeing new variations even at the end of the game, like when my merc got a nail driven halfway in between his knuckles after an explosion. Ouch.

After you're done with the story mode, there's a decent class-based multiplayer mode here with deathmatch, capture the flag, and a hybrid VIP/control point mode. You can also advance your character's rank and available weapons over time by earning experience points, a la Call of Duty 4. Lastly, a fully featured map editor rounds out the multiplayer experience, so presumably there will be reasonably good new maps to play on ad infinitum, if the community takes to the editor. The multiplayer component certainly gets the job done, with all the fundamentals you'd expect out of a competent online shooter these days. But with more multiplayer-focused games like COD: World at War and Gears of War 2 so close on the horizon, I had a hard time wanting to stick with the online options here.

Besides, the dense, lengthy single-player experience is the real focus here and is worth the price of admission alone. You can easily spend 20 or more hours solely on the story, notwithstanding all the side missions available from weapons vendors, buddies, cell towers, and so on. There's a lot to do in Far Cry 2, and if you can get a good handle on the quirks of the almost constant combat scenarios you'll run into, the weapons variety, stunning visuals, and originality of the story and setting make for a well-rounded and satisfying shooter. Brad Shoemaker on Google+
45 Comments
Edited by RyeBread

Cool I might have to check this out.

Posted by Gunner612

Nice review

Posted by thomasvdh

I got the game on launch, and I can say that this review actually defines the game perfectly. Thanks Brad!

Posted by Penelope

I love the healing mechanics to death.

Posted by RHCPfan24

A 4/5 seems just right.  Not a perfect game, but very beautiful and a lot of fun.  It takes a bit of time to get used to, but I am enjoying it alot.

Posted by Death_Burnout

I've got a lot to say about Far Cry 2, positive things, love the game to death, but i wont say them here since i've said them other places.

Although there is one thing i'd like to say, i find the voice acting to be pretty smart, instead of going for dramatic hollywood acting, the voices just feel, real, like real people, no slow pacing, just fast fluid natural native voices, i find that adds to the immersion.

Posted by perfectblu3

My only true complaint is the arbitrary amount of driving.

Example: All of the gun dealer missions. If the dealer you accept the mission from is on the far NE side of the map, you can bet that his mission is all the way down on the lower SW side of the map. Ubisoft could have easily trimmed 5 hours of admittedly pointless driving out of this game by just organizing the geography of dealer to mission paths better.

Other than that, tremendously entertaining FPS. Good review Brad!

Posted by Media_Master

Have to get have to get !!!!

Posted by Stealthoneill

I agree, 4 stars is spot on. There are a few problems within the first few hours that will ultimately put people off digging in and getting those good weapons. Once your at a stage where you have a half decent weapon of each category in your store with accuracy upgrade, things get a little smoother.

Posted by Webby

It is a really good game but there are a few really annoying things about it. Still definetly worth playing though.

Posted by Crono

This game, for as awesome as it looks, is getting lost in the avalanche of AAA titles this year is bringing... at least for me.  The review has me wanting to go buy it, but time permitting, I'll probably only rent it if possible.

Posted by Gagewhylds

FPS = killing fools. Not annoying me at all. Beautiful game, very immersive.  Love all the potential strategy when approaching a road block or the like, gives me goosebumps. I like an IED on the road, dart rifle till they get wise, burn a grass barrier if they come on foot and blow the explosives if they come in a truck, mop up accordingly. It's safe to say I'm hooked.

Posted by burjeffton--defunct

Good Review. The game is gorgeous, and if you can get over the AI bumps and tedious driving, it's well worth the price of admission.

Posted by unholyone123

No mutants, no predator, no instincts, just lots of guns. This is the way FPS should be.

Edited by vinsanity09

I don't see why people complain about the amount of driving, just take the bus! that's what I always do, best FPS I've played in a while

Posted by mg66368

Great review Brad. 4/5 is what I would've gaved the game too.

But still, Crysis > Far Cry 2

Posted by PitifullPete

I like it that the weapon system (unlocking weapons, but also jamming weapons in combat) bring some unpredictability in the gameplay. Also the healing system is great, because you have to really pay attention not to drop too low. Should I take a srynge at 2 bars, or risk to get thrown beneath one?

Posted by Coldbrand

I don't get why they put in the weapon degradation the way they did considering how stupidly unrealistic it is.

Posted by diz

I totally agree Brad - good review.

Far Cry 2 is a grteat game once it gets going with beautiful visuals and and the option of using a mortar.

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Posted by ResonanceXu

I have to say thats a great review you've got there; you've pretty much summed up how I feel about the game, bar I do find the healing animations to be quite entertaining. The entirety of the games is focused on giving the player a realistic and organic feel, and has very much achieved this in many ways. There are a few quirks, but nothing that'll have you F'ing the game.. definitley one of 2008's must buys!!

Posted by schizogony

It seems Brad wants Far Cry 2 to be more an role playing game than a shooter.

Posted by fruitisgood

Whoever voiced the Jackal needs to take a breath in between sentences.

Posted by TomA

I have no problem completely skipping this game,partly because i am playing Crysis for the first time right now,and Far Cry is basically a dumbed down version of it.

Posted by mason

Not just the Jackal, but I'd say most of the voice acting sounds so rushed and mumbled. They all talk so monotone with no pauses that it's hard to absorb what they're saying. As a result I often feel disconnected from the story. It's a shame since the quality of the voices are pretty good, they're just directed poorly. 

I do wish the game had a greater sense of African culture. As it is, it feels kind of touristy. Environmentally authentic, but with no feeling that there's a civilization worth saving. It's just a big playground for foreign soldiers. I realize that most of the population have fled the country by the time the game starts, but I wish the game could share something about the african way of life. Hell, I'd even settle for just African military culture. Here we're more likely to meet a russian military contractor than a genuine African soldier.

I'm nitpicking, but I do love this game, warts and all. Even so, it's best played no more than one hour at a time. It's when you try playing in marathon sessions that the constant driving, guard stations/patrols and similar mission objectives get tiresome. When it's portioned out in short play sessions it feels refreshing. I haven't had this much fun with a shooter since Half Life 2.

Posted by giyanks22

Nice Review. I wanna play it bad.

Posted by MrKlorox

I liked Far Cry 2 much more than Crysis. Crysis felt more like a successor to Far Cry than FC2 itself. FC2 seemed more like its own game. This game primarily delivers in gameplay, where Crysis primarily delivered in presentation. I would like to see what GSC has in mind for STALKER now that the stakes have been risen by Ubisoft.

Posted by wrecks

Crysis is a damn fine game, but this one has it beat in almost every way. The initial frustration of the game seems almost intentional, you have to figure out the world you are in just as the character does. And getting hit from all sides all the time is probably pretty close to how it is living, nay fighting in a war-torn 3rd world country. 4/5 is probably spot on, but gets an extra point from me for getting right what other open-world shooters have failed at.

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Posted by mrdre

Great review. Not a perfect game but still lots of fun. The only problem I have right now is finding the time to play all these great games and, Gears 2 is coming out at the end of the week......

Posted by VibratingDonkey

Jeep out of nowhere™ is the most annoying game feature ever. Nearly ruins the game for me. I want to explore and check things out at my own pace, not constantly be on the lookout for people hunting me down and trying to kill me for no good reason every three minutes. Game needs jeep repellent.

Posted by AllThatBacon

Video review? Coming soon??

Posted by Blinck

Yeah very nice review I agree with every point.
By the way, there is a very minor type error " but there are a few moments of jaw-dropping splendor here and th ere" !
Cheers!

Edited by DukeTogo

Crysis is actually a dumbed down version of Far Cry if you want to get technical.  At least this game isn't a glorified tech demo with a huge DX10 or else logo on it.  If I want to fight aliens, there are better games that offer that, and Cryisis is not one of those. 

Far Cry 2 offers a unique experience of a dude going to Africa to kill other dudes for money.  It's dirty soldier of fortune business and the lack of African culture actually speaks more to the fact that these people can give a fuck where they are or who they kill, as long as they get paid.  The use of real-world weapons with actual names and the realistic nature of a small inventory is a high point for me.

It's not perfect, but for a game that gives you plenty to do and has a very unique idea, it's worth playing.

BTW, the audio bunched up with no pause between words is an old audio trick to save space.  You can go into a voice track and "find and delete" all the empty spots to save a significant amount of space on the disc.  This means you can fit more on the disc or use less compression for better quality.  The trade-off is it usually sounds mechanical and is only used in cases where you can control the playback to pause the audio playback in-engine rather than recorded "dead air".

In terms of this game it looks like they forget to do that last bit, or just didn't care.  I'm sure the game also has all the dialog in several languages, making that decision mandatory given the limited space.  Either way the dialog is the biggest issue of the game and it gives less meaning to what you're doing when everyone is so artificial.  I tend to just have subtitles on read what they say and ignore the audio part.

And right now I want to start an unofficial campaign to start calling this game "Afrika".  Since that other one isn't coming out here and this game is more "Afrika" than "Afrika" anyway.  When I hear the name Africa, I think of mercs and warlords with AKs, not photo safaris and Sony SLR cameras.

Posted by nailerr

For PS3 owners I'd like to add simply that although that version of the game is apparently prone to dropping a frame or two more than the 360 every now and then, it really is every now and then.  Otherwise the game runs perfectly.  So don't fret!

Posted by Stevokenevo

this makes me even more happy i just ordered a BFG GTX 260 that comes with a free copy of this game!  stoked to play it now.

Edited by Cubical

I seen the console versions they look and play like crap and no where near as good as crysis or farcry 2 on PC Besides the crappy framerate. It looks like the PC game stuck in between low and meduim detail settings and is just ugly, the texture detail and lack of AA or AF is the worst.


Farcry 2 on the PC almost looks as good as Crysis or Crysis warhead the console ports not even close. Why are they reviewing a port and not the real Pc game with it?


and A lot of stores gave away farcry 1 as a free download promo with the game the PC version is better value and cost less.

Posted by Phantom112

Nice Review. I rented Far Cry and it was really fun.  I might get it.

Posted by superezekiel

4/5 is the perfect score for this game. I love it to death, but it definitely has a few flaws that keep it from being perfect. Like there needs to be a few more inventive multiplayer modes, and maybe a few things to level the frustration in single player. But, even with limited options, the multiplayer is an absolute blast, with amazingly inventive levels already being pumped out (who knew Helms Deep would be such a popular idea? and it would be done so well?) and the immersion carries over perfectly, with a very unique and strategic way to gain health back in a very CoD, Halo way, with a Far Cry twist.

And the single player is FANTASTIC. I love it to death, I'm addicted to the PC version right now, but I'm getting the 360 version for Xmas (PC version has NOBODY online, don't get it if you were looking forward to online play and awesome created maps, there's nothing there for you :( )

Edited by Breadcrab

Excellent review. Far cry 2 is Great, but not perfect, because of some flaws (Fixing cars, some of the combat, etc.). a solid 4/5.

Edited by Aaox

Jeep out of nowhere™ is a B*TCH.

Posted by NinjaMunkey

Farcry 2 is a very good game. Though I personally just could not play it as you spend so much time endlessly driving and fixing vehicles after going through outposts. Its not that i cant be bothered I really enjoyed travelling in oblivion but whilst this game does look good i never found the scenery interesting.


Its very good but just not for me.

Posted by Luthorcrow

I think I would say although the review is fair it definitely is kind to a fault.  My personal take is Far Cry 2 makes a better coaster than a game.  Its sort a of the Grapenuts of games.  Not something you want to eat but doesn't taste bad enough to make you spit it out.

Sadly, if you got it on Steam like myself you don't even have a cup coaster. ;(

Posted by Sooty

This got 4 stars? Well that's Brad's credibility out the window.

Posted by yoshimitz707
@Ygg said:
" This got 4 stars? Well that's Brad's credibility out the window. "
Yeah! How could Brad possibly like a game you didn't like! Stating his honest opinion really just destroys his credibility.
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Posted by Sooty
@yoshimitz707 said:
" @Ygg said:
" This got 4 stars? Well that's Brad's credibility out the window. "
Yeah! How could Brad possibly like a game you didn't like! Stating his honest opinion really just destroys his credibility. "
I know right? To me this is the Tron: Legacy of video games: mind numbingly dull with about as much character as a sponge.
Posted by Sunesha

A very underrated game.