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Review: Far Cry 2 (PC)

I love Far Cry 2. I've played 20+ hours of the game in at least four separate stretches, first on Xbox 360, and then twice on PC, both times reaching a point where there were no missions left available, and chalking that up to a game-killing bug.

This time I critical-pathed it and was finally able to finish the game. I'm pretty sure that one of the two times I had played it on PC before, I probably just couldn't find the objective at the game's choke point because it was up a ladder that I didn't realize was there (oddly, you have to go up that ladder earlier in the game, so not sure why I wouldn't have realized it was there).

Even acknowledging aside the possibility of missions just breaking because you can't find the quest-giver (I did not encounter this at all in my final playthrough, in previous playthroughs it was normally fixed by doing a resistance mission, so I suspect that one of the conditions the game uses is to check if you have at least one malaria pill, if you don't you can't engage a new mission), FC2 is definitely among the all-time great games. The open world is fully realized, but not as cluttered as Far Cry 3 or Assassin's Creed are. Some of the things you find in the more recent open world games, like factions that are continuously battling one another in remote locations of the world (Skyrim and FC3 are probably the best examples of it, but even Oblivion had predator/prey behavior modeled, and occasionally had spontaneous lawbreaker/lawman behavior) are not present in FC2, so it's not quite as dynamic, and has a tendency to feel extremely hostile to your presence (every vehicle contains an enemy, those who are neutral are in fixed indoor locations, and allies only appear in the external world when you have been lowered to zero health, every major crossroads has a checkpoint for one of the factions, and almost all the mission areas are near large concentrations of enemies).

The side missions are interesting, but not necessary to achieve most of your main goals in the game:

  • Weapon shop missions let you get access to new weapons in the shop, but you will also gain access to large numbers of new weapons as you progress in the storyline (not all, but almost all of them), which means they are entirely optional. You can easily finish the game with the basic sniper rifle that opens up almost immediately anyway.
  • Radio tower missions are assassinations that just give you diamonds. There are plenty of those, and if you stick with a small family of weapons you'll have way more diamonds than you'll need, so no point.
  • Resistance missions typically are more like underground railroad missions. You're bringing documents to refugees in exchange for medication to control your malaria. Again, as you progress through the game, eventually you will reach a gameplay gate where you won't run out of malaria pills anymore, pretty much at the point in time where you need to take them most frequently. You aren't actually notified about it, but it's clearly there.
  • Predecessor missions involve finding letters and then recordings from the person who was previously sent to kill the Jackal. Probably the most optional of optional quests, because there's not really any importance tied to the previous guy. I've done them all of course.
  • Jackal tapes involve scouting remote areas looking for interviews of the Jackal. These ones are interesting because they provide a more detailed look into the Jackal's philosophy, but you'll learn enough of the Jackal's personality in the denouement of the game to understand what is going on even without them.

Since the game is set in the savanna, there are lots of wide-open spaces, making it advantageous to engage in long range warfare, especially when you encounter enemies with rocket launchers parked in convenient perches. It's optional to scout stations with your monocle, but you absolutely need to take out snipers and RPG enemies to be successful at any difficulty level.

The quick travel system often doesn't get you where you want to go. You can pretty much only move from the center to the corners of the two larger zones, and you can't travel between the north and south zone via quick travel, you have to walk or drive over the border. This forces you to engage with guard posts and encourages you to drive vehicles.

The game holds up well visually. It is nearly 8 years old now, and runs super hot on modern hardware. With a two-year old 2GB GTX670 I was able to run the game maxed at 1080p/60 with vsync and 8x AA with no issues. GeDoSaTo 0.5 downsampling from 4k was not able to achieve a consistently high framerate on this hardware at max settings, even after turning off AA. Later gen video cards or a dual-card solution would probably be able to handle it. Character and enemy models are a little low-poly, but otherwise there aren't any particular items that make the game feel less than photo-realistic.

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