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Far Cry 2 Review (X360)

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Far Cry 2 Review (X360)
Ubisoft
Far Cry 2 is a bit of a tough nut to crack. It is a gorgeous looking, solid playing open world game with amazing physics that packs plenty of stuff to do. But it is also kind of oddly paced and occasionally brutally difficult game marred by some iffy design choices. You do eventually figure out the game’s quirks, and when you do Far Cry 2 is an incredibly fun game, but to get to that point is a trial by fire that just may not be worth the frustration considering the other great Xbox 360 titles available this year.
Quick Hits

  • Title: Far Cry 2
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
  • ESRB Rating: “M” For Mature
  • Genre: FPS
  • Pros: Gorgeous graphics; 50 square KM to explore; solid gameplay; map editor; fire
  • Cons: Odd pacing; everyone is out to get you; can be very difficult

Far Cry 2 takes place in a war torn African nation where a man called “The Jackal” has been selling weapons to both sides of the conflict. You play as a mercenary who is sent in to find and kill him, and along the way you take on missions for both sides of the war, make some friends, find some diamonds, and blow a hell of a lot of stuff up.

The game strives for realism in all areas. Guns jam. Cars break down and have to be fixed. Because you are in a war zone, and are a mercenary, pretty much everyone outside of safe areas wants to kill you. And when you get injured you have to heal yourself. Since the game takes place exclusively from the first-person perspective of your character, which means that pulling bullets out of your arm with pliers or giving yourself injections all happens up close and personal. The attention to detail and realism is very cool and is surprisingly consistent throughout the game. You really get absorbed into the game world in a way that few other titles can match.

Gameplay

Ubisoft
From a control perspective, Far Cry 2 is a pretty standard FPS. It doesn’t control or feel all that different at its core than any other Xbox 360 shooter. The rest of the game design, however, is very different. Because the game is a completely open world, you are free to take any path you want as you drive around and are free to tackle objectives any way you see fit. Why drive into a base when you can snipe everyone from far away? Or blow up some oil drums to blast apart their cover? Or set the grass outside on fire so it burns down the base? Or wait until dark and then sneak in and kill everyone quietly? When Far Cry 2 is at its best – moments where you can really put the physics and fire and freedom to use – it is very good.

But those moments are set surprisingly far apart. Like I said, Far Cry 2 has a laser-like focus on being realistic. That means having to drive in a car for fifteen minutes to reach the next mission area. That means having to shoot through the same checkpoints dozens of times as you play the game. And that also means that the game can be extremely bloody difficult and if you walk into a conflict without a plan you are going to get killed. A lot. It doesn’t help that there aren’t any enemy markers or radar or anything so you never know where the enemies actually are. You also won’t really be able to explore and just sightsee and goof off as much as you’d like because literally everyone is out to get you and shoots you on sight. I’m all for realism and immersion, but there are many aspects of Far Cry 2 that just aren’t fun.

Frankly, the real world (especially in a war zone) sucks noodles, so why you would want to recreate it so accurately in a videogame that is supposed to be fun just seems odd. There is never any onscreen indicators telling you where to go, so instead you have to look at your map every five seconds to figure out what you are doing. There are no enemy indicators. There is nothing to break the immersion. But that isn’t a good thing. We don’t have health bars and radar and stuff because someone decided they looked good. We have them because it is hard as hell to play a videogame without them.

With all of that said, you do eventually reach a point where a lot of it stops being a problem. You do eventually figure out how to get around the world faster (take buses between a handful of points and then drive the rest of the way to your mission) and there are also many many safe houses you can find so you can save your game amazingly often. And you do eventually get better weapons and items and can plan out your missions better. But it is a solid 8-hour trial by fire where you just get beat up and frustrated and you’ll constantly be lost and will hate the game before you get to that point. Once you get over the hump, though, and stop worrying and learn to love the bomb – er, game – Far Cry 2 is a really good experience for the rest of the 30 or so hour campaign.

Ubisoft
Graphics and Sound

Far Cry 2 is an amazing looking game that presents a near photo realistic version of Africa for you to play in. There are dry grasslands. Thick forests. Deserts. And more. It is all completely gorgeous looking. Top that off with a shockingly realistic day/night cycle (you can’t see for beans at night, just like real life) and some of the very best fire in any videogame yet and you have a sure fire winner in terms of visuals. The sound isn’t quite up to the same level. Nothing bad, just nothing special in the sound, either.

Bottom Line

In the end, Far Cry 2 is a solid game in all aspects, but is one that is a bit hard to recommend due to an incredibly steep learning curve. It is a game that you’ll want to love for it’s great graphics, amazing use of fire and physics, and solid core gameplay, but it just won’t love you back until you spend enough time with it to learn how to play it the right way. With so many other games out right now, including huge open world games like Far Cry 2, that are all about instant gratification, it is somewhat hard to justify the effort it takes to really get into FC2. Far Cry 2 is a great game, but it isn’t going to be for everyone. Give it a rental and see if you like it, and then buy it if you do because the 30 hour single-player campaign, multiplayer modes, and extremely in-depth map editor will keep you busy for a long time to come.

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