Africa. The only thing I truly know about Africa is that it's far away and that apparently Leonardo DiCaprio once killed a small battalion of people there to save some guy who I only remember as "Black Solomon Grundy" and his son, ja ja? I'm proposing that this level of knowledge is universal as apparently Far Cry 2 is the most accurate depiction of Africa ever until Resident Evil 5 comes out. Note: Afrika for PS3 totally doesn't count. The K makes it a different continent.
Far Cry 2 is the, in name only, sequel to Ubisoft published Far Cry, which came out in 2004. The original has a lot of fond memories for me, I got it during my first year of college and it turns out to be good first person shooter with a pretty neat map creator. The first game followed over talkative protagonist Jack Carver as he explored some tropical islands filled with mercenaries and rejected Strogg from Quake 3. Game was pretty open ended in the ways you could approach strategy and was surprisingly really long. I almost wanna say that Far Cry is longer than the plane ride to Africa. The other neat thing was that the mercenary AI was actually pretty decent. They'd call out for help, reinforcements, use cover, patrol the island, etc. Basically, they weren't your average retarded opponent and could cause real trouble on the harder difficulties. Overall, I'd say if you want a good first person shooter for your PC, to still check it out. You can probably find it for super cheap, so there's no excuse not to pick it up if the genre interests you.
So, flash forward to 2008. The rather unhyped release of Far Cry 2. Far Cry two takes place in a totally different non-made up continent of Africa. You take the role of one of nine vaguely background mercenaries. How vague? Their dossiers only contain basic information and slight background in the ways of prior jobs each has held. So you choose your character based on just appearances and the lucrative promise that each might be slightly different. That promise is quickly broken. You emerge in Africa as the same deaf mute as any other first person shooter, besides the original Far Cry, to the point where J.D. Salinger would be green with envy. The only difference the character makes is the skin your character has for when you're able to see your body and the fact that your character doesn't show up as an NPC in the game. That is it. Entirely.
Why couldn't Ubisoft Montreal just make a nondescript character? You never see him, he never talks, and he's never referred to by his name, so I don't see why they couldn't have just made a generic PC as whoever you choose has no effect on the game. It just seems nonsensical to me as you're allowed to make choice, but no matter what choice you make, it has 0 effect on gameplay. It's just an illusion of choices and that's what this game does a good job of presenting.
So you begin your adventure as whatever skin color you prefer and quickly notice that the game definitely is one of the more immersive games out there for first person shooters. You have almost no HUD, no cross hairs, you sometimes have to physically treat wounds to stop from bleeding to death through various , and the malaria you catch at the beginning constantly bothers you throughout the game to the point that you may have an attack during a gun fight. Basically, the only HUD you have is your ammo count, your life bar, and how many doses of the ever healing morphine you have on your character. As such, the game presents itself as a very realistic and immersive experience, although sometimes too much so.
The realism in the game varies wildly. You have to use your iron sights whenever you want to aim at someone and hit anyone at any range other than close quarters, which is actually one of the most positive aspects of the realism. You use a coordinate map to navigate the African terrain. As previously mentioned, if you're grievously injured, you do a variety of rather gruesome animations to heal yourself such as pushing a bullet through your arm, using a knife to dig a round from your leg, or cauterize a wound. The environments have a very good ambient feel to them and outside of Crysis and possibly Metal Gear Solid 3, I can't think of a better display of jungle in a game.
On the flip side, for a game that tries to present itself so realistically, it fails utterly in some areas. If your vehicle is damaged, for instance, the way you can fix it is that you pop up the hood, take your trusty spanner from your bag of holding and adjust a bolt on the engine and wallah! Good as new. Your gun? Yea....not as repairable. Firearms in Africa apparently degenerate faster then Haddaway's career. Outside of the golden weapons you can find in the game, any firearm you receive will degenerate to the point that it will blow up in your face after a virtual day of use. I realize that a number of people have no experience with firearms, but I can guarantee that something like an AK-47 will survive wind, rain, radiation, retardation, and Africa. I'm sure that when our planet is destroyed by a nuclear war, the newly mutated cockroach rulers of earth will simply use AK's to destroy each other. Your character also handles morphine with the constitution of the Incredible Hulk, Superman, and Magic Johnson combined.
The other thing that affects the realistic experience in the game? The AI. There are times when you'll feel that you're going against some rather smart individuals who are able to accurately hit you from distances that sometimes defy logic, actually helping out wounded friends, dragging them to safety, and using grenades to flush you from cover. Then there's the rest of the time when they'll just stand there and look like retards, charge blindly into your line of sight, and are able to detect you as soon as you kill someone with a silenced weapon. It's very inconsistent, though when on the higher difficulty I will say that their lack of intelligence on occasion is by far beat out by their ability to get away with murdering you as if they used to play for the Buffalo Bills.
So as the story continues, you're basically forced to help one of two vaguely defined and non-agenda oriented groups who outside of attempting to gain control over nondescript civil war torn African country #3 in a variety of morally ambigeous missions, are inseperable from the other. Along the way you're allowed to meet a variety of buddies who are the other characters you did not choose along with three ladies who are unchooseable because Ubisoft is apparently too lazy to rerecord audio that refers to the character in a female format. Your buddies will help you out, rescue you when you're in danger, and provide alternate routes for missions. They also die due to the fact that they're about as intelligent as the opponents you face, charging blindly into combat till they're gunned down by masses of pistol equipped troops. This is also another place where you will notice the realism negatively affect your game because when your buddy is injured, as they surely will, you have the ability to save them. Unfortunately, you can only save them two times, as the third time you use your morphine shot on them, they die of an overdose. These also accumulate through the game, so even if you go 4 missions without your buddy being injured, if he's on his 3rd time of being wounded, he's dead. So, lets recap. Your character? The pain killer fiend from hell. Everyone else in the game? They have the ability to resist an overdose like a 12 pound kitten and once they're gone, they're gone meaning that if all your buddies die, you have no one to save you from a particularly hard firefight.
So aside from the faction missions, which advance the storyline, you're given a few different types of missions that are necessary for a variety of reasons, whether it's acquiring new weapons at the shop or building up your friendship level (here called "History") with your buddies. One thing you'll quickly notice, however, is that all the missions start to resemble each other. Go from point A. to point B. and kill everyone there. This leads to a bit of repetition, to say the least. I, personally, don't mind repetition, however if you don't enjoy the types of games that Assassin's Creed or Dynasty Warriors are in terms of gameplay, you will not like Far Cry 2.
There's not much more to be said, really. This is either the type of game that you'll dig with its expansive size and Grand Theft Auto in a new costume appeal or you won't. As an aside, though, some people may enjoy the game simply for its fairly robust map creator and solid enough to be enjoyable online experience. The game is good, despite a multitude of problems that can be overlooked, but isn't going to be for everyone, will be quickly overshadowed by games such as Resistance 2 and Gears 2 and is a far cry
from the experience of the original. In fact, the two games are so far unrelated, I think it would have been better for Ubisoft to have bought the rights to Rambo and just called it "Rambo: The Game" as thats exactly the best way to describe the experience. It would also solve some of the problems with the player's character having no identity whatsoever and allow the character to be a bit more inclusive in the game instead of being yet another deaf mute in a FPS. Gordan Freeman already has that market cornered.