14 Reviews

Far Cry 2

Tests the boundaries of the FPS genre

I'm lurking in the long grass of the African savannah, waiting for a convoy to approach. In this place, remaining unseen can be effortless. You're almost engulfed in the endless landscape and any noises you make are easily drowned out by the deafening roar of the jungle.

Surprise is well on my side as I ready the rocket launcher. The oncoming motorcade, led at a crawl by the Popular Resistance's chief of police, won't know what's hit it when I pull the trigger.

Seconds later and all that remains is a series of burning wrecks and an angry mob of survivors stampeding up the hill toward me. In this game, even a couple of enemies can easily get the better of you. It's almost always better to make a quick getaway, or use strategy, rather than taking them head-on. The most obvious escape route here is a thirty-foot leap down into the river below. It's times like these when you feel like you're caught in the middle of an adventure movie.

By today's standards Far Cry 2 is a challenging game. It's also a breath of fresh air to those who feel patronised by recharging energy bars and auto-saves every few minutes. Those things just wouldn't work in this context. This is about survival - pure and simple.

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Almost every element of the game's design is driven toward realism. The first realisation to hit you is that your character, one of eight playable mercenaries, is anything but a one-man army. When you take a bullet, you literally have to pluck it out with tweezers to prevent yourself from bleeding to death. Some might argue that this process is 'just another animation', but not when you actually have to think about it and make sure you're in cover before attempting the procedure.

Stocking up on medicine before going into battle is key, because this isn't the kind of shooter where defeated bad guys drop medi kits. Before entering combat, you're encouraged to recon enemy encampments using a telescope. This automatically marks on your map where the medicine and ammo dumps are located. After that, it's at your discretion on how to handle the mission.

Stealthy players will get just as much of a buzz than Rambo-types. The most cerebral of all will wait it out, exploiting the game's 24-hour light cycle to attack under cover of darkness.

Far Cry 2 is undoubtedly one of the first first-person shooters to reward stealth play without incorporating it as a gimmicky mandatory feature. In Far Cry 2 you always have a choice. Choices are often just a step away from agonising dilemmas. It's only possible to carry three weapons at a time, and ammo is in extremely short supply. On the other hand, the game certainly doesn't skimp with the degree of firepower. Within 20 minutes you'll have access to flame throwers, RPGs and sniper rifles. It's almost an incitement to kill everything in sight.

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However, a superb element of realism is that you can't always trust the weapons you find on the battlefield. They're worn down and unreliable, and there's visible deterioration the more you use them. It eventually reaches the point where they start jamming. Not something you want in the middle of a gunfight.

Don't panic. This sounds frustrating, but a successful merc will soon be able to purchase brand new guns and as much ammo as he can possibly carry. Payment comes courtesy of two opposing and warring factions, neither of which know or particularly care who you work for.

It's difficult to say what your character stands for in a moral sense. He's very much like Martin Sheen's character in the film Apocalypse Now, hunting down an evil man who seems to be pulling the strings. There isn't any right or wrong - the game deftly sidesteps any misjudged preachiness - merely the difference between efficient and reckless.

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