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Farcry 2 Review

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Genres: FPS
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Review Date: 25-2-2009
Review Platform: PC
Review Region: AU Available In Australia
Est Playtime: 15+ hours
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

Farcry 2 is a First Person Shooter set in a non-specific African country stricken by civil war. Your character has been sent in to kill the man responsible for starting it: The Jackal, an arms dealer. Youíll need the assistance of both sides of the conflict to find and eliminate him.

farcry2_022The first thing you should know about Farcry 2 is that it has nothing to do with Farcry 1. Itís not made by the same developer, it doesnít have an over the top storyline, itís not set on a tropical island, it doesnít have the same characters and it doesnít have a free roaming but level bound environment. Crysis fits all these criteria and has more right to be called Farcry 2 Ė it on the other hand could have been called {African} Crisis.

farcry2_012My first impression of Farcry 2 was that it seemed like a bit of STALKER rip off Ė a free roaming FPS with RPG elements set in a gritty environment. The descriptionís accurate but itís really just a natural evolution of Farcry 1ís free roaming vehicular combat. I liked the original for those reasons but the same isnít true of this game. Right off the bat it commits what I consider to be a design sin: it takes control and power away from the player. And Iím not talking about the excessively long on rails drive through the country that starts the game off. What I am talking about is the meeting with the Jackel during an in game cut scene where he could easily kill the player if he wanted to. Needless to say that didnít make feel like an assassin. Worse still is that immediately after this cut scene you participate in a battle where you have to basically die to proceed. Both of these failures are repeated later in the game. I havenít even mentioned the fact that you somehow catch malaria during the on rails drive and are stuck with it for the rest of the game. All in all it was one of the worst startings to a game Iíve played.

farcry2_024The general gameplay involves roaming and shooting your way around two very large areas populated by hostile guard outposts, safe houses, side missions, and hidden briefcases full of diamonds. The safe house is where your buddy stays, contains supplies and is where you can save (for the console version I assume as the PC version can save anywhere). You have two buddies in†the game: one who saves you when youíre about to die and the other Ďhelpsí you during missions. The guard outpostís respawn as soon as they go out of sight and are very annoying when you simply want to get to a mission. Its fun taking them out at first but it doesnít take long before it feels completely pointless. Mostly I tried to drive through them and not waste my time.

farcry2_021Pointless is a description that also suits retrieving the diamond briefcases. On the PC version of course there are no Achievements for finding all 221 of them and you get enough diamonds doing the missions to buy the majority of weapons anyway. This being war torn Africa diamonds are the only currency accepted but the Weapon store is the only place you can spend them. Speaking of the Weapon Store you have to complete side missions to unlock weapons as well as pay for them with diamonds. One or the other would have been better. The missions while being fun are essentially exactly the same everytime. As are the assassination side missions. I only completed a few of these as I suspected they were randomly generated and, again, pointless.

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Without the handful of different vehicles it has Farcry 2†would be unplayable, such are the distances you need to travel. The time involved in simply getting to a mission, the meaningful action, is the major issue. Thereís a bus system that instantly transports you to different sections of the map but thereís still too much time spent traveling. I like a constant stream of engaging action.

farcry2_009The gameís weapons include Mortars, RGP Launchers, Flame Throwers, pistols, automatic pistols, numerous automatic rifles and many others. You can carry 3 different types of weapons: primary (rifles), secondary (pistol size weapons), and special (RPG Launcher etc) in addition to a machete, grenades and health syringes. Speaking of the RPG Launcher itís strangely and irritatingly unreliable. Its rockets have a habit of bouncing off things or just not exploding. The weapons are stratifying for the most part but crimped by an over zealous wear and tear system. Brand new weapons degrade far too quickly and weapons which are worn out jam with increasing frequency. Eventually they spontaneously disintegrate when you try to fire them. You can image the reaction when this happens during an intense fire fight. That said this did lead to my most memorable moment in the game. One mission has you fighting your way through a garbage tip with enemies appearing from every direction. So I hid behind a trashed bus for cover but my weapon disintegrated as I way trying to take down an enemy. I quickly grenaded him as another enemy appeared. I then grabbed an enemy dropped weapon and took him down leaving me with 11 rounds in the mag and a badly degraded weapon to kill the rest of them. Itís a shame this intensity was infrequently replicated in subsequent missions.

farcry2_007The majority of combat takes place at a fair distance and the game favoures a stealthier, cover focused style of play. I prefer run and gun from my FPSs with minimal need to cover and to that end the game was good. Itís not like the game really punishes you for playing hard and fast as thereís enough health syringes Ė health packs Ė that frontal charges arenít ever a problem. You carry several health syringes with you and the number is upgradable. You can scout out areas in advance using a scope but it takes time to get into a position that can scope out anything meaningful. Most combat revolves around guard outposts so using completely stealthy attacks would mean taking an inordinate amount of time to get anywhere. The controls are standard FPS controls and are responsive even at patchy frames rates ~25-35.

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Enemy AI is perhaps the one thing that truly resembles Farcry 1so itís just as annoying as its forefather. The enemies can see you from miles away, are amazingly accurateand arenít bound by line of sight. Thereís†one particular area in the game where an enemy mortar constantly rain downs on you from an island in a lake, no mater where you hide. And enemies will shoot you through thick jungle foliage despite the fact that you canít see them at all. I also noticed a few bugs with the enemies: occasionally they will shoot at you, hit you, but their character animation will show them facing away. The sound positioning doesnít seem that accurate and their voices donít trail off with distance terribly well. This is with a patch that automatically downloaded after I installed the game.

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Another major flaw of the game is the story. Itís nonsensical and makes no impact what so ever despite attempts at being gritty. To start with the player somehow catches malaria on the jeep ride from the airport. Youíre lugged with its randomly occurring side effects (distorted vision) through the rest of the game so youíre forced into doing side missions to get anti malaria drugs. Youíre also forced into doing missions for both sides of the conflict for a large part of the game so youíre not going to end up caring about them either way. Itís not like you actually see any civilians or the consequences of your actions during a mission anyway. And secondly the game doesnít explain who the different sides are in any great detail. Nor do the characters adequately introduce themselves. Leaving me to read the plot descriptions that are displayed during the load screens to understand whatís going on.

As I mentioned before the Buddy system gives you assistance from other mercenaries you meet. One buddy will save you from death while the other will provide alternative routes through the primary missions. Doing these alternative routes will upgrade your safe house. While an interesting addition the system isnít very engaging or useful. As I played this game on the PC where you can save anywhere I rarely had any need to visit a safe house so itís upgrades were inconsequential. Though Iíll admit the first, and only time, my buddy dragged me away when I should have died was a cool moment. The alternative routes through the missions didnít provide any noteworthy or cool scenes, nor any outstanding benefit to the difficulty of the mission. The only thing they did add was more driving time and a longer time spent playing the mission. Sometimes this particular buddy appears in the mission as an extra gun. However my buddy in the first part of the game was equipped with a shot gun and provided no assistance at all; routinely getting himself nearly killed. Buddies can die but most of the time theyíll just writhe on the ground begging for you to jab them with a health syringe. A later Buddy was equipped with a machine gun and was actively able to take down any enemies. The more missions you do with a Buddy the more history you have with them. Past a certain level this results in a plot twist later in the game. Unfortunately the twist itself is completely ridiculous and illogical.

Graphically speaking Farcry 2 is exceptional although I was never as impressed as I was in Farcry 1. Farcry 1 is one of only a few games† that ever impressed me with graphics. The ability to stand on a beautiful tropical island and look at waves crashing onto the beach canít be beaten with pure polygon power alone. The jungle scenes do look lovely however the graphics† in general are hampered to a small degree by a badly done day/night cycle. The way itís been implemented is to shift the colours towards a mud brown that makes anything hard to distinguish or appreciate in the twilight hours. Thinking back on my time with the game I couldnít remember actually hearing any music. Itís there however and itís African themed with lots of drums and chanting. In my opinion music needs to be noticed to have an impact so it failed in that respect.

Farcry 2 is a game that feels like it could have been much better. You travel grinding distances going from mission to mission while being forced to fight through equally tedious guard outposts. The combat while generally satisfying rarely keeps to a high level Ė engaging, constant and meaningful. This is largely due to plain inconsequential missions and the sheer physical space between objectives. The storyís attempts at grittiness amount to little because of ridiculous plot events and poor exposition. In the end it failed to make me care even in the slightest. All in all Farcry 2 is a game that took the open ended aspects from Farcry 1 and ran with it but failed to fill all that space with meaningful content.


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