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Far Cry 2 review




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Far Cry 2
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  • Far Cry 2
  • Far Cry 2


Our Score:


Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC - Xbox 360 version reviewed.

To be honest, I don't think anyone expected Far Cry 2 to turn out like this. With Crysis regarded as the true successor to Far Cry, most people were ready to dismiss the Ubisoft sequel as a cheap cash-in, presumably another variant on Far Cry: Instincts dumbed down even further to appeal to the largest possible market.

Instead, we get an ambitious, literate, intelligent and pseudo-realistic freeform shooter, more akin to The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. than anything Ubisoft or Crytek before it attempted with the series. Look - it quotes Nietzsche and riffs on Conrad's Heart of Darkness, for goodness sake. You could even argue that this is a breakthrough game for the FPS genre; one that takes the open world gameplay of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., makes the open world feel more truly open, and simultaneously renders it more accessible for a mainstream audience. Far Cry 2 doesn't quite get an A* for achievement, but as far as effort goes it's sitting near the top of the class.

As you'll know if you saw the Far Cry 2 preview, the setting has moved from the tropics to an unnamed central African state in the grip of burgeoning civil war between rival revolutionary factions. As a mercenary, you've been dropped in to take out 'the Jackal' - a mysterious arms dealer whose weapons are helping to perpetuate the conflict. Sadly for you, the job turns sour. Struck by malaria within minutes of entering the country, you're discovered but enigmatically spared by your quarry, surviving a skirmish between the two gangs only by the skin of your teeth.

If you want to live on and stop the Jackal you'll need to tackle missions for both sides. Not enough? Well, you'll soon run out of tablets for your Malaria, so you also need to keep on the right side of a church-sponsored underground movement. In jeeps, boats and buggies, by bus or on foot, you'll traverse the whole country, killing, rescuing or wrecking on command and ensuring you have the resources you need to get your real job done. It's a hard knocks life..... for you.

Still, you're not alone. To make things slightly more complicated the game has a system of buddies. At the start of the game you choose a character to play. Depending on your choice, you'll then meet up with potential allies early in the game. One will provide you with alternative missions. Say you've been asked to assassinate the police chief in his motorcade. Well, your buddy might suggest that to make your job easier you pay his brother a visit and take an embarrassing file, prompting the corrupt cop to go to the police station where you can take him out a lot easier.

Of course this usually entails some payback for your buddy - in this land, nobody does you any favours without an ulterior motive in mind. Your other buddy will run in and drag your sorry behind out of the fire when you're on your last legs, effectively acting as a second life when you need it most. However, you're expected to bail them out in return. See, there's nothing for free in Far Cry 2.


October 28, 2008, 12:25 pm

I have this on PC, and a fairly high end one. I have all the settings maxed at 1680 x 1050 and it runs as smooth as silk but...it doesn't hold a candle to Crysis in the looks or physics departments, IMO. Still quite pretty though, especially when the sun is low in the sky. I guess Crysis spoiled us, hard to believe it's a year down the line and nothing quite matches it for looks. And that was a fun game (the less said about the aliens the better, I'd have thought after complaints that the Trigens spoiled Far Cry would have made Crytek think twice about adding monsters/zombies/aliens...or at least tried harder to make them more interesting)

Now...guard checkpoints. I'm about 3 or 4 hours in - and there's nothing so despair inducing as seeing your mission objective is the other side of the map, meaning you have to get past at least 3 checkpoints. Free roaming? Well, some of it, but many of the roads are bordered by ridges which can't be climbed, effectively funnelling you towards the checkpoints. Easy solution - if you're in a jeep with a mounted gun, roll up to the checkpoint till they see you, then jump on the gun and mow them down whilst the guards run headlong into your bullets. If I try to drive past, for some reason their jeeps go faster and mine gets damaged so i have to stop. The Bus Stops are so far apart that even going from mission accept, to bus stop, and from the destination bus stop to mission objective, requires passing several checkpoints.

As one review wrote, it's like playing Grand Theft Auto with a 3 star wanted rating, but for no good reason. And there's no indication of which of the two main factions, if any, these guards are working for. They're just random guys with guns, standing around waiting to shoot at you.

One jeep drove at me so fast, hit a rock and went airbourne as if it were made of polystyrene! Highly suspect physics and AI...

Malaria...maybe there's a reason but if i was a veteran mercenary going to africa, I'd make sure i had vaccinations. every now and then you get dizzy and have to take a pill. Adds to the game? Or annoys? I'll take the latter option thanks.

Life - so far I've seen a couple of lone zebra, some goat-like things and what looked like a wildebeest. No herds of elephants, rhinos, gazelle, and no predators. How much would it add to the fear if you ran into water to escape a gunfight, only to realise there was a crocodile in the river? And there are no non combatants. GTA had cities teeming with people. Africa certainly has villages full of people even in the worst areas. FC2 has people trying to shoot you, Buddies, and you.

Why can you not have an option to bribe guards? Or if you've been shooting people, have a radius of awareness within which the guards are hostile? Having to shoot through 3, 4 or 5 gunfights before and after a mission objective is tedious beyond belief.

Arms merchant missions - why am I destroying his competitors convoys to unlock weapons to buy...when I could just hijack said convoy and steal a truck load of weapons? I'm an ammoral mercenary in it for profit.

I guess what annoys me the most about this game is I had VERY high expectations.

Deus Ex was and is one of my all time favourite games. I like a bit of depth. But so far the frustrating aspects of this title are putting me off the idea of playing for more than a half hour at a time - I wanted a game which made me lose track of the time till I look at a clock and find it's 3am and I really ought to go to bed. As it is..this isn't such a game, unless it gets patched to add villagers, snakes, lions, elephants, get rid of the insta-shoot guards...


October 28, 2008, 1:10 pm

Couldn't agree more. Absolutely every single one of your points is spot on.

I'll freely admit I bought this game on the back of another site's glowing review but have so far been largely disappointed as it just doesn't feel remotely believable. Don't get me wrong, in many ways I'm loving every minute of it as it's just good fun shooting stuff up but for me there's absolutely nothing that raises this game from a good romp to a profound, engrossing experience and in this day and age I expect more.

Hans Gruber

October 28, 2008, 1:54 pm

Agreed also, very well summarised gdawg304. Good points raised by the review too.

Having possible played the game for considerably longer (PC version), I've discovered a many more bugs and annoyances. I had to scrap several hours worth of playtime just to rewind to a point before a particular mission that turned out to be uncompletable (Lumber yard/rescue the captive - don't accept the mission unless you know what you're doing). Basically the door to the stronghold wouldn't open. I did the mission 3 times before looking it up online to find out what was what.

The Weapons unlock missions seem to have hit an impasse and I don't know why. I'm hoping it's not because I forgot to complete a particular mission early on, since the guy who gives the missions has disappeared and there's no mission marker up so it looks as if my weapons choice will be fairly limited.

I totally agree about the annoying guard posts. To completely eradicate a post only to come back to it on your way from the main mission to discover it's repopulated itself already is a major annoyance. Sometimes it's harder to just get through these constrained roadblocks than it is to complete the actual mission objective itself. The AI is absurd, I agree. They're crack shots and can shoot you even when you're completely hidden in the bush and have a nasty habit of driving out of nowhere at breakneck speed to run you down. Then it's a question of waiting for them to make the same stupid moves over and over again before dispatching them. It's a crazy game that way.

So, Far Cry 2 is an ambitious game then but lacks a tight script or sense of atmosphere - you feel dislocated and disoriented much of the time. There are great moments, usually inspired by the terrific scenery and awesome lighting and shadow effects but it's still a fairly sterile disengaging environment to be in. Where's the snakes, lions, elephants and crocs? Yeah, and I can drive as fast as I like and not hit a thing - there's nobody on the roads, no settlements and no life other than the stupid, extremely volatile guards, which left me wondering what the hell I'd done to deserve being shot at on sight by complete strangers all the time. I used to wait to see if I'd be fired upon first but realise now it's only a question of when they'll shoot not if so fire first.

I actually like the health/repair system, both for the person and for the vehicles. They are pretty generous and well balanced I feel. Again, as a PC gamer, I have the luxury of quicksaving so no doubt this helps. Though it's worth pointing out, unlike just about every other game I can think of, quicksaves are not automatically overwritten and instead accumulate so you end up with gigabytes of save points if you're not careful.

This game lacks soul. I think that's its fundamental flaw. It's very comparable to Boiling Point, I feel. I'm surprised nobody's mentioned that (from all the site's talking about the game) as yet. Right down to the weapon wear and gun jamming. There were factions to work for, information about your main quest to build on and side quests a-plenty to build up your cash and weapons stash. BP was far more realistic in many ways though, and hugely more detailed (perhaps too much so). It too had more than it's fair share of bugs and absurdly scripted AI/inane NPCs. In fact, Ubisoft shall have to work fast to get this game patched. It's perhaps a minor miracle it's as good as it is straight out of the publishers really. All credit to them in this regard. Though the lack of true widescreen option as pointed out by the Widescreen Gaming forum (Far Cry 2 shrinks the vertical view rather than expands the horizontal by default) is utterly unforgivable. There's an unofficial fix for it, which works a treat (if you're a PC player). You should only really need it if you're not using a console version though (for reasons explained at WSG forum).

I'm hoping there will be many mods for this game, and plenty of fixes too, including greater abundance and variety of wildlife. Plus it wouldn't hurt to have people who aren't initially trying to kill you on sight all the time. I know it's probably my own fault for never reading the manuals but I too question why a merc would get malaria and just why he's employed to prevent all out civil war. Who's employing him and why? It isn't a major arms manufacture that's for sure and that rules out quite a few governments too. Lastly, has anyone spotted one of the guards peeing yet? Had to chuckle as I sniped him mid way through relieving himself. That'll teach him for not washing his hands after.


October 28, 2008, 2:01 pm

By contrast, I actually did find myself playing Far Cry 2 until 3am on Sunday night, without realising what time it was - I really was enjoying it that much.

As for the first point made, I'm not too bothered about what PC hardware is necessary, since I was playing the Xbox 360 version. That probably also explains why I found it pretty immersive, since I was playing it on a 50in Pioneer Kuro TV with the lights down, in the middle of the night. OK, so it's probably not quite as immersive as Bioshock, but then the dark, claustrophobic locations of Rapture were always going to draw you in more than open landscapes.

Yes the checkpoints and roaming gunmen can get in the way, but no more so than wandering monsters in an RPG. That said, what exactly do you expect militia at checkpoints to do? Let's face it, most militia in war torn African states will kill anything that comes near them. Yes you could try to bribe them, but they'd probably just kill you and take your money.

As for wildlife, most creatures in Africa will avoid cars, jeeps and most definitely gunfire. That's why if you do go on safari these days, there's never a guarantee that you'll actually see anything.

Yes the arms merchant missions are a bit odd, but I guess the convoy isn't necessarily carrying the weapons you want. Even then, you'd probably still have a good dig around the shipments before blowing them up and take what you need, so I guess it's still a bit strange.

All that said, I really don't care about the niggles. Ultimately I'm playing a game to have a good time, not to pick holes in whether or not it's realistic enough. If we want to talk realism, let's ask ourselves why pretty much every game lets you heal yourself up to full fitness while out in the field. At least in FC2 it take a little time to heal yourself, unlike some games where you just hit a button and instantly heal. Does that mean that pulling a bullet out of your arm with a pair of pliers in the middle of a fire fight would be a viable option? No, but at least it forces you to find cover, rather than standing out in the open while systematically pressing the health pack button.

I guess the point is, I didn't have very high expectations of Far Cry 2. I was expecting it to just be another "on rails" FPS like so many others before it. Therefore the ability to take missions, refuse them, wander around nailing militia, hunting for diamonds or just unlocking safe houses, seems like a pleasant change to me.

Will I play it to the end though? With review code of Gears of War 2 arriving any day now, probably not.

prag fest

October 28, 2008, 3:04 pm

Being a big fan of the original Far Cry, I was really looking forward to this. Unfortunately, upon playing, I found myself instantly not caring about the story, environment or the characters (the previous lacks soul comment sums it up for me). Ah well, maybe I'm just too hard to please.


October 28, 2008, 4:47 pm

@riyad ... "Let's face it, most militia in war torn African states will kill anything that comes near them. Yes you could try to bribe them, but they'd probably just kill you and take your money."

Are you being serious ? You've come to this conclusion based on your vast experience of negotiating african militia checkpoints ?


October 28, 2008, 5:04 pm

@SB - nope I've come to this conclusion based on the extensive historical documentation and ongoing media coverage of conflicts in Angola, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Chad, Congo etc.


October 28, 2008, 5:09 pm

Jeeps, gunfire etc all scare animals. Sure. But what about the middle of the night when you're sneaking...it would just be nice to have a *little* more wildlife. Hippos tipping over boats, a pack of hyenas sneaking up on you in the dark and needing scaring off with a gunshot....even just one lion hidden somewhere as an Easter Egg :-D

Really though - it is a minor niggle. It would have been a nice added feature. It's not like Crysis had much more than a couple of pigs and some tortoises.

As for realistic, meh - not too fussed about that but it's just a shame you often get bottlenecked into checkpoints instead of being able to go round. Would they have checkpoints at almost EVERY crossroads? Are these guys working for a faction? What if you're on a mission for the faction they're with? And as pointed out above, why is it they can shoot you dead on even if you're hiding in bushes.

And a number of them do appear to be mercenaries...and mercs might be less inclined to shoot before finding out who you are (and then might take you alive for ransom!)

One of the best things I thought Far Cry 1 had over Half Life 2, released the same year...in FC you could lean left/right from cover and go prone for sniping/cover. Why no leaning in FC2?

I suppose my issue is after all the reviews I'd developed really high expectations and I felt slightly let down...it's not BAD...it's just not quite what I was hoping for. That's something that differs from person to person (this means you, Riyad :p - I'm not slating your opinion, just that I and many others have different opinions on this).

I can live without the nanosuit, but the more open areas of Crysis before the aliens turn up were fantastic fun - ok you had set goals, but you were able to get away without huge firefights in most places if you wanted to. Sneaking was easier when you could crawl on your belly. In FC2 I'd just like the option of being able to go round checkpoints so I can get on with the mission...instead of using up all my syrettes in 4 gunfights that occur before I get to my destination. These guards are so perceptive I've found it very hard to sneak by, and if I could escape by putting my foot down it'd be alright but somehow the milita jeeps are equipped with turbo boosters of some sort, they always catch up and ram me off the road. I find all those little fights a bit boring, I'd rather get on with the missions. Still, you can't please everyone, and I guess the PC is a bit spoiled historically for FPS games. Maybe I'll stick at it and see if there's anything more interesting later on. Otherwise, I'll go back through Bioshock and keep busy till GTA IV finally gets released on PC next month :-D

And seriously....why did the guy not get vaccinated against malaria. Does this illness become something other than a mild irritant later in the game? A vital plot point? (yes, you have to do stuff for the underground to get medicine...is there a payoff?)

Also - the save points and safe houses - semi-pointless in the PC version since you can save anywhere. I suppose they are useful for storing guns and sleeping till a different time of day, etc.

Why do i have to equip the map to use the monocular!? Why don't I have a torch or ability to buy night vision?! Why...ah, never mind. I'm far too hard to please!

I agree with Azro, I find I don't care about the story, it seems a bit soulless. But...that's just my opinion. And I'm probably still bitter at it not being as good as I was expecting. I would love a patch that introduces more neutral NPCs and herds of animals...

Good points - graphics are pretty good and I gather pretty much better than anything else on consoles, world IS large, health system is a nice idea - the whole bleed-out/self heal thing is a good concept, and the open way you can pick missions. I think it's highly ambitious but the flaws spoil it for me.

Still...I've heard rumours of a Deus Ex 3...I'll go start nursing high expectations for that instead of moaning about FC2 being more mediocre than expected...


October 28, 2008, 5:33 pm

PS - apologies for the long comment, I had no idea I'd waffled on quite so much!


October 28, 2008, 6:22 pm

@gdawg304 - actually you're right, the game should get marked down simply for the lack of hippos, I love hippos! In fact I have a wooden hippo sitting on top of my monitor right now :)

I do agree with you about being able to lean left and right - I did find that omission quite strange, since it was such a good feature in Far Cry, although I remember it from Soldier of Fortune fondly too.

I also wouldn't accuse you of "slating my opinion" since we're just offering different opinions, that's the way things should be.

I didn't realise that you could save anywhere in the PC version, believe me, unlocking the safe houses in order to save your progress is pretty damn important in the console versions.

You make a valid point about who the checkpoint guards are working for, and whether they're working for the same faction as you. However, there's plenty of reference to you being a "deniable asset" and that "our troops won't know you're working for us" to get around that one.

As for the malaria issue, there is no definitive vaccine. There's a plethora of different preventative treatments that usually require regular pills that need to be taken before the trip, during and after. Having had to take this kind of medication myself, I know that the worst part is that stuff like Lariam and Chloroquine can make you feel pretty horrible by themselves. Of course, you'd think that your character would have started his malaria treatment before shipping out and had some pills with him though!

And, it's hardly good practice having no mosquito nets over the beds in the safe houses :)

The big problem for me now is that Fallout 3 has landed on my desk, so do I leave Far Cry 2 behind and start that? Or do I just play FC2 until Gears 2 arrives? Decisions, decisions…


October 28, 2008, 8:55 pm

@Riyad - I think pretty much my view of FC2 is very much biased by my high expectations and the inevitable comparison with Crysis - which is possibly the best looking game I've played but very far from flawless. Honestly - if I could get around the checkpoints a bit more easily to just do the missions, that would make it infinitely better for me and less tedious.

Malaria - bah, I'm an accountant, not a doctor! :-D

I think the quicksave feature on the PC is a plus for me, because if i had to wade through 3 checkpoints every time before taking on a risky move, I'd be very annoyed! Still, Far Cry had a checkpoint system and was damn hard, and I played it to the end - it was a big game!

Hippos....and giraffes. I want giraffes in the game. And crocodiles so that I can pretend I'm Steve Irwin and poke it with a stick lol

But now you've brought it up at the end - Fallout 3, allow me to assist the decision - get reviewing! I need to know if i need to add it to my 'keep me busy till GTA IV' list. You've already formed an opinion of FC2, time to throw it to the side ;-)

Off topic - have you guys at TR heard any news about the Cowon S9 Curve? I need a new PMP to drive my SE530s since I spilled water on my iPod classic...


October 28, 2008, 9:41 pm

Far Cry 2 is one of the best FPS I have played in months, IMO. True the physics aren't THAT great compared to Crysis but the graphics really DO blow you away. The realism could have been pushed a bit further as highlighted in the comments above, but is satisfying enough, again, IMO.

I saw above that you guys have a copy of Fallout 3, please please pretty please, let us have a review of that too, it must be one of the games I have been particularely been looking forward to!


October 28, 2008, 10:18 pm

Review of Fallout 3 is coming Soon(TM) - I shall be playing tonight, however haha!!


October 28, 2008, 10:37 pm

I'm afraid that I'm not reviewing Fallout 3, that will be Stu again. I'll be doing Gears of War 2 instead. I've been waiting a long time for Fallout 3 and I'm looking forward to just playing it, rather than reviewing it, so I don't mind letting Stu have the honours :)

The review will be up next week - it's not the kind of game that you can come to a conclusion on in a few hours after all…

Oh, and yes giraffes are awesome too, different to hippos, but awesome nonetheless. Have you ever seen giraffes running? It’s like the glide across the ground, it’s quite amazing.

Ubisoft should put in a baboon patch too - baboons should wander around picking up guns and firing them indiscriminately


October 28, 2008, 11:36 pm

I did have a laugh at some of the comments! OK, so we want to make this realistic then do we? Having lived in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa for many years, why not add in a "no fuel" patch - whereby fuel is unavailable due to the corrupt government and therefore chasing each other in a Jeep is a non-event as you are all stuck either queueing for fuel or trying to find a bicycle with inflated tyres.

Come on guys, it's a game - not the darned Discovery Channel.

@Riyad - baboon patch would be awesome, especially if you add the "marula fruit" level whereby all baboons consume the fruit, get drunk on it as it ferments in their gut and then commandeer vehicles, drive recklessly and then shoot up the place!


October 28, 2008, 11:43 pm

What about a patch that has a village of monkeys and an evil ghost pirate....oops getting a bit carried away there...

Well I'd be happy with hippos, giraffes and rhinos. Baboons are good too. Maybe we should start a poll on 'Animals you'd most like to see in Far Cry 2'...I'm definitely voting Hippos, they can surprise you on land or water!

In fairness, the only things that really REALLY bug me is the checkpoint situation because it gets boring, and I'm not sure how you could get round that - perhaps if the map didn't have quite so many bottlenecks and offered alternative routes, surely not every crossroads would have a guard station? That, and being able to lean and go prone, and also to use the monocular without equipping the map first (that one's definitely minor). I guess the PC is spoiled when it comes to FPS games and this one doesn't hit the mark (for me) quite so much after playing Crysis, Crysis Warhead, and COD4 online, plus my fond memories of Far Cry, HL2 (+ Ep 1 & 2). But the open mission structure, health system and graphics are all good.

I'll persevere....it's not bad, it's just not quite what I had hoped. Although a friend of mine just got Dead Space on the PS3 and has been telling me to get it non stop since yesterday...I'm not sure I have enough spare underpants to play that though, looks like a real creep-fest!

Looking forward to the Fallout 3 review!

@Hugo - be sure to post your initial impressions on here then for us information hungry peeps! ;-)


October 29, 2008, 12:11 am

@Riyad - Any plans to review the Xperia x1 anytime soon? Also the Sony Vaio TT any plans...


October 29, 2008, 2:22 am

I lived for 3 years in West Africa - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. I saw a couple of hippos and elephants, as well as some crocs and monkeys. Don't expect wildlife!

Only just started FC2, but from what I played of Crysis, Far Cry 2 will not be gathering dust on my shelf like Crysis is.


October 29, 2008, 1:44 pm


'Realistic' isn't about the absolutes, it's about the feeling that the situation you're in is convincing, just like a good fantasy film. Light Sabres aren't real but the Star Wars world is so well put together and filled out that you allow yourself to run with the story. Far Cry 2 just doesn't do this.


Likewise, the animals thing is just an example of what seems to be lacking - we're not saying we want to see prides of lions round every corner.

Add in the fact there are annoying gameplay elements (i.e. the checkpoints) and you have a game that has underwhelmed some of us.


October 29, 2008, 4:54 pm

@Gavyn Britton - yep, the lack of baboons was definitely a missed opportunity. Once when I was up in the mountains outside of Cape Town, we stopped at a vantage point where a guy was frantically chasing a baboon who had stolen the keys from the ignition of his car. We eventually convinced him that it wasn't a wise course of action to try and wrestle the keys from the baboon, and that he was better off just calling the rental company and paying for new keys!

@azza21 - we've been chasing the Xperia, but haven't got hold of a review sample yet. I can't say that I'm that excited about it though. I should be getting a BlackBerry Storm and T-Mobile G1 through next week though. Likewise, Andy has requested a Sony TT, which should be arriving shortly.

@gdawg304 - As for Dead Space, I've got a copy of it sitting next to my PS3. I had planned of playing it last weekend, but then Far Cry 2 arrived on the Friday. I still want to give it a go - staying up late, with the lights off and headphones on could make for a pretty intense experience :)

Matthew Bunton

November 10, 2008, 12:40 pm

I really liked this game however it did do its upmost to ensure I didn't. Honestly how some of these game ideas get past the testing stage is beyond me. there were some serious bad game design decisions made.

Do they even get real gamers to test these games?


December 10, 2008, 4:50 pm

@ Matthew Bunton

I'm intrigued, what exactly did you like about this game, then?

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