Unfortunately, there are times when all the good intentions actually help things go awry. Jamming weapons, numerous, accurate enemies and a slow healing system make it fairly easy to die at medium difficulty settings and above, and the issue of distance can make this a lot of hard work. Basically, on the console versions you can only save the game at specific points or by taking a quick snooze at a safe house.
Take a mission on one side of the map, die minutes from completing it on the other side, and you’ll have to make the long journey all over again. This wouldn’t be so bad, but the map is absolutely packed with guarded checkpoints, faction strongholds and patrolling jeeps, the residents of which will fire at you on sight. This would, you might think, make clearing out these problem areas a priority, but doing so is a wasted effort – you’ll be recognized for your efforts, but the troops will be replenished within the hour.
As a result, Far Cry 2 can be a bit of a grind at some points, and a real force for frustration at others. For example, it took me an hour to complete one fairly innocuous mission just because the obstacles between mission start and mission end wore me down, piece by piece by piece, every time I attempted it. The only ways around this are to a) use the bus or b) make constant detours to safe houses along the way, taking a little nap in each and every one.
Both solutions spoil the atmosphere, so neither is ideal. And while the PC version mercifully allows you to save anywhere (making it the one to get if you have the choice), I think the respawning guard posts will still get on your nerves to some extent.
As I’m on a bit of a moaning roll, I should also mention that the AI during gunfights isn’t actually all that advanced. Yes, you’ll find yourself sneakily outflanked by enemies, but many are perfectly happy to stand five feet from you and shoot until they need to reload, then shoot some more until one of you lies dead. Occasionally you’ll find one guard standing in the opposite direction, oblivious to the fact that you’ve just noisly blown up his post, his transport and his colleagues while he was, apparently, standing with his eyes shut and listening to his walkman with the volume turned up to 11.
And could I also mention that, while having to rescue buddies is a nice idea, it’s sometimes impossible to find them. With no marker on the map or flashing prompt – just a nice, realistic flare signal – your chum could well expire before you even clap eyes on them. When you do, just hope you have some medicine to spare. You don’t? Well, there goes the end of another beautiful friendship.