FarCry 2 – Reviewed – Xbox 360

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Finally, A proper title has been developed that takes place on the all to unstable continent of Africa.

Being Africans ourselves means that our experience of FarCry 2 was always going to be different to those who have never had the chance to see Africa with their own two eyes. Ubisoft Montreal took on a monster of a task when they decided to base such a massive shooter in the African Bush.

So the question is, how does it stack up as a shooter and do the locals approve at their attempt to recreate our massive backyard.

T.I.A (This is Africa)

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As previously mentioned, Far Cry 2 is based in Africa, a setting that we are all too familiar with. Spend nothing less than a few minutes in the game and you will easily start to see that a hell of a lot of effort has been put into the setting. If you want Africa, then that’s what you can expect.

Be it the sounds of familiar birds in the trees, the sunset over the veld or the banter of the Afrikaans mercenaries in the guard posts, you are going to be amazed at exactly how much detail has been added into this game to make it feel like a true African experience, the environment nearly steals the show entirely.

This game is absolutely massive and will have you romping through savannah, deserts, jungle and woodlands spread over fifty square kilometers of pure African landscape. It’s like visiting the Kruger National Park, except with guns, lots of guns.

The Devil wears Khaki

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The entire story behind Far Cry 2 is fairly simple. You are a mercenary from another land who has been sent to Africa to hunt down an arms dealer called the Jackal. The Jackal is profiting heavily by supplying both sides and in doing so, is helping the killing and bloodshed continue. Upon arriving in Africa, you contract malaria, which forces you to constantly have to look out for medicine to prevent you from meeting your untimely fate. You will run into two major factions in the game and it will be up to you to play them against each other so that you can complete your objective.

Although the story is fairly different, you wouldn’t be wrong to think that this game will you give you a lot the same feeling you got when watching Blood Diamond.

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The game includes quite a few mercenaries from all over the world. When you begin, you choose which of them you want to be. The ones that you do not choose still populate the world allowing you to interact with them, do missions and become your buddies.

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The buddy system works as follows. One of the characters will become your ‘best buddy’, who will help you with missions by giving you easier methods or alternate approaches. Your second best buddy is the one who bails you out when you get into trouble. If you get ‘killed’ in battle and your second best buddy is available, they will come and pull you out of the mess you have made and help you clear out the enemies in the area.

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Be warned though, any of your buddies get hurt and you are unable to heal them or choose to put them out of their misery then they can die, for good.

Locked and loaded

When it comes down to gameplay, Far Cry 2 is a true shooter at it’s core. The type of shooter that’s weapons feel so solid and the action so intense that it reminds of those good old days when gaming meant nothing but playing FPS games on your PC.

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If you are still wondering what type of game Far Cry 2 is, then let me explain. On the most basic level, this game is a sandbox FPS shooter. It feels as if it is the culmination of a few different games that you have already played and at the same time, something unique. Although I don’t like comparing one game to another, there are a few titles that popped into my mind whilst playing. Imagine taking Grand Theft Auto, mixing it together with a pinch of Assassin’s Creed, one tablespoon of The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and then mixing it together with a cup of Crysis.

There is something that I need to explain about this game though and I suggest that if you are interested in this game then you pay attention. Far Cry 2 is not about the amazing story, it’s not about meeting interesting people and finding loot. This game may come across as a sort of role playing game, but as I said earlier, this game is a die-hard shooter through and through. Buy it if you like shooting at things, a lot, because you will be.

The Great Trek

While you will do many missions, the truth is that most of them involve the following formula. Get mission, travel somewhere, kill anything that moves. At first I felt slightly disappointed with the “samey” feeling of all the missions but slowly over time, I started to realise why the game was created the way it was.

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While I am not a fan of developers relying too much on their tech-wizardy to make a game feel fun, it is the exact reason why Far Cry 2 is a real treat to any shooter fan. The varied landscapes of the African continent as well as the full day/night cycles, dynamic weather, amazing fire propagation and arsenal of weapons are everything in this game. I realised that I didn’t really mind that so many missions were similar, the sheer difference that the locations and environmental differences made meant that every single repetitive mission played out in a completely different way.

The fact that there are just so many different ways to approach missions means that the game never truly feels like it is stagnating. You can try the stealth approach, using silenced MP5’s and long range dart rifles. Not your thing? How about bringing the fight straight to the suckers with grenade launchers, automatic rifles, RPG’s and a ton of molotov cocktails.

Make a choice and face the consequences

It really is up to you. The action can get so incredibly intense as the AI cleverly move to flank you and catch you off guard more than you would expect. On the other hand, the first time you manage to silently take out an entire guard post without attracting any attention or alerting any other soldiers, you will feel a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.

I say it again, Far Cry 2 is a shooter, put into a setting that allows you to play as much as you want and experiment with different ways to accomplish goals. With such a huge setting and so many main and side mission to do, you are looking at more than 50 hours to complete the game. So if you are looking for a fun shooter that you can pick up and play for a long time to come, here it is.

Multiplayer and the Map Editor

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The game also features full multiplayer modes that include deathmatch, team deathmatch as well as few others that resemble capture the flag and a pretty interesting mode that is essentially a mixture of ‘Protect the VIP” and “Take and Hold”. While the multiplayer is quite a lot of fun and plays fairly similarly to the formula seen in the Call of Duty franchise, it does come across as quite obvious that the single player game was the main focus of the developers.

Locals will be happy to know that the netcode on Far Cry 2’s multiplayer is very similar to Bad Company, meaning that you can join international games and still enjoy a basically lag free game. Bonus!

But wait, there’s more. The map editor. If you haven’t already read about the map editor in the countless amounts of Far Cry 2 previews available, including ours, available > here, then let me give you a quick run through.

Ubisoft Montreal has managed to make an incredibly simple to use map editor that ships standard with every version of the game. The controls are simple and require no techy knowledge to use. All of the elements in the map editor are taken straight from the disc, which means that they can be easily shared over Xbox Live and PSN because of their small file size because essentially all that other players will be doing will be downloading the configuration settings and placement info.

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The map editor really gives the ability to create, or even recreate levels easily. Jump into a multiplayer game that has a custom map and you will be asked if you want to download it. Say yes and you will have it in a minute or so and can jump straight in. At the end of the map, you can rate it if you want and then decide to keep it or dump it. It really is quite spectacular and could very well be the reason that a lot of people keep going back to the multiplayer. At the time of writing, I have already seen remade versions of COD4’s undergrowth, Quake III levels as well as a very lame attempt at Gears of War’s Gridlock.

My African Dream

What you get at the end of the day is an incredibly huge, immersive, action packed and absolutely gorgeous looking shooter.

With smooth and stunning visuals, amazing sound and the fact that you will never ever leave the first person view, you really will feel like it is you standing under a tree in the African veld, stinking like something that died a few days prior.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 8.5/10 [Solid as a rock. You can almost feel the gun firing in your hand] Presentation: 9/10 [ A truly magnificent setting, amazing visuals and aesthetics all round] Sound: 9.5/10 [ “Skiet daai Bliksem!” Arguably one of the most impressive elements in the game] Value: 9/10 [ 50+ hour campaign, Multiplayer and a Map Editor. Well worth your money ]

Overall: 9/10 [A solid shooter wrapped in a magnificent setting]

Last Updated: October 30, 2008

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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