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Could have been much more...
on 29 December 2008
Ubisofts sequel shares little with the Crytek original. The sci-fi leanings have been removed; in fact the only real similarity is the jungle setting. Controversially, the setting for Fary Cry 2 is Africa. However, its more like a safari version than anything seen on TV. The population comprises a baffling selection of nationalities, reinforcing the fact this is a fictional recreation of a country.
The plot quickly gets going, and after a few set pieces, the protagonist has been struck with malaria, and narrowly avoids murder at the hands of your intended target; arms dealer The Jackal. Various tutorials follow, explaining aspects like health and weapons.
Far Cry 2 does make attempts to innovate. Recharging health is out, replaced by an irritating syringe system. When the protagonist reaches critical health, a quick press of L2 repairs his wounds. This is done via a quick animation showing a bullet being removed or bandage getting applied. This gives weight to the character, even if they soon get repetitive.
Fire effects are where Far Cry 2 excels. Until now, this has never been realised so effectively in-game. Watching a bush fire spread, engulfing everything it touches has a truly hypnotic quality. Not only is it a fantastic visual effect, but can be used tactically in combat. Effective use of molotov cocktails prevents enemies flanking, and can also provide the means for a quick retreat.
Theres a nice selection of guns throughout the game. Ones from fallen enemies are generally in poor condition; jamming and in some cases falling apart completely. This creates a lot of tension when entering a fire fight, and treads a fine line between chaos and control. However, if combat had the same lethality as Modern Warfare, this would be a fantastic addition. Yet, headshots do not register at all, many enemies take a full clip to put down. This is unacceptable, especially considering how the odds are stacked against you. As a result, progress can feel a matter of luck than actual skill.
Vehicles are included to traverse the 50km2 landscape. This is limited to a few jeeps, trucks and the occasional gunboat. Trucks have the tendency to flip when travelling on anything other than dirt roads, and just a few bullets will cause them to smoke uncontrollably. Another problem is reading the map whilst driving. This takes a long time to get used to, and isnt helped by an abscence of map markers. It is refreshing to see Ubisoft Montreal trying a more organic approach to navigation, but like much of its innovations, isnt really appreciated.
The environment is split into sections, with the map switching upon entering a new location. This felt confusing, and an unnecessary complication, making the map seem even larger. Considering the general lack of things to do, Far Cry 2 proves that open world games shouldnt rely on size alone. Smaller, more densely populated maps are surely the future.
There are approximately 57 guard posts scattered throughout the map. When cleared of enemies the location has been 'scouted'. Sadly, this makes no difference as they re-spawn indefinitely. A very frustrating aspect, and leaves the impression that progression is impeded by poor design. Unlike the PC version, theres no quick save option. So saving is limited to safe houses, or directly after completing an objective, which can only aggravate matters. There are 221 diamonds located on the map, which act as currency. These can be used to purchase weapons and upgrades; giving some depth to a surprisingly empty game.
For everything Far Cry 2 gets right, it spectacularly fails at another.
The location is stunningly attractive and unique, yet there is a distinct lacks of things to do.
Attempts to deepen the combat system are undermined by poor basics.
Solid and boring in equal measures. A real shame, as this had the potential to be a classic.