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Saturday | December 10, 2016
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Far Cry 2 (PC)

Far Cry 2 (PC)

Far Cry was one of my favourite first person shooter games of all time, so when I heard that a new team were making the ‘follow-up’, my heart sank. Ubisoft Montreal are responsible for the sequel and it shares absolutely nothing in common with the original classic of a few years ago. Yes, rest in peace Jack Carver.

The sceptics amongst us will immediately be aware that the name "Far Cry 2" is merely a marketing ploy, set to reel in gamers of old with the naming convention. However when this subsides, the big question remains to be asked. Is it actually any good ?

The game immediately lets you select a character and although there are some rather dubious choices such as an ex IRA guy (very poor taste indeed) the rest of the world starts to form around you. There are a plethora of non player characters and buddies who you can choose to work with. The game begins with a simple tutorial section introducing you to the basic first person shooter controls as well as the games background story. It is worth mentioning that there is a rather long-winded introduction sequence which uses the in game engine – around 8 minutes or so. I feel this could have been trimmed a little to immerse the gamer in the action rather than be subjected to a long drive in a car (even if it is pretty).

Your main goal is to find The Jackal, an evil deity who supplies weapons to the APR and UFLL, the two warring factions in the FC2 African setting. As I said earlier, the game has absolutely nothing to do with the original.

Well, there are a few similarities. The environment is an open world "shooter" and many people who hate linear game worlds will find this very positive and refreshing. The closest association I can get on paper would be a hybrid child of Oblivion and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. To be fair a game such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. focused heavily on the RPG elements whereas Far Cry 2 is more about the gunning and running. You can upgrade your character but primarily you will be travelling on quests and shooting as many people as possible (never a bad thing let’s be honest).

The game has no inventory options and it all revolves around four weapon slots. You can have a sidearm or accessory, a machete, a primary weapon (SMG for example) and a special weapon, such as a flamethrower or rocket launcher. When you first fire up the game you don’t have access to all these weapons you unlock them by completing side quests for weapons vendors located throughout the world.

When I bring up the subject of quests, I use that term loosely, as you aren’t given a quest log like you get in Oblivion or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. but you have one active at a time. These jobs can be long in nature and you end up moving in various directions to get them completed. These quests are given to you quite regularly through the APR and UFLL headquarters and they are pre-planned missions … you can’t choose between both factions to progress the story. One of the unfortunate side effects of the game mission methodology is that at times they seem to be very unfocused, so you are never really progressing  a story while getting involved with strong personalities (such as Fable 2, reviewed recently on GamingHeaven), so you end up very disconnected from the game and don’t particularly care how it ends up. Far Cry 2 is all about exploration and finding cool things and in the grand scheme of things, it is actually several hours before any kind of interesting story line develops.

It is split up into several areas, you have the main game quests and then you have the weapon vendor quests which normally require you to track down a convoy and disable it for your reward. The weapons you get from completing these are very beneficial to your progress in the main game, but they are so repetitive that I had a hard time sticking with them.

Additionally, quests can come from your buddies as well as from unknown sources in the shape of voices from electrical towers.  Once again, these all require you to go to a location then either steal something, kill someone or blow something up. There are also a plethora of hidden suitcases which reward you with diamonds. To add some spice to the sense of survival, the developers have added quests for medicine, as you have malaria and will die if untreated. I am all for complex stories with a lot of hidden nuances to add to the feeling of being inside the game, but this becomes more of an irritant than a pleasurable twist to the story.

The main quests are the highlight of Far Cry 2 particularly if you make the choice to work with a NPC buddy. The buddy who likes you most will give you a call after you receive key missions offering an alternative way to complete the tasks. Sometimes if you accept you get a completely different way to complete the quests and it certainly makes for a broader and more diverse system to achieve your goals.

So while some of the missions can get repetitive, the free roaming world environment somewhat counters this methodology as you can approach places of interest from any angle you like. Another noticeable addition with this engine are the impressive fire effects, not only do they look surprisingly realistic but if you set fire to a tree for example, the surrounding bush and shrubbery will ignite and spread and before long you are in the middle of a forest fire. I don’t think I have ever seen this before, so the game gets some bonus points.

The AI is pretty impressive and many of the characters use cover, try to hide and at times even flank you for the quick kill. The gunplay is also quite realistic and each weapon is rated on not only their power, but condition. This means that even though you have a formidable SMG weapon, if it is rusted to the hilt, then you can expect frequent locks, requiring you to unjam it mid fire fight. The combat is very impressive overall with people looking as if they are getting shot with realistic rag doll effects. Even when firing rockets into the air, they don’t always follow the same trajectory and thanks to the involvement of Havok you will see trees and material move and weave as the expulsion effects their real world physics. The damage model is top notch.

While I have focused on some of the negatives so far, it is the coding of the AI that I feel brings Far Cry 2 out of the average zone into the higher echelons of gaming. Enemy AI is clearly able to adapt as you do, and you will see soldiers duck in behind cars and vehicles to avoid gun fire, while cleverly lobbing a grenade in your direction as they make a run for a building. They also communicate verbally in the middle of a fight to try and pinpoint your location and flank you.

Even though the AI is impressive, it isn’t perfect. I noticed on more than one occasion soldiers standing still like mannequins or enemies running right past me apparently in need of a bathroom break.

One of the big focuses in Far Cry 2 is travelling and I have to be honest in stating that at times I found the massive distances somewhat slowed down the excitement within the game. Don’t get me wrong, I am aware games like Oblivion and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. are pretty much similar, but I really wasn’t expecting this with a Far Cry game. Thankfully you have the ability to hop into trucks, cars. jeeps and boats which helps.

Clearly the developers were intent on realism because when injured you can heal yourself in various ways. Many times you will be removing bullets from your arms and legs with medical pliers as well as pulling out shards of glass from your torso and limbs. These range from interesting concepts to rather gruesome and slightly unnecessary. My young son turned a nasty yellow colour and left the room when watching one of these.

Strangely enough, one of the other issues I have with the game is the very limited range of enemies you fight. Obviously as the game is set in Africa you don’t expect Alien ships to make an entrance, but I feel that more emphasis should have been placed on slightly varying the opposition. The guys you fight at the start of the game are exactly the same as those you will be head to head with near the end.

While we are focusing on the PC version today, I have nonetheless extensively played the Xbox 360 version as well. In the console version you are allowed to save only at designated spots which are represented by blue wall mounted boxes. In the PC version you can save anywhere you wish, without limit, but the same console based boxes are littered throughout the environment. It is safe to say that PC gamers will be taking more risks than their console counterparts.

This leads me into the Dunia engine, created by Ubisoft Montreal. It looks good on the Xbox 360, but the PC version is much more scalable and with high end hardware it looks quite stunning at high resolution. If you are lucky enough to own a 260 GTX or higher then you will be able to run the game maxed out at high resolutions. The console version also suffers a little from lower frame rates and rougher edges on weapons and vehicles but I guess this is to be expected. While the graphics aren’t up to the level of Crysis, they do run at a considerably better framerate. While it has been hyped that Far Cry 2 would incorporate Nvidia’s PhsyX, it appears in my testing that with it disabled in the driver, no differences were apparent. Havok is used on a software level however so some of the cool effects are clearly originating from this. A 4870 also gave great results with the engine.

There are no problems with the audio side of the game and all the combat sound effects such as gunfire and zings across metal surfaces are first class. The ambient sound effects steal the show such as the grass noises under movement as well as the wildlife in the surround environment. The game also supports amBX which should impress the hardcore fans.

There is also support for multiplayer with Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag making up some of the key elements. Interestingly they have also included a territorial control mode as well as a progression system which lets you earn diamonds to get weapon upgrades. Ubisoft have also included a multiplayer map editor which has a rather steep learning curve but rewards those persistent enough to master it as a worthwhile side venture.

Far Cry 2 is a highly entertaining game which combines a very capable engine with a free roaming style environment much in the same vein as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. The AI has some minor quirks here and there but for the most part is very effective and fools you at times into believing that the guys you are fighting are as close to real people as possible. There is also long term playability with a single player campaign in the region of 25 to 30 hours and considerable options for multiplayer. Just don’t be expecting to jump into the shoes of Jack Carter again and you should take something positive from the experience.

Gameplay

87/100

Good combat mechanics and a large variety of weapons. The world is huge and the ability to explore is high.

Graphics
88/100

Nice textures and effects but the character models are a little run of the mill in such a fine engine.

Sound
90/100

Great weapon sounds and ambient sounds. Very impressive.

Value
92/100
Huge sprawling single player campaign and multiplayer is solid.
Overall
(not an average)
87/100

A great game and should appeal to a wide audience.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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