Far Cry 2 Xbox 360 Review
If Far Cry 2 was an advert for holidays in Africa, then the sun, the heat, zebras and nice grass certainly proves to be appealing elements of a relaxing vacation. The deal breaker comes in the form of not being able to drive around without being pursued and shot at, but then again some people do like living on the knife edge, I don’t, so I’m certainly not planning to visit sunny Africa any time soon.
Well, I’m always willing to visit the country whilst playing Far Cry 2 which is seemingly safer than visiting the real thing (note, I understand that Far Cry 2 is totally fictional, so no real offence directed at African people). Far Cry 2’s African environment is huge in size (roughly 20 miles), and whilst you can’t really expect tons of variety other than sand, sparkly water and sunburned grass, Ubisoft have done a commendable job and came up with one of the best virtual worlds that I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Key to this are the visuals: whilst the textures can look a wee bit artificial, the grassy locations, the burning sun, the shadows and the guns, are all amazingly detailed. I can’t finish here without mentioning the lovely fire, as the flames here burn through grass, spreading in the direction that the wind blows, thus aiming for those explosive barrels or arming yourself with a flame thrower can – and will – cause plenty of panicked and fiery chaos.
Jack Carver has been given the chop, in place you can select from a total of 9 mercenaries, all carrying malaria and each having the common goal of killing a menacing arms dealer, known only as the Jackal. Upon selecting your character, the other eight will appear throughout the game as buddies. You can help out your buddies by completing missions for them and in turn, they’ll help you out as well, giving you optional tasks during missions and even coming to your aid if you find yourself taking one too many bullets and tasting the sand from the ground. Buddies can also die and realistically they’ll stay dead, if you don’t decide to be kind and reload your last save that is, and if they are downed in a gunfight you can do the right thing and attempt to help them, you could do the cold thing and abandon them, or you may have to end their suffering by giving them an off-camera bullet. The game never forgets your history with each character and it’s almost heartbreaking to lose a real friend that has helped you out on many occasions.
Far Cry 2 is not a shooter of the run and gun variety, you’ll find this out right at the beginning of the game. Your health gauge quickly depletes, so it’s a case of making plenty of use of your sprinting ability, taking cover when you can and using your health syrettes. When your health falls to a certain level, you may have to plunge a knife into your body to remove a bullet, use your teeth to remove shrapnel, or snap your arm back into place amongst other things (all these animations look as pleasant as you would expect) before you can use a syrette.
Weapons on the other hand wear down over time, causing them to jam at the most awkward of times, like during moments when people are shooting at you. Their age can be determined by their look and it’s always a good idea to head to the nearest weapon shop to swap older weapons for newer ones, as buying (the currency here is diamonds, so don‘t expect any money in your pay packets) weapons will give you an unlimited supply of mint and reliable guns that won‘t be as reluctant to fire.
All this shooting happens for a reason (the actual story is decent, but nothing truly special) and missions are as familiar as many would expect. You’ll be undertaking tasks for two rival factions, the UFLL and APR, and playing them against one another. There’s also repetitive arms dealer missions, which see you destroying convoys to unlock new weapons, other missions that earn you the important malaria tablets when completed, and assassination and buddy missions to earn you some shiny diamonds. Driving around, shooting people, constantly being shot at and picking things up does get a little repetitive at times, and the length of the game sometimes makes it feel as if it is outstaying its welcome a bit, but I found that it was such a fun world to be in that it’s a feeling that never really persisted for any great length of time.
Speaking of the world, you’ll have to do some driving around to get to different locations (a fantastic colour coordinated signpost system, means that you don’t always have to refer to your map), although hopping on a bus can shorten this journey. The aforementioned map, when accessed, realistically appears in your hands, whilst satellite navigation also appears in each car that you steal (no one locks their vehicles in Africa apparently). It all keeps things entirely seamless, keeping you directly immersed in the game world.
This has been a mostly gushing review so far, although this is the moment of truth where I reveal the true failings of the game. Far Cry 2 is a buggy game, and at this moment in time it is in a rather sorry state. To be fair, I haven’t experienced many bugs, but the ones I have, have caused me much frustration. On one occasion I was unable to access a mission, because the mission rooms door was closed, I somehow managed to work around this, although more severe was when I reached 92% (92%!) the game decided that every time I loaded it from then on, it would crash. I’m now waiting and hoping for a patch, which is apparently in the works. We’ve had giants such as Fallout 3, Fable II and this very game that have caused frustration with some nasty bugs. I’m hoping that this is not going to become a popular trend with developers, releasing a buggy game and patching it months down the line.
Far Cry 2’s campaign is a very immersive experience, whilst it also contains a decent enough online mode and a brilliant map editor tool. Without the bugs I would have quite easily given this an 8/10, with the bugs I think I’m being fair to give the game a 6/10. Let’s hope that the patch sorts things out.