Review: Far Cry 2 (PS3)

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Title: Far Cry 2
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (3.8 GB)
Release Date: August 9, 2011
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 15
Far Cry 2 is also available on Xbox 360.
The PlayStation 3 disc version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was purchased by the reviewer.
PS Nation Review Policy

Ubisoft and its Montreal development studio took over the intellectual property of Far Cry and in 2008 released its sequel onto the world. Even though it was touted as the true successor to the first game, it had none of the original characters and a very different locale. Now seven years later as part of the Far Cry Compilation I dive back into Far Cry 2 and relive some fond memories.

Gameplay:
The menu screens are dirty crinkled pages in an old binder and after flicking through choosing the difficulty and character selection, the game begins as your player is sat in the back of a jeep being driven through some dusty African Savannah villages and plains. The journey is long but it does a good job of showing off the game’s technical achievements and helps to set up the story.

Along with the machete, you can carry three other weapons, selectable from the directional pad. Pressing Select answers the phone if it’s ringing or brings up the map any other time. Using the map doesn’t pause the game but instead brings a dirty and torn map and compass into the player’s view. You can still run around in the game while this is on screen, albeit with a significantly obscured view and the inability to fire a weapon. I think it’s an excellent dynamic that makes the world feel more realistic.

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I think it’s best to get a few issues I had with this game known sooner rather than later. These are things that frustrated me so much when I played it all those years ago that I never ended up completing it. A major part of this game is the disease your player gets and has during the entire game, malaria, and it’s very annoying. The player needs to pop a pill to stave off the deadly effects of the illness.

Seeing as this happens around the half hour mark no matter what you’re doing it can be frustrating to say the least. Another issue I found was the enemy A.I. that seemed to be either an expertly crafted hunting party or complete imbeciles.

… guns will jam and even break during a firefight …
I would kill a person with a sniper rifle only to see his partner, who is standing a foot or so from his fallen friend, continue to stand there oblivious to the sound of the rifle or the murder of his friend. In the next instance I would be running for my life from a group of enemies who seem to see through any obstacle.

Then there are the re-spawning convoys and guard posts that reappear only moments after you’ve destroyed them and make traversing the map a pain instead of a pleasure. To top it off, guns will jam and even break during a firefight and ammo definitely isn’t abundant. Then, just when you think it couldn’t be any worse, the autosave puts you back a good five minutes before all this hell took place.

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But for some strange reason I now like this game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still annoying and all those problems I had are still there, but I think I’ve just found a different way of looking at Far Cry 2 since played it last. The developers wanted this game to be difficult and evil, they wanted it to kick you when you were down.

I tried sneaking into an outpost and dispatching a few guards and before I knew it all hell had broken loose. I even ran out of ammo and ran around desperately trying to find another weapon. With my last ounce of health I managed to find a rifle that soon broke, but was just enough to kill the last two enemies.

… many people, myself included, weren’t ready for a game like this …
As I ran back to the jeep before the fire I had accidentally set reached it, I realized how exhilarating that encounter was. This game needs you to rise from the ashes, to fight with every last breath and to never give up.

Sadly for the developers all those years ago, many people, myself included, weren’t ready for a game like this and probably didn’t give it enough of a chance. I suggest cranking the difficulty down to easy and enjoying the fight.

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Visuals:
From the very beginning of the game as your player is taken to a hotel in the run-down old cab, I was impressed with how good it looks. Parts of the game are looking dated now but overall Far Cry 2 has aged fairly well.

The colour palette is fairly bland, partly due to the game’s setting. The brown grass and dirt are abundant here. Shadows have little to no bleeding edges so appear as a shocking contrast to the sun bleached surroundings.

The PlayStation 3 sometimes struggles with this game as screen tearing is frequent but understandable considering what the Dunia Engine is trying to achieve. There is an expansive open world with a day-night cycle. Vegetation is reactive to the player. It bends and moves as the player moves through it, a sight not seen in most games, even today.

… a level of immersion rarely seen in first-person open-world games …
A small fire can quickly become a raging brush inferno that devastates its surroundings. Even the little touches like lifting the bonnet of a broken down vehicle and tightening a few bolts show the level of detail gained from pushing the Dunia engine to its limits.

The developers wanted you to become immersed in their world, adding plenty of realism to the things around you. The realism becomes painful to watch when your injured character pries a bullet out of his arm with a rusty pair of pliers or the wind changes and that fire you set starts coming toward you.

Even the subtle camera blur after running for a while causing you to stop and take a breath is perfectly done. All of this gives Far Cry 2 a level of immersion rarely seen in first-person open-world games.

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Audio:
Various people you encounter during the game speak their native tongue of Afrikaans or Zulu and more often than not, English. There aren’t any real standout performances but all do a decent job.

All the typical sounds and animal calls of the jungle and open plains are present here, along with a few species of wildlife that they emanate from. Explosions and gunfire are very satisfying offering a hefty thump and crack that echoes across the outpost you’re attacking.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game had a multiplayer mode that, at the time was okay and offered some enjoyment but after all these years isn’t worth mentioning.

… it was one of the catalysts that altered its genre …
Conclusion:
Far Cry 2 hates you and isn’t ashamed about it. It’ll let you think you’re a badass killer and then turn the tables against you, and then set fire to those tables and back you into a corner with a broken gun and a terrifying realization that you’ve just run out of lifesaving pills. But for all its brutality and pure devilish nature it keeps you entertained.

I never did hunt down the Jackal and complete Far Cry 2 but I saw the developer’s idea and vision of pure excellence that was born in this game. In turn, those ideas were nurtured and evolved into the sequels that followed. This will always retain a place of pride in my collection as it was one of the catalysts that altered its genre and even games as a whole for the better.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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