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Far Cry 2 review

Excellent
AT A GLANCE
  • Breathtaking environments
  • Massive freedom of play style
  • Loads of variety and depth
  • Not simple to pick-up-and-play
  • Harshly punishes mistakes
  • Cumbersome health recovery

When you first start playing Far Cry 2, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that it absolutely bloody hates you. Gunfire flies from nowhere, peppering you to pieces before you’ve even seen your attacker. Your fragile health bar drops to almost nothing within seconds. There are seemingly-random, one-hit deaths aplenty, and even when you do get a warning, the slow and cumbersome health recovery system means that you often won’t get the time to heal yourself before the final bullet sends you staggering to the ground in a pathetic heap.

But it would be a huge mistake to turn away. A huge and terrible mistake. It’s not Far Cry 2’s fault that its opening hour is defined by repeated stabbing of the continue option. It’s just that it’s trying to craft a richer, more satisfying – and challenging – experience for you than a lot of games do. While regenerating health, clueless enemies and a total disregard for the repercussions of death may have made a lot of recent shooters more accessible, they’ve also simplified them, stripping out some of the depth and replacing skill with perseverance. While Far Cry 2 is certainly no Ikaruga or Mega Man style endurance test, its less lenient approach is a deliberate move with the aim of teaching you how to get the best out of it. And there’s a lot to get.

It’s an intelligently designed game with the concept of thoughtful killing at its centre. The real joys of Far Cry 2 don’t come from gung-ho Rambo raids of enemy bases – although they’re certainly possible – or the sheer number of bad guys you’ve plastered by the end of a mission. They come from an immense sense of freedom and the smug satisfaction of a well-executed battle plan.

Dropped into war-torn Africa with just a pistol, a machete and a couple of contacts, the only instruction you’re given is to find the head bad guy (an amoral arms dealer called The Jackal) and kill him. You’ll talk to the local militia to get missions, using the respect earned to gather information. You’ll make friends with locals and traders, who will give you side-quests and even alternative ways to complete existing briefs. But which tasks you accept and how you carry them out will be entirely down to your own choices. Do you, for instance, tackle an assassination in a tense cease-fire zone by going in guns blazing, before making a quick escape in a waiting car and hiding out until the heat calms down? Or do you slowly stalk your prey into a lonely back alley and make a silent knife kill, walking away without a care in the world?

When asked to steal documents from an enemy base, do you snipe the perimeter guards from the bushes, soften up the rest with grenades and then make a quick smash-and-grab attack, or do you make a methodical stealth run, leaving undetected with a zero body count? No mission in Far Cry 2 ever dictates how you have to play it. You just get a location and an objective and are allowed to do whatever you want when you get there. And with new weapons and equipment unlockable at your own pace via side-missions, there are no limitations apart from your creativity.

Once you realize that those early punishments are just the game’s way of making you think a little harder about how you approach things, the brilliance of its design starts to emerge. Those random deaths weren’t random; you just hadn’t learned the subtle warning signs. The slow, manual healing system isn’t unfair; it just makes you think about falling back and using cover. Barring the occasional AI glitch, enemies react fast to any possible threat, fanning out to find and flank you before you can get close. They’ll use the jungle as camouflage, they’ll fall back defensively if they can’t find you and if they spot you out in the open, some will even jump into vehicles and try to run you over before you can get a shot off. They’re sharp, aggressive, and when they’re nearby you have to be thinking and adapting constantly. It’s an incredibly exhilarating change from the tired old “Circle-strafe for the win” routine.

And it’s not just during missions that you have to keep on your toes. The whole, vast, open-world map is littered with militia outposts, meaning that the journeys to and from your objectives are just as eventful as anything that happens when you get there. Whether you travel by car, boat, on foot, by hang-glider or a combination of all, anything can and will happen as you and your environment play an eternal, bullet-strewn game of cat and mouse. Everything feels organic and lived in, especially in the open countryside areas. There’s no hint of repeated design despite the vastness of the wilderness – a stunning achievement.

The sense of being part of a constantly evolving, unpredictable adventure is hugely liberating. As gorgeously real as Far Cry 2 looks in screenshots and video, nothing can prepare you for how deeply immersive and alive it feels to play. It really is your own story, unfolding spontaneously on a second-by-second basis. Ten playable characters are available too. Your choice won’t affect gameplay, but it will affect the plot. You’ll meet the ones you don’t choose as NPCs, and each will bring their own optional missions and side-stories.

Of course, there are niggles. From time to time it’s a little too easy to get by just by sniping, and some of the game’s collectables require a bit of platforming action, which while incorporated in a subtle way, scream “This is a videogame!” a little too loudly. And when the AI does falter, it’s even more obvious for the same reason. But it’s Far Cry 2’s dense, textural universe that will stay with you long after you power down your system. With gameplay this organic and a world so rich and explorable, Far Cry 2 is a game you’ll live in. You’ll regularly play it until embarrassing o’clock in the morning, and then you’ll get up and shamelessly start all over again. And you’ll love every second.

Oct 15, 2008

More Info

Release date: Oct 21 2008 - Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (US)
Oct 24 2008 - Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC, PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft
Franchise: Far Cry
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:
18+

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52 comments

  • nemesisuprising - June 7, 2010 7:26 p.m.

    ...9/10 because of difficulty? Rename your site pussy radar then rate games down for bullshit like this...and maybe if you call it pussy radar you might just get a couple more visits, just saying
  • Darkhawk - December 26, 2012 6:17 p.m.

    Fuck you.
  • AlanDrake - October 11, 2009 3:54 p.m.

    this game was fun but extremely repetetive and EVERYWHERE you go you get shot at by some african with a trigger finger and purple haze in his lungs. Mikes bar is the sanctuary of this game. I cry out for the next one to be more varied but as big and free playing as this one.
  • AlanDrake - October 11, 2009 3:52 p.m.

    this game was fun but extremely repetetive and EVERYWHERE you go you get shot at by some african with a trigger finger and purple haze in his lungs. Mikes bar is the sanctuary of this game. I cry out for the next one to be more varied but as big and free playing as this one.
  • Gamemania - November 25, 2008 10:21 p.m.

    My friend keeps talking about it.
  • manicclownboy716 - November 19, 2008 3:41 p.m.

    I can't afford all the great titles coming out, so I am going through gamefly. Since everything else is booked up they sent me farcry 2 first. Which is good because this game wouldn't have been picked up till next year. This is a great game that will really eat the clock away on you. It has that " let me try that mission again, oh wait let me reload that and do it this way" feeeling to it. it is really exhilirating to be sniping a enemy camp and have you weapon explode from overuse, or when the wind changes and suddenly you own fire is bearing down on you. Even the best laid plans can fall apart, and then you must think on the fly. I really dug almost every aspect of this game, however wrecking your car in the middle of the jungle miles from anywhere means, your walking...again... ( Interesting side note I, accidentaly, hit an impala with my truck, hopped out and snapped a pic with my phone and totally fooled all my hunter friends.)
  • Yellowhat17 - November 4, 2008 9:50 p.m.

    I actually like the Xbox live play alot better than the actual campaign (go ahead and flame me) because of the bad ass course creator... campaign's still great though. I think Fallout 3 is better though.
  • GaMeZ4LiFe - October 28, 2008 1:27 a.m.

    This game looks amazing. I cant wait to buy this and get to it asap!
  • yaanyfizzle - October 24, 2008 2:06 p.m.

    loved the review,this game is clearly a smokers delight
  • BigManPigMan - October 24, 2008 2:09 a.m.

    Holy hell this games sounds so amazing! Finally no more "run and gun" or "spray and pray"! I gotta get this :D
  • PsychoPatrol - October 20, 2008 3:15 a.m.

    I heard it's everything and more. And those stab wounds are...psycho
  • Elbo444 - October 20, 2008 12:11 a.m.

    niggles = racist in two ways? or would that be niggels...?
  • TEbag_n_U-n00bs - October 19, 2008 3:02 p.m.

    they gave it a because they found 2 problems that a normal person wouldnt notice? they didnt even mention the multiplayer and the map editor
  • oreomonkey - October 19, 2008 2:14 p.m.

    Fable 2, Far Cry 2, Call of Duty World at war, Fallout 3. OMG THATS ONLY 240 dollars :O I guess ill only have to get 2 and wait for Christmas, uhhhhh.... Call of Duty and this. i can wait for the others...but i dont want to X]
  • ultimag17 - October 19, 2008 1:38 p.m.

    I totally agree with statuslegendary. Anyway, looks awsome, cant wait.
  • nazarene - October 19, 2008 2:54 a.m.

    Two words... LV BUILDER! Surprised it wasn't even mentioned... wonder if it was considered when scoring the game.
  • AzRedsk1n - October 19, 2008 12:54 a.m.

    I played the first one got frustrated and turned it off, im not excited about this game at all, im sorry to be the downer but i diddnt like the gameplay of the first one i thought it was very simple and slow, although the graphics do look epic unless they pull a 180 from the first one theres little chance this game ends up in my hands, FABLE 2!!!
  • GoldenMe - October 18, 2008 7:15 p.m.

    Dead Space, Gears 2, Far Cry 2, and so much more......my wallet might wanna try to sneak away tonight!
  • Lanceo9 - October 18, 2008 3:53 p.m.

    good. cant wait to play on my pc!
  • gavin1873 - October 18, 2008 12:06 p.m.

    this is the game i wanted far cry predator to be unfortunately it wasnt defineitly getting this

Showing 1-20 of 52 comments

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