FarCry 2 Review
Thankfully a far cry from the original.
by Sith Lord Jim:
©2008 Jim McIntyre:
I must admit I was skeptical when Ubisoft’s Clint Hocking told us that Farcry 2 would be the new benchmark for first person shooters. I stand corrected. This year has been full of stellar releases, but Farcry 2 eats them all for breakfast. I am not saying it is without its flaws, but its going to be one hell of a tough act to follow.
In Farcry 2 you play as a mercenary hired to kill an arms dealer, the Jackal, who has been dealing arms to both sides of a conflict in Africa. You arrive in the country and get malaria. So your character has to balance his illness with his search for the Jackal.
At the beginning you choose your character from a group of biographies and portraits, all the other characters go and populate the world as your buddies.
As you never really see your character, hear them, or learn more about them, you are actually better off picking the character, which interests you the least. I found this to be fairly disappointing as many of the characters appeared to have an interesting back-story to them.
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The core of the game is the missions, and being a merc you seem quite nonchalant about who hires you. There are missions from both factions as well as side missions, buddy missions, and missions from the gun shop to improve your weapons. Missions mostly follow the basic travel to location A kill/destroy/retrieve something/someone then return to location B formula. This surprisingly does not feel repetitive due to the ability to approach missions in different ways.
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The buddy system seems good in theory, but not quite as expected in practice. Run out of health and if a buddy is “rescue-ready” one will show up to revive you and put you somewhere that they deem “safe”. Then they sort of just stand there. Sure if someone comes up to them they will shoot them, but other than that they won’t do anything.
When you accept one of the missions from the factions your buddy will call you and offer a way to subvert the mission. There was a time I started subverting a mission and accidentally completed the faction’s objective as that and the buddy’s objective were in the same place. Fifteen minutes later I discovered when I paused the game to get a drink and saw that my best buddy’s picture was no longer there that my buddy was dead. No warning, no alert, no fuss. Just dead.
There are a few features of the game-play of Farcry 2 that really elevate the entire experience, the fire and gun jamming being the best examples of this. Both seem like small things when you read about them, but the first time you use a fire to complete an objective, or have a rifle explode in your face in the middle of a fire-fight you realize how much they really add to the game.
You will have read a lot about the fire if you have been following this game. It spreads realistically, is blown by the wind, and is graphically pretty. I myself assumed it would be more of a gimmick than anything. I never would have considered it as being important strategically during game play, but it really is. Its almost like an extra weapon, but one that can come back and bite you in the ass if you don’t look what way the winds blowing first.
Weapons that you pick up off enemies are un-reliable. How un-reliable they will be can be seen by how dirty and damaged the weapon appears visually. The game suggest that you don’t rely on these weapons, and a wise suggestion it is. They can jam, and also sometimes explode. This makes the ability to buy weapons much more valuable, as well as planning out your attack as you will want to do everything you can to avoid tossing away your weapon in exchange for a dead enemy’s weapon.
The map is massive. Driving from place to place often takes quite a long time, so its lucky that the driving is enjoyable. The cars all handle great, and its quite thrilling roaring down a hill dodging trees and rocks.
Unfortunately that also brings me to my largest complaint about the game. On your way to objectives you will run into patrols, and also have to pass through enemy outposts. There are many of these that are just un-avoidable.
This would not be that bad if the enemies didn’t respawn pretty much as soon as you leave the town. You never feel like your having much of an effect, when you shoot your way through a town reach the objective which is just outside of a town and then turn around and find the town inhabited by enemies once again.
I understand that it might get boring if there were never any enemies to fight, but surely there could be some sort of system in place where they don’t come back for at least a day of game time. When the distances are so massive, its frustrating to have to stop every couple of miles to wipe out a town that you know will just return in a few moments.
Graphically I found the game to be probably the best we have seen so far on the Xbox360 this year. The lighting is really done amazingly, and the different weathers and environments all look top-notch. The amount of detail is incredible in not just the graphics but also the audio. Dialog, gunfire, and ambiance all sounds realistic.
The other thing you would have heard about if you have been following this game is the map editor. The lack of a tutorial makes it a bit hard to get your head around at first, but once you get going its really easy to make a good map.
The requirements for the map to be published make sure that any map you download will be playable. It’s a rather robust map creation system, and thankfully its easy to join matches with custom maps, unlike Halo 3 where the only way you can join custom matches is through the dashboard.
The multiplayer itself also surprised me. There are several different classes each with their own weapon set. As you play you unlock diamonds, which you can use to purchase upgrades for that class. These upgrades unlock other weapons for that class to use. Game modes include deathmatch, team deathmatch, uprising, and capture the diamond. I didn’t suffer any lag even when playing with people who were not from Australia. All in all it was a very solid multiplayer experience, and one that I’m hoping will retain a community for some time to come.
If you are only buying one first person shooter for the rest of the year it should be this one. Detail is soaked into every element of the game, and its an experience that should not be missed, by any shooter fan. Flaws are small and inconsequential in the scheme of things, as there are just so many different approaches you can take to situations. This is the new benchmark for first person shooters.
Crazy Map Editor:
A Far Cry from anything else available on consoles and PC’s
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[EIC Note:] – After discussing this in length with Clint Hocking in the Sydney offices of Ubisoft the other week, I’d have to say this is probably THE most fascinating of all map editors out to-date. We will hopefully be running a Map Editor Contest with several environments and then a MP playoff on each winning environment. So stay tuned for more inof on that REAL soon. I saw a Eiffel Tower which was built out of Girders by one of the Ubisoft Montreal team, and it looked truly amazing. You can create anything. Halo 3 Forge is like lego blocks in comparison.
©2008 Jim McIntyre: