I recently purchased a copy of Far Cry 2 on Steam. Oddly enough, Far Cry 2 has nothing to do with the first Far Cry, save for the name. Crytek, the original game's developer, wasn't involved in the development of Far Cry 2, so I'm confused as to why this game is billed as the true sequel. Other than the standard first person shooter tropes, the two have very little (if anything) in common.
To me, Far Cry 2 resembles the Grand Theft Auto series more than any traditional first person shooter. The mission design feels similar, as do many of the game mechanics. But in the long run, how does the game fare? Here's my review.
- Sandbox Style Gameplay
- I'm a sucker for sandbox games, especially when it comes to the FPS genre. Being given the freedom to attack a problem in a number of ways opens the door for replayability, as well as adding a sense of realism to the game. Far Cry 2 provides that experience to a point, and I had fun exploiting it as much as I could.
- African Milieu
- To my knowledge, no other game has presented the player with a setting like this. Many of the locales feel authentic, and there are certain moments when you can seemingly feel the surroundings (sunrises and sunsets in this game are particularly well done). Kudos for whoever made the call to set the game in this part of the world. It's refreshing to see something new.
- Attempt at Realism
- I'll give credit to the game developers for trying to make the game a little more realistic than some similar titles. Weapons degrade over time (arguably too quickly). Vehicles need repair as they take damage. Your view is restricted while driving (i.e. you can't swivel your head around). And your character occasionally must perform first-aid on himself when he's taken too much damage.
- Grenade Launchers == Fun
- Of all the weapons in the game, my personal favorite has to be the grenade launcher. It feels tremendously powerful, especially when it's mounted on the back of an assault truck. Drive around with one of these things and you will own your surroundings. Just make sure not to aim too closely to where you are standing.
- Excellent Fire Mechanic
- Far Cry 2 is the first game I've ever seen that uses a fire propagation mechanic. Set fire to dry vegetation and it will spread in the direction the wind blows. This can be used in clever ways to hem in the enemy, though this tactic isn't exploited in the game as it should be. Some missions designed around this would have been fun.
- Repetitive Missions
- Mission design in Far Cry 2 is as bland as it gets. All of the arms dealer missions are the exact same setup (destroy a convoy somewhere on the map). All of the assassination missions are (you guessed it) assassinations of a person in various locations. And the main missions aren't much different. It's all either fetch an item, kill a person, or destroy some object.
- Simplistic Game Mechanics
- The mechanics of this game are very simple and feel like a console GTA clone. Usable objects flash slowly in the game, and there are only a few of those: ammunition, weapons, health kits, and save points (the latter of which seems redundant, seeing as you can save anywhere in the PC edition of the game). Driving vehicles is simple, but for some reason enemies can drive faster than you possibly can. A lot of the game feels dumbed down which is a shame.
- Drab Color Palette
- The color palette used in this game could hardly be more boring. Each locale is either brown or green; if you've seen one location, you've seen them all. The HDR lighting doesn't help in this regard. Outdoor scenes feel flat due to the bright sunlight, and indoor scenes are dark and dank due to the lack of sunlight.
- Nonexistent Stealth Mechanic
- There are a few weapons in the game with silencers, and the player can also purchase a camouflaged "stealth suit." But none of these features seem to make your character more stealthy. Enemies always seem to know where you are and it's hard to 'lose' them once they've detected you. This removes an aspect of Far Cry and Crysis that I loved the most: being able to hide from your attackers, regroup, and attack again from a new location. An honest-to-God stealth element would have made this game so much more fun.
- Bland Weapon and Vehicle Design
- For the most part, the weapons and vehicles in Far Cry 2 all feel the same. Sure the weapons may sound a little different, but they rarely have a noticeable difference in handling. For example, every machine gun seems to do the same amount of damage as the others. With the amount of choice given to the player from a weapons standpoint (there are bunch of weapons to unlock), you'd think the developers would have made them feel different. To make matters worse, a few weapons are even nearly impossible to use. The mortar is a prime example of this; there's no clear way to aim the shells, so the weapon is quickly rendered useless.
- Your player contracts Malaria at the beginning of the game, and keeps it until the end. The sickness is manifested by random "hallucination" sequences, making it hard to do anything until you pop a few pills to stave off the attack. Getting sick in a game like this is an interesting idea, but this implementation is poorly done.
- Weak Story, Ending, and Voice Acting
- Weak stories are commonplace among FPS's, so it should come as no surprise that the Far Cry 2 story is very weak. The ending of the game is equally as bad, and a real let down after spending many hours in the game world. Voice acting was atrocious across the board (one of the worst efforts I've ever heard). I would have rather read the dialog than hear actors read it to me in monotone.
This game had a lot going for it, but in the end I was mostly let down. Thankfully, I only paid $20 for it.