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Far Cry 2 (Xbox 360) artwork

Far Cry 2 (Xbox 360) review


"Individually, each area is exquisite. The sprawling roadways are extremely well designed, as are the waterways that run through certain portions of the jungle. The mountainous locations are also impressive, forcing you to ditch whatever vehicle you’re using (such as a car, jeep or boat) to climb to the top. Sometimes you’ll be forced to leave a vehicle behind because of a gunfight gone sour or because you rammed it into a tree one too many times. Vehicles can get stuck in pitfalls and other natural hazards, a problem you’ll also encounter when traveling by boat."



While writing this review, one thought kept pouring through: how can the intro convey the joy, amazement and on-the-edge-of-your-seat excitement that Far Cry 2 creates? What could a review possibly reveal to show the player what it’s like to be walking through a jungle, barely armed and badly wounded, with militia guarding every place of shelter? How could these introductory words describe what it feels like when, after losing a car chase, you survive by trapping the enemy vehicle behind your stalled car, which is then blown 20 feet into the air – along with its adversarial passengers – via one well-aimed rocket?

The truth of the matter is that no words can do justice to Far Cry 2, one of the best – potentially the best – first-person shooters of the year. This game gives new meaning to the word ‘massive.’ But enormity can’t carry a game alone. You need depth, and that too is where Far Cry 2 is able to astonish and inspire. It is physically impossible to quickly travel from one side of the jungle to the next. Like any jungle, there are shortcuts and a multitude of pathways that can be taken.

Individually, each area is exquisite. The sprawling roadways are extremely well designed, as are the waterways that run through certain portions of the jungle. The mountainous locations are also impressive, forcing you to ditch whatever vehicle you’re using (such as a car, jeep or boat) to climb to the top. Sometimes you’ll be forced to leave a vehicle behind because of a gunfight gone sour or because you rammed it into a tree one too many times. Vehicles can get stuck in pitfalls and other natural hazards, a problem you’ll also encounter when traveling by boat.

These elements are presented very realistically, which goes a long way in producing that living, breathing world effect the game industry is trying desperately to achieve. But vehicles and a deep environment are not enough. We have the former with Grand Theft Auto IV; the latter may be fresh to vehicular combat, but it can only take a game so far.

That’s where the bullies – AKA local militia – come in. You’ve fought enemies before but you’ve never been in a battle quite like this. For starters, the first-person combat is expertly developed. Second, the shooter mechanics are excellent. Not flawless but very well produced. Third, there are few things as exciting as cruising through this jungle at 90mph. The vehicle controls are smooth, seamless, and offer the best in-the-car view since GTAIV.

Fourth, the explosions never fail to impress. They are unbelievable, featuring all the orange, white and yellow hues you’d expect to see in a real explosion. (As real as Hollywood has taught us, at least.) Environments are not entirely destructible but you can still create excessive damage and kill several enemies with multiple types of explosive weaponry: grenade launchers, rocket launchers, Molotov cocktails, etc. The aftermath could be twice as deadly if the fire begins to spread, which is very likely. You can’t burn down a whole town (we’re not quite there yet, it would seem, even on a console as powerful as Xbox 360), but you will see fire spread almost as impressively as it did in Alone in the Dark.

Fifth, when taken in as a complete experience, Far Cry 2 is wonderfully overwhelming. You cannot complete a mission without running into militia. They guard every town, protect most of the bridges and patrol each road frequently. Though you may not think so when being chased, the latter is quite helpful. Given how vulnerable these vehicles are (and how easy it is to steal or leave one behind at any time), patrolling militia may actually help you acquire a new ride. How, you wonder? Simple: get the driver’s attention (one gunshot will do) and bate him into the jungle. Make sure you have a barrier (such as a tree) that can be used to protect yourself when the vehicle comes plowing through. Step back, wait for the enemy to get out (they usually will), and blast ‘em away. Just don’t use any explosives at this time, which could hit the vehicle you’re hoping to steal and ruin your day.

Assuming all goes well, you’ll be well on your way to defeating the evil arms dealer that makes up the story of the game. It isn’t a spellbinding tale by any means: you control an unsavory mercenary type (one of several actually) whose mission is to take out the leading arms dealer, who just happens to be responsible for all the militia activity you see in the game. He supplied everyone with illegal weaponry. As if that weren’t enough, the weapons are cheap and jam frequently. That’s not something a deadly psychopath wants to happen in the middle of a battle.

Now you must use that same weaponry – as well as custom-built and upgraded guns that won’t jam – to take down the arms dealer. You’ll engage in dozens of other battles along the way, many of which are obtained in the form of job-based missions. Diamonds are the only currency worth anything, so you’ll be paid well for your time as a hired assassin (among other things). And while cruising around to complete each mission, the militia threat continues.

To top it off, Far Cry 2 delivers compelling thrills via online multiplayer. The user-friendly, Tony Hawk-style map editor lets players build their own stages using dozens of pre-made objects and environment settings. Deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the diamond round out the usual lineup while the Uprising mode is a little different. Two teams go head-to-head for control of specific areas of the map. Only the team captain can take control of an area, which must be occupied for about 20 seconds before leaving. Capture all areas and destroy the opposing team’s captain to win the match.

In many ways, Far Cry 2 is the perfect open-ended first-person shooter. There are, however, a few areas where the game fell short. Most notably, the crosshair movement doesn’t feel quite right. As previously mentioned, the controls are excellent. But there were a few times when it wasn’t possible to turn around fast enough to kill the enemy shooting me in the back. Adjusting the controller sensitivity helped but the aim still felt a little stiff.

By having an open-ended world, Far Cry 2 opened itself to the same kinds of problems that plague the Grand Theft Auto series. Though you will love how immense the world feels, there are times when its endless scope is too much. Missions are rarely close together, and if you don’t have a vehicle handy – or continually lose your rides in combat – the travel time may become tedious, slightly diminishing the non-stop thrill factor this game is so good at delivering.

Obviously no game is perfect, but there aren’t many that are worthy of standing next to Far Cry 2. Ubisoft has designed a masterpiece that will immerse and enthrall any player who picks up the controller, all the while turning him or her into a sleepless addict.

Rating: 9/10

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Freelance review by Louis Bedigian (November 19, 2008)

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Masters posted November 19, 2008:

Hello, I've opened this topic for zipp, despite his disdain for my Silent Hill 4 review.
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Lewis posted November 20, 2008:

Really glad to see FC2 getting some more great press. I've not played it yet, but a lot of the less positive review seem to be focusing on areas I'm not particularly fussed about. The scope for experimentation and the immense replay value are what stood out about FC2's feature list for me - great to see another opinion that seems to value this.

"one of the best – potentially the best – first-person shooters of the year."

I'm going to fight you over this with Left 4 Dead. Even though you probably haven't played it and I haven't played FC2 ;)
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zippdementia posted November 20, 2008:

I thought Far Cry 2 was immensely boring. The environment was cool, but there was nothing in that environment to really make it come alive. Now, if crawling through swamps had left you with leeches, or if swimming through a river chanced an encounter with a crocodile, or if lions and cheetahs prowled the brush, then I would've felt immersed. For a game that was so much about putting the player in a realistic and living setting, they sure have a dead environment.

And the combat? I played on hard, and I won pretty much every fight by standing in one spot and shooting the idiotic computer as it came running into the open.

Regardless, I'm always open to different opinions (it would be a boring world otherwise) but your review seems very focused on surface level considerations, such as graphics and travel, and not so much on what Far Cry 2 actually is: a first person shooter. I would've liked to hear more on your opinion of Far Cry 2's unique combat system, as well as your opinion on the AI (which I thought was nothing less than terrible).

You've claimed it as the best first person shooter of the year, I would like to see that backed up.
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Masters posted November 20, 2008:

Is saying thanks difficult for you?

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