Far Cry 2: First Impressions

By Jim Rossignol on October 23rd, 2008 at 5:35 pm.


So I’m a few hours into Far Cry 2 and I’m going to just quickly report my impressions of it so far. Firstly, it pains me to have to quit out of the game to blog about it, which is a good sign, but also a bad sign. The bad being: it locks up if I alt-tab. That said, I have ignored the game’s pleas to update both Vista and my Nvidia drivers, so I’m probably partly to blame for technical difficulties. That said, even with my updating laziness, the game runs fantastically on my 8800 with everything maxed. Not quite comparable with Crysis, perhaps, but that really doesn’t matter: it pulls of the dense, jungled African valleys impeccably. The action is smooth, and the world detailed.

The one thing that no one seems to have taken much time to mention yet is the general ambience of the game setting. If feels very low-key, gritty even, when compared to just about any other shooter I can think of. It’s real-world, and kind of ugly and organic. There’s a kind of continuous tension in the game world, and not least because you yourself are fighting illness, and being hunted by both factions in this wartorn realm. It’s really selling the idea that this is a seething, hatred-filled place of violence, de-sensitized by war and greed. The rolling, rumbling soundtrack bolsters that. It definitely lacks the charm of Stalker, or even Boiling Point, and I’m unconvinced by the African setting as a whole, but it works.

There’s a lot that you can say that about in this game: it’s not exactly genius, but it really works. The game is boldly functional: the ultra-minimal GUI and general world interactions definitely demonstrate that. Nothing seems over-complicated, but there’s enough on offer for this to be a shooter that has some depth.

Being hunted by both factions seems to be freaking out a large number of people: as if they didn’t expect to shoot and be shot at by large numbers of people in this, a first-person shooter? Odd. Anyway, the areas in which you *aren’t* involved in a sprawling, endless firefight, are superb, with surly, suspicious faces everywhere, and believable understated characters lurking about, or offering you mercenary fare. The towns are essential abandoned: just home to militias and criminals now. I found that something of a shame – having more human life to the world would have been great.

The missions seem to be all combat, but that’s fine by me: the first instance of ramming a Jeep convoy off the road at a junction, leaping out and gunning down every member of the party couldn’t have been more thrilling. Watching the target blip on the map and timing my race across the dirt-tracks to collide with him so precisely was fantastic. My subsequent “death” at the hands of pursuing militia was less elegant, but it at least showed me the superb death-is-not-death mechanic. Once down, and unconscious, You’re pulled back from the brink by a buddy, and stumble back into consciousness in the midst of the firefight. It’s dramatic, perhaps a little silly, but superbly done. It’s like a game both being honest about what quicksave means for videogame metaphysics, and still plastering over the cracks with its fiction.

Finally: I can entirely understand people’s concerns about the enemy AI. It’s as if they are deaf, slightly dizzy, and at the same time absolutely blood-crazed. They’re probably the weakest link the game, but if I can put up with Stalker, then this is fine too. They aren’t exactly convincing adversaries, but right now I don’t care. The combat is brutal enough – with people going dying just easily enough – for me to keep on going.

Right now this is a game that is more intriguing than amazing. I want to see where it goes, and whether it can deliver any more impressive ideas. So far, so good.

If you’ve not started playing yet, I’d recommend turning off the subtitles. They felt intrusive to me, at least.

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274 Comments »

  1. Chris R says:

    Here’s my thought’s (posted last night in the forum after playing 4 hours straight, which felt like 1 hour to me).

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forum/pc/the-far-cry-2-thread/page-2/

    Also, about the enemies respawning at checkpoints… just barrel on through with your jeep. You’re not required to get out and kill everything that shoots at you. Once I’ve already cleared out a checkpoint (and gotten the x/35 checkpoints cleared message), the next time I go rolling through I just ignore the guys there. They’ll usually hop in their jeeps and come after me, but I’m usually so far down the road they they can’t catch up. You can usually run over 1 or 2 guys as you go blowing past too, haha. Very satisfying.

  2. LionsPhil says:

    Meat Circus: And yet, the response by publishers to piracy so far continues to be greater and greater restrictions, combined with increasing bitching that PC gaming is dying and all the money is on consoles these days. So unless you think they’re going to suddenly suffer some kind of integer overflow phonemenon and decide to go all Stardock, how exactly does it help?

  3. dhex says:

    re: floaty. i disagree. crysis was cranked to crankitude and was not floaty. console-cross dev’d fps games have a weirdly floaty feel that seems to be related to FOV.

    with or without AA, with or without physics and trees cranked, it’s a bit laggy. bioshock was the same way. it’s a thing, i guess. someone more technically-minded can explain why it’s a thing.

    ps. i sent a copy of my email from securom to ubisoft support as well, so if you hear about a g gordon liddy style showdown (“headshots headshots”) in new york, that’s probably me. remember me as i was!

  4. teo says:

    Try turning off V-Synch if it’s floaty

  5. dhex says:

    but then it’s floaty AND tear-y! which leaves me teary! and dreary!

  6. Meat Circus says:

    @LionsPhil:

    I very much doubt there’s anything we can do to make them stop being stupid. They’re not going to listen to us, we’re only their customers.

    If we want to punish them for their stupidity (and I do), we have to hit them where it hurts: their bottom line.

  7. Pags says:

    No-one likes a hard kick in the bottom… line. And I’ll pour some out for you when you’re inevitably consumed by the Ubi-Beast, dhex.

  8. RichPowers says:

    Boycotts are very effective, yes.

    The other day I realized how the industry actually encourages me not to spend money on new releases. By waiting a year or two, I can buy the game for significantly less money and have a more complete package (patches, mods, expansions, forum posts detailing solutions to technical problems). And the DRM might be gone as well.

  9. Alex says:

    Tomorrow I face the ultimate decision: play this, or Fable 2? I suspect I will try to play both at once, using a Heath-Robinson contraption to manipulate the mouse and keyboard while holding a 360 controller.

  10. teo says:

    No, v-synch make shit floaty

  11. Meat Circus says:

    @Alex:

    Tomorrow I shall be playing Fable II and not this, if it helps.

    I’m looking forward to see how much Molyneuxgash about the bloody dog is true.

    The absence of death in the game should make John Walker very happyjohn.

  12. macc says:

    I’m also not a fan of DRM, but FC2′s DRM is causing absolutely no problem on my PC. So don’t let it be areason not to buy it.

    @Maximum Fish: This music is absolutely not ripped from Black Hawk Down, of course its similar because it’s both in Africa, but FC2′s music is excellent.

  13. Hobbes says:

    Why can’t games come with D:REAM instead, eh? Then we could all party like its 1997 and nobody would have to get all worked up about anything.

  14. LionsPhil says:

    RichPowers: And you can probably play it on maximum settings without having to spend the GDP of a small country on hardware.

    Most importantly of all, though, you get the sage advice of John Walker’s budget review.

  15. dhex says:

    No, v-synch make shit floaty

    then why isn’t crysis or warhead floaty?

    i don’t know what floaty is, but i know it when i see it. and it takes a bit of a time to see it because it’s so damn floaty!

  16. Kadayi says:

    Can we not ban him already? It’s one thing to complain about DRM ad infinitum at every opportunity, but it’s another to outright advocate piracy as a legitimate course of action. Plain truth of the matter is Developers have very little to do with how the publisher chooses to distribute their products when it comes to DRM, but ultimately by pirating games you do more harm to the developers than the Publishers. Honestly love good games? Then buy them and encourage the developers who spent years working on them, to make even better ones.

    Also Farcry 2 is a story based FPS, realistically how many times are you likely to need to reinstall it? Do you think you;’re even likely to hit the 5 limit by the time the publishers probably deactivate the limitations element? Deus Ex is probably one of my favourite FPS games, but at most I’ve probably played it fresh about 3 – 4 times since it’s release 8 years ago. Most other gamers I know don’t even replay games, because quite frankly their onto the next thing. Seriously the whole DRM ranting is more a case of imagined grievance than actual for 99.9% of gamers.

  17. Meat Circus says:

    @Kadayi:

    You’re right, it is another thing to advocate piracy as a legitimate course of action. It’s not something I do lightly either.

    You seem to be taking a rather dismissive attitude here. How *dare* I and many, many other gamers make a principled opposition to DRM?

    Who do I think I am railing against something I can see is pernicious and destroying the PC Gaming I love?

    And really, calling for me to be banned strikes me as just childish.

  18. Alec Meer says:

    Do the round and round and round and round DRM discussion if you must, but abusive comments aren’t acceptable here.

  19. Downloads_Plz says:

    Just as a side note to the DRM talk…

    http://www.amazon.com/Far-Cry-2-Pc/dp/B000X9FV5M

    It’s being voted down ala Spore as a result of it’s DRM. So is Crysis: Warhead, Dead Space, and I would assume a mess of other games as well.

    Maybe things like this will finally get the attention of big developers. Maybe not. But at least it’s worth a shot.

  20. Meat Circus says:

    Sorry, Alec.

    I know I get a little excited from time to time. These sorts of imaginary property issues have always been a red flag to me.

    I’ll leave it now. I promise.

  21. Downloads_Plz says:

    …Damn lack of an Edit box…

    And as an ending to my original post before I accidently clicked to submit it, not only is voting DRM games down worth a shot and probably our best way to get through to a developer, but it’s also a hell of a lot more effective than us all bitching about it here constantly.

  22. Feet says:

    ANYWAY.

    Far Cry 2. It’s a game and I played it for 30 minutes and it seems like it has promise. What do you think about FAR CRY 2 THE GAME fellow RPS readers?

  23. YogSo says:

    Do you think you’re even likely to hit the 5 limit by the time the publishers probably deactivate the limitations element?

    That is the key word in your argument. Probably? What does it mean? What kind of assurance is that? Do you really believe that, when the time cames, they will bother to un-DRM “an ancient (=4-5 years old, in publishers’ minds) game probably (there it is again) nobody is playing anymore”? Do you REALLY believe that?

    At the end of the day, if I’m buying a product that has an in-built expiring date (that is, if I’m merely RENTING it), then it should cost considerably less than if I’m buying it for real and, more importantly, it shoud be advertised as such.

  24. Nimic says:

    I prefer to buy my games digitally, so I googled it, and found that Ubisoft actually have their own digital purchase. Then I read this:

    “This product is only available for purchase in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.”

    I wonder if that is permanent, or if it’s because the game isn’t technically released here yet (I think)?

  25. Sam C. says:

    In a game related note, has anyone played with the level editor yet? And does it allow you to make single player levels? Or is it limited to just multiplayer levels?

  26. YogSo says:

    Ehmmm, sorry to re-ignite the DRM-argument again, I’m very slow writing…

  27. Meat Circus says:

    @Nimic:

    No, Ubi refuse to release their games on Steam in the EU. More than that, they won’t even say why.

    They probably don’t want any of our funny foreign monies, isn’t it.

  28. dhex says:

    well, i too hated the subtitles. the voice acting isn’t terrible, but there is one thing i must question.

    why is the baddest of baddies a fucking 10th grade high school cliche? quoting nietzche? really? where was the bauhaus mixtape?

    if they wanted a freaky will to power type, julius evola would have been a far better choice. aristocrats of the soul and all that.

  29. Nimic says:

    @ Meat Circus:

    Yeah, I know, they hate Europe. Which is decidedly odd, since I seem to remember an article where they stated that Europe was now their biggest market.

    This wasn’t Steam, though. This was on their official site. If there’s anything preventing them from releasing it on Steam in Europe, is the same preventing them from releasing it in Europe on their own digital service? I’m going to try again tomorrow, but if I can’t get it digitally I might not get it at all.

  30. G says:

    Instead of moaning about the DRM here why not write to the company? None of us here can actually do anything about it! The debate has been repeated here endlessly, a simple comment to say that you won’t be buying it because of the DRM gets the message across, then you can leave the discussion to those who actually wish to talk about the game.

    My copy arrived this morning and I quite like it so far. Saying that I haven’t got very far at all. Oh well, back to it.

  31. N says:

    Right, I’m playing the bastard at full-everything with my 260 gtx ocx (and 8 gigs of mushkin redline hehehe) and yes, the controls are a bit “floaty”, although it’s nothing significant.

    I really do miss a lean option though; the graphics are clearly below warhead quality… albeit the vehicles handle way better…

  32. And_CR says:

    Hopefully someone that has played the game will answer my non-DRM related question. How about the exploration aspect? Does it has far off cool locations? Can you wander around and find interesting places (even if you have to kill half of the game’s NPCs to get there)?
    I remember an article here at RPS about exploration in games and this is really what would make me buy FarCry 2. If it is more of a shooter, ala Crysis, I think I’m gonna wait for bargain bin price.

  33. Schyz says:

    It’s just a first person Assassin’s Creed. Another piece of crap brought to you by Ubisoft. Please, Ubi, fire your scriptwriter.

  34. Meat Circus says:

    @G:

    To be fair, nobody is or was stopping you from talking about the game. You have the floor.

  35. Meat Circus says:

    @Schyz:

    Oi! Ubisoft Montreal gave us Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. They can be forgiven a lot. Even Assassin’s Creed.

  36. Maximum Fish says:

    @macc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey3qb1Ew7O0
    Listen at 2:27. Segments of the ‘just walking around’ music are extremely similar to this. Not that Hans Zimmer needs to phone his lawyers or anything, but i think it’s pretty obvious this is the inspiration. Especially given they used Rachid Taha’s ‘Barra Barra’ in one of their trailers. I could be wrong though…

  37. Jonas says:

    I really want to play Far Cry 2, but sadly about every 5 minutes, it crashes to desktop without any kind of error message or anything else indicating what the hell is going on. This makes me sad.

    Thankfully Fable 2 arrives tomorrow, and being an X-Box 360 game, I’m unlikely to experience any technical issues with that, so it should keep me occupied until Ubisoft’s tech support gets back to me (doubtlessly either telling me to reinstall Windows XP – not gonna happen – or wait for the patch).

  38. Ghiest says:

    I found the game very tedious to be honest.

    Get a car … kill someone, to unlock weapons, get a car … kills another couple cars. I spent 5 hours wandering around killing people for little story or benefit, the amount of tedious driving is just plain annoying. If the driving part of the simulation/sandbox was better (like gta is so compared to) then it might be better.

    It just felt very, forced.

  39. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I also won’t be buying this game because of DRM. Just like I didn’t buy Bioshock because of DRM. Just like I won’t be buying Mirror’s Edge if it turns out to have bad DRM. And I want to play Bioshock. I want to play Far Cry 2. And I want to play Mirror’s Edge. But I won’t pay for invasive DRM. And so my money is going elsewhere. Although some of it is going to Good Old Games now.

  40. Alonzo Harris says:

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but what happens if all your buddies die – can they die?

  41. macc says:

    Yes, they can die. You can play without them, but then they are unable to help you or give you extra missions. I think its more fun with them.

  42. Maximum Fish says:

    @Alonzo Harris

    I believe they can. I haven’t had any die yet (only met two so far) but i think one of the reviews mentioned that you can choose to heal them should they get shot in combat, or just give ‘em the Old Yeller and save on Syrettes. Presumably they are not plot critical then, but who knows…

  43. Ian says:

    Enjoying this after two hours of play. I’m beginning to appreciate the real possibilities involved with setting grassland alight. The diamond treasure hunt isn’t bugging me as much as I thought it would, though that could be because I’m looking forward to filling out that arsenal.

    Really enjoyed the opening sequence of events. No more to be said thus far, but I’m very much enjoying this one. :)

  44. James says:

    It’s just a first person Assassin’s Creed. Another piece of crap brought to you by Ubisoft. Please, Ubi, fire your scriptwriter.

    I want to fire you. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.

    Assassin’s Creed was fellatio for the eyes and ears.

  45. Scott PM says:

    I played for a few hours last night, and I’m overall very happy with it. I really like the ‘embodied’ feeling of the whole thing, seeing your hands when you open doors, pulling shrapnel out of your ankle, etc.

    What will put this game over the top for me is the variety of missions. I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed too, but I’m hoping FC2 doesn’t have the same “repeat these same five missions over and over” problem later in the game.

    And yes, you can kill your buddies, which I discovered when I mistook the girl-buddy for an enemy and ran her down with my jeep. Oops! Thanks gawd for quicksave.

  46. Chis says:

    Having tried this for a while on a friend’s 360, I’m left feeling… empty. As an FPS, it is fairly solid. But as a gaming experience, it is somehow lacking. Boiling Point had an endearing quirkiness (and an inventory), and Stalker was superlative due to a thoroughly compelling atmosphere and a genuine sense that – for a change, in this industry – there was a lot of talent and inspiration behind it. And it had an inventory.

    Farcry 2 seems somewhat simplistic by comparison. I don’t feel much sense of tension trying to sneak around enemies, and the combat is rather lacking compared to Stalker. Perhaps I’m used to being precise and considering my movements, instead of wanting to play a blast-fest. You can actually do both in FC2, but neither are particularly satisfying.

    And there’s no inventory. I feel like I’m playing to shoot stuff and that’s it, not “progress”, build a character, and “live in the game”.

    ‘Tis very pretty though.

  47. Deadpan says:

    @ Scott

    Yeah. I managed to splash damage my girl buddy while mowing down a chokepoint. I didn’t know where she was until I heard her screaming. I was out of lancets and never had to help one of them, so I ended up mercy killing her instead.

    Yep. Quicksave.

  48. Subject 706 says:

    Jesus, if this wasn’t the biggest disappointment of 2008. Missions extremely samey. You cant lean. You can’t go prone. Interactivity with the world is almost zero, no inventory. Feels like a sub-par shooter with tedious traveling and repetitiveness. Free exploring is pointless, since everything is the same.

    Thankfully Kings Bounty should plonk down next week.

  49. Eschatos says:

    I rather like it. It runs much better than Mercenaries 2 on my PC.

  50. MisterBritish says:

    Thumbs up.

    That is all.

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