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. Jim Rossignol says:

    @Chis

    Yeah, I’m getting that “if only there were more RPG elements” feeling. I kind of hate myself for that, as I think it about everything these days.

  2. Jolstar says:

    Last night I was sent on an assassination mission in the cease fire zone. I found my target and waited in a corner for the lone soldier to leave me to my work. Instead he wanders over to me, pinning me into this corner I was standing, unzips his fly and proceeds to piss all over me.

    Needless to say I slaughtered everyone who witnessed this.

  3. Chis says:

    @Jim

    I wouldn’t want too much more. Reasons to hunt around the map to find more than just “treasure”. As it is, it seems the only impetus to scout the four corners of the map is to find more diamonds and ammo.

    Inventories inspire the hunting hoarders in us, I suppose.

  4. Klaus says:

    Cool, according to system requirements lab I can play this, a bit above recommended, so that’s fine. I, now may in fact get this.

    lol, according to the same site I can barely play Mercenaries 2.

  5. Trousers says:

    To JR

    You say it runs great on your 8800 on max settings…curious as to what kinda processor you’re running. Are you playing with AA on as well?

    I’ve got 2 8800gt’s and a q6600, and I get a decent bit of slowdown with everything maxed. I’m guessing this is just me paying the price for lower MHz per core (again!)?

  6. UncleLou says:

    Not too happy with the game so far – it has its moments, but they’re few and far between.

    I am also surprised how low-budget the game feels. It’s all a bit clunky, the graphics engine is far from convincing (and downright appaling at night), the enemy behaviour, especially in vehicles, is idiotic, the side mission structure is far too formulaic, etc. It reminds me a lot of Boiling Point, and not just because of how the game is structured.

    I also thought – but that’s admittedly my own “mistake” – that the landscape would be a bit wilder, and more open to exploration. As it is, it’s more like a safari park with a carefully cultivated landscape with mercenarys than Africa.

    Stalker felt infinitely more organic and natural to me.

  7. Chris Livingston says:

    Interesting that you couldn’t alt-tab out — alt-tabbing worked great for me the few times I did it. No idea why — most games I do it with severely screw things up, but this one works fine and pops back in quickly.

  8. Nick says:

    I’m not so sure having your eyes sucked till stuff comes out is a good thing, James.

  9. Thiefsie says:

    Jolstar. “Last night I was sent on an assassination mission in the cease fire zone. I found my target and waited in a corner for the lone soldier to leave me to my work. Instead he wanders over to me, pinning me into this corner I was standing, unzips his fly and proceeds to piss all over me.

    Needless to say I slaughtered everyone who witnessed this.”

    that had my coworkers looking at me funnily when I just about fell off my chair giggling

  10. Flappybat says:

    Men in jeeps are the new cliffracers.

    Why’s it so damn hard to do stealth kills? Take someone down who hasn’t noticed you with a machete and everyone is on your ass.

    Not helped by the fact the bastards can see through vegitation as well as being able to instantly spot you with any part of their body leading to the classic “trying to shoot you through a wall” behaviour.

  11. Kadayi says:

    @ Meat Circus

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

    Because you’re making a mountain out of a molehill. There’s a lot of provocative posturing going on, but quite frankly you haven’t addressed the issue of how likely the DRM is really going to impact upon the average gamers enjoyment, long term. In fact you seem to have deliberately skipped the questions I put to you on the matter.

    Given it’s clear that despite hysterical opposition, increasingly main stream publishers aren’t going to be moving away from it any time soon, so hijacking every RPS thread to endlessly beat the drum about DRM at every given opportunity is little more than trolling tbh. So yes I am calling for the RPS guys to ban you from the site, because presently I’m not seeing anything constructive coming out of your presence here.

    As for advocating piracy, lightly? No what you advocate is not buying the game in the first place. If your asking Publishers to remove DRM, you need to demonstrate that they made a loss. If you’re simply going to pirate the games anyway as act of some form of petulant act of ‘protest’ you’re not exactly proving anything to them. Act like an adult and boycott all their products and detail every game you would have bought but didn’t because of DRM from them, and you might garner their attention, esp on mass.

    As for Farcry 2, extremely nice looking, and the character models look a lot better in game than in the screen shots, however the lip synching leaves much to be desired and is quite distracting during mission briefings. Otherwise so far it’s all good, though not quite as much of a rival to Stalker as I’d envisaged from the reviews. Combat seems a bit floaty (for want of a better word), but as it’s early days I’m assuming (hoping) that’s principally down to the low grade weapons.

  12. Hoernchen says:

    Afte a few hours fc2 is just… meh. The arms dealer missons are all the same, just like the cell phone tower missions, and you are constantly rushing through the annoying road blocks, because killing anyone except the mission target is just pointless. Definitely a slightly ass-creedish feeling there…

  13. Jim Rossignol says:

    Whatever the failings of this game, the parallels people are drawing with Assassin’s Creed are bizarre. It’s *nothing* like it. I can’t even say it’s similar on the pretty-but-empty front, because this isn’t that pretty, and has a lot more going on.

  14. Dominic White says:

    I’m pretty amazed at peoples reactions. It’s rather strange, seeing a game get almost universal praise from critics – even the grumpy and hard-to-please ones – and then for the Average Internet Dude to absolutely hate it.

    I really like it so far, but I’m only about three hours in. Really good gunfights – not sure what people are talking about when they say ‘floaty’. It’s not quite as instant-fast-twitch-action say, say, FEAR, but it’s not far off.

  15. Noc says:

    Pffft. Look at the facts!

    1) Both games are made by Ubisoft.
    2) We don’t like either of them.

    Clearly they’re identical in all the ways that matter.

  16. Gorgeras says:

    I’m not a fan of protests or petitions in general; they’re basically a way of saying “look at how many people we have agreeing with us, what are you going to do about it?”.

    I prefer devastating criticism based on reason and evidence. With DRM this gives me mixed feelings because I absolutely loath pirates, yet they are the ones providing the most powerful evidence against DRM.

    The thought of someone playing a game for free, which I paid for, enrages me by itself. But the thought of someone playing a game for free after breaking the DRM has me smiling. But it shouldn’t. The addition of DRM into the equation completely makes my perspective switch polarity.

    I didn’t even buy Half-Life 2 for nearly three years until changes were made to Steam and Valve made an extraordinary offer through The Orange Box. I didn’t get Bioshock until a patch removed the activation limit. My plans to buy Far Cry 2 have been cancelled until I can be sure I am not merely going to be renting the game and DRM will 99.9% not mess up my computer.

    It isn’t enough to write about this or to have a discussion about it, especially when publishers themselves refuse to take part and instead just have identikit press releases parroting the same factually-suspect assertions with no regard to the challenges made against them.

    Wouldn’t it be great if magazines refused to review any games with DRM? I mean it’s all very nice trying to get people to boycott the games as consumers, but what good is it when consumer services don’t back us up? Consumers can only do so much by themselves. No matter how massive a response is, lizards like the EA CEO can claim it was a molehill response from a vocal minority and everyone will believe him. A consumer can start a blog or messageboard and they do, to debunk the nonsense publishers put out to justify not just DRM but piss poor service and after-sales patching. But it can so easily be made to look like an angry nerd raging against the system; stereotypes are too effective.

    I guess this is what is meant by the slightly unfair claim that journalists don’t take DRM seriously. Would a magazine print or refuse to print something that could damage their relationship with a game publisher? Are they scared of turning into the Daily Express; running multiple rhetorical campaigns on issues? Or do they have the BBC tendency to ‘show both sides’ no matter how utterly ridiculous one side is?

    We must have more. MOAR!

  17. manintheshack says:

    I’m finding these comments very interesting. Either the critics are wrong, the common gamers are wrong or both groups are entirely out of their trees. I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel when I get my hands on a copy tomorrow.

    If this is another game I’m looking forward to and my hopes are dashed I’ll be sorely upset. However, if that is the case, this kind of karmic effect may mean the Fallout 3 is worth playing . Huzzah!

  18. futage says:

    @Chris

    I keep thinking “Boiling Point did this better” while playing Far Cry 2. Which is slightly odd because I’d find it hard to say I enjoyed Boiling Point. But it just had so much more depth and so much more going on – a (small) city, even. And, as you say, stuff to go and find.

    Also agree with your Stalker comparison. Both Stalkers are definitely more accomplished (and better) games than Far Cry 2. And I do find myself wishing for a tiny bit more RPGness.

    It’s more like a delinearised linear shooter (i.e. it has the simplicity of a straightforward FPS but the levels are scattered around for you to do as you like) rather than an action-RPG.

    Having said that, taking it for what it is, it is fun. It definitely has that consoley feel with the simplicity and the floaty mouse, but for a change it works ok on PC. It has an immediacy and explosiveness. you’re not ‘forced’ to loot every single corpse just in case they have something of value and then lug it all back to some trader. You just shoot them and leave, it’s refreshing.

    So yeah, in short, it’s not what I expected (a polished Boiling Point), but it’s a lot of fun anyway.

  19. futage says:

    *@Chis

    Goddamn.

  20. Muzman says:

    Hopefully this is like Deus Ex in that it doesn’t actually own the world in moment to moment play, but once you start to see the way things play out differently and the game react to you all is forgiven.

  21. Rook says:

    >Jim
    People are saying it’s like assassin’s creed because assassin’s creed had basically 4 sub-mission types (I forget what they all were but it was something like Save a poor beggar, Assassinate, Eaves Drop and Interrogate) which you just did over and over again. Far Cry 2 also has 4 submission types (Deliver Passports for Malaria, Take out Convoys for Arms dealers, Assassinate people for mysterious phone call guy and Buddy missions) which you can do over and over. Even the main missions (assassin’s creed had assassinations which all played out the same way, find target, chase them then kill them) all play out pretty much the the same, go to place X and either kill someone or blow something up. The buddy’s do try and add a little variety (Meet me at place Y fetch/murder Z then go to X and then rescue me) but it’s all very much the same.

    >Muzman
    There’s no differently, everything follows the same path regardless of what choice you take, there might be some minor differences in the case of which buddy it is, but they all do the same shit, and the main story follows the same path.

  22. Eli Just says:

    I HATE the G3. And all the other guns are locked! Also, the enemies take WAY too many bullets to die, even on hardcore. The African setting feels oppressive and dark, but I guess it’s supposed to feel that way. Other than that, I love it.
    Also, I had no issue with Alt-Tab, even though I got the same warnings. I was worried because I’d heard about the crashes, but I don’t have any problem.

  23. Muzman says:

    I haven’t seen such polarised, contradictory reviews in quite a while. Ok, I have but people are saying the precise opposite things about this game fairly regularly. Already.

    It’s linear; It’s adaptive and evolving in narrative

    It’s samey; You can do things lots of different ways.

    The AI is stupid; The AI is smart

    It’s no more complex and Crysis; It’s infinitely more complex than Crysis.

    There’s no real freedom; There’s fundamental and important freedoms.

    I guess I won’t know for sure until it arrives.

  24. Bhlaab says:

    Perhaps doing something active, like organising petitions, letter-writing, etc, might be seen as legitimate. “Piracy as protest”, however, will not.

    And it will be legitimately ignored.

    Publishers are thick and will just blanket any arguments with the word “piracy” as if that explains everything, despite the fact that their games are still being widely pirated (and the pirates are the only ones who don’t have to deal with the DRM!)

    Anyway, I’ve dabbled in Far Cry 2. Enough to know that i probably like it. Frankly, I’m not even daring to think about other games while fallout 3 is scant days away…

  25. Leeks! says:

    Gosh darn EB for getting in every version except the PC one–which is, of course, what my pre-order was on, good little fanboy that I am. Of course, I did sort of have that coming, being both a PC gamer and a Canadian. I think that puts my specific demographic at the bottom of pretty much every priority list.

  26. Klaus says:

    The thought of someone playing a game for free, which I paid for, enrages me by itself.

    This. I don’t understand… ok, I understand a bit. I just don’t know how it affects so many people. If you want to buy the games, then buy them. If you want to pirate them, do so. Make your decisions and be happy with them. I lack the righteous anger but I may just be amoral.

  27. Klapperman says:

    After taking the time to really get playing I can honestly say that after a 8 hour marathon session, open-worlds suck. For me every free roaming open-world game to date has left me cold. The worlds feel shallow and empty, as if the quest for more content could only be fulfilled by having less for lack of a better term “body” to the game. Come-on, hire a good scriptwriter, have an interesting story. It’s nice to be able to shoot free-roaming AI dumbbots all over the place, but without an interesting story, why bother? Give me less freedom and more game/goal, please.

    And for god sakes, give me the ability to go prone…

  28. Jim Rossignol says:

    @Rook

    That still doesn’t really seem like much of a comparison. FPS in shooting and blowing things up shocker? Hmm.

  29. Donald Duck says:

    A heads up for Vista users – If the game is crashing a lot, disable visual themes by rightclicking on the icon in Vistas fancy game folder. Worked wonders for me.

  30. Ian says:

    Are we talking about DRM for this game again? Isn’t there already another comments thread about this? And a thread on the forum?

  31. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this i think is going to suffer from assasins creed syndrome it’s basically the same where there’s a big open world that’s fun to run around and slaughter people in but not much more to do, for me a fun explore and slaughter game is enough and i loved assasin’s creed and i love this.

    one thing though if this was 3rd person it’d basically be a watered down GTA and maybe people are saying why can’t we have full on first person GTA!

    I’m just glad these kind of games aren’t dying like Warren Spector said they are.

  32. AbyssUK says:

    Average game with bad DRM = no sale, but doesn’t mean i won’t play it.. perhaps if they valued me as a customer i would have bought a copy. Shame isn’t it

  33. Cataclysm says:

    @Kadayi

    “so hijacking every RPS thread to endlessly beat the drum about DRM at every given opportunity is little more than trolling tbh”

    Bringing up an unmentioned part of the game in a comment of a review of the game is perfectly reasonable.

    I, myself do not know every game that includes a DRM or how strict the particular DRM is and I am happy that Meat Circus (on a blog I read daily) has informed me that FC2 does infact contain it.

    It lowers the chance significantly that I would consider purchasing this game.

  34. Little Green Man says:

    That is very weird that my comp with 8800GTS 320 ran it at mostly very high settings at 1280*1024 with 2*AA. Crazy. Looked much prettier than Crysis, thats for sure.

  35. Little Green Man says:

    Oh and thank you RPS for the preview function, although the edit button would have made jump in glee.

  36. The Sombrero Kid says:

    ooh & 8800 GT ran on full settings 1900×1200 30fps very impressive, combined with rapid start up, load and alt-tabbing times

  37. Dominic White says:

    I must say, I just don’t get the hate that the game is getting. Probably the single most baffling thing is that a lot of people have actually been complaining that there’s too much shooting and not enough talking.

    It’s an FPS. Isn’t it a good thing that there’s a lot of fighting? And for those comaplining about having to drive everywhere, use the bus stations – it cuts out at least half of the driving time from each mission.

    So far, my one real gripe with the game is the acting. The writing seems passable, but everyone just talks in an absolutely flat monotone, and really, really fast like they’re trying to hurry through the script as quickly as they can.

  38. Dominic White says:

    Perhaps people just had weird expectations of this? They expected some sort of amazing freeform adventure/RPG thing, and got a sandbox FPS.

  39. Ian says:

    I actually quite like the driving. It bugs me a little when an enemy truck or two appear out of seemingly nowhere, but the getting out and grabbing new safehouses, taking out guard posts, etc. doesn’t bother me.

  40. jalf says:

    I suspect (though I don’t know) that publishers monitor the torrent sites.

    It won’t have escaped anybody’s notice that Spore is the most pirated game of all time, and became so during EA’s very public spat with its own customers.

    Yes, and if publishers are dumb enough to push DRM in the first place, they’re *certainly* dumb enough to take every “vote by piracy” as an argument for *more* DRM. Well done. That’s why I liked Spore’s Amazon protest. Finally a visible form of protest that *doesn’t* fuel the pro-DRM arguments. Instead, you choose to demonstrate that “Piracy is still a problem, and look, people *want* our games, so if we can stop piracy, we’ll get a bajillion guaranteed sales”. Well done.

    quite frankly you haven’t addressed the issue of how likely the DRM is really going to impact upon the average gamers enjoyment, long term</blockquote?
    What is the “average gamer” now? Of course limited installs is going to impact a significant amount of gamers, if the game is any good. That is one of the things that bug me about DRM. Publishers are effectively saying “Don’t worry, this game isn’t good enough that you’ll want to play it a few years from now”. And why should we care about the “average gamer”? We’re not average gamers. That makes us a lot more likely to hit against the DRM restrictions, and that’s a pretty fair reason for *us* to not buy the product. The average gamer will have to decide for himself, based on whether *he* is going to hit the install limit. He’s hardly relevant to a discussion of whether non-average gamers should get the game.

    Tell me, of the hundreds of thousands of people who’ve played Counterstrike since it came out almost a decade ago, how many do you think have gone through more than 3 computers? How about the sims? Casual crowd, sure, the people who probably “aren’t going to notice DRM”. Except that they’ve played this game for something like 6 years now, and show no sign of stopping.

    If the best reassurance publishers can give us is “you’ll get tired of this game before you run up against our limitations”, they’re doing it wrong.

    As for the actual game, meh, consider me non-excited. Maybe I just haven’t paid enough attention to all the awesomeness of the game, but I think I’ll live without playing it. It’s not like I don’t have enough games to play next weeks… :p

  41. jalf says:

    wtb edit button! Just imagine the above post was formatted properly… :p

  42. unclelou says:

    “That is very weird that my comp with 8800GTS 320 ran it at mostly very high settings at 1280*1024 with 2*AA. Crazy. Looked much prettier than Crysis, thats for sure.”

    Hm, got to disagree with this. If I reduce the settings in Crysis so I get a similar farmerate as I get in FC2 at the almost highest settings, Crysis still looks significantly better. I really don’t like the look of FC2 at all.

  43. Rook says:

    Jim > Are you trying to tell me that the quests aren’t the same four things over and over, the main missions the same thing over and over and that assassin’s creed wasn’t like that either?

  44. unclelou says:

    “@Rook

    That still doesn’t really seem like much of a comparison. FPS in shooting and blowing things up shocker? Hmm.”

    I think he’s got a point. The design philosophy behind AC and FC2 is very similar in many respects. There’s much more of a game in FC2 than there ever was in AC, but the formulaic and forced nature of “repeat sidemission x to unlock y” is apparent here as well.

  45. rabbitsoup says:

    “My two main problems with Far Cry 2 are mouse controls and multiplayer.

    I own the PC version and my largest gripe is that the mouse movement and aiming feels very “floaty” and unresponsive. The menu screens are awkward as well. (And I have tinkered with my mouse settings numerous times.)

    The multiplayer portion just screams “console port” and this is NOT a good a thing. Though the game features dedicated servers, you have to wait in a lobby and ‘ready up’ before the match begins. You cannot join a server that is in the middle of the game. When the round ends, you are removed from the server and you have to find a new place to play.

    Also, in multiplayer, the guns feel quite wimpy. It takes at least half of a clip to put someone down. At longer ranges, anything but a sniper rifle is highly inaccurate. And one cannot even pick up guns off the ground.

    I am disappointed that reviewers are generally not pointing out these issues. PC gamers expect more from their controls and multiplayer.

    Right can someone back this man up its surely of more interest if the mulitplayer half assed than the DRM being well DRM

  46. Paul Moloney says:

    “They expected some sort of amazing freeform adventure/RPG thing, and got a sandbox FPS.”

    Then they’re incapable of reading. Nowhere did anyone ever say that Far Cry 2 was anything other than an FPS; RPG was never mentioned. They may as well criticise it because there is no top-down view or base-building.

    It’s burning a hole on my desk at home, will pop home for lunch and try it out.

    P.

  47. Kieron Gillen says:

    Gorgeras: “Wouldn’t it be great if magazines refused to review any games with DRM? ”

    So you want all the console mags to close down?

    People – there’s a preview function on your posts. Use it, re-read it and avoid mistakes.

    KG

  48. Rook says:

    Ultimately, I feel that Far Cry 2 was the game that Bioshock tried to warn me about. It should be a game that offers choice (do I side with UFLL, or PFC, do I help the rebels or my friends etc), but doesn’t. There’s nothing you can do to stop you going down this one path, I mean do I even care why I’m killing things, or why I listen to my interchangable “best buddy?”

  49. Jim Rossignol says:

    Are you trying to tell me that the quests aren’t the same four things over and over, the main missions the same thing over and over and that assassin’s creed wasn’t like that either?

    No, I’m wondering why that matters. “Two games both have four mission types” isn’t similarity enough for it to be relevant.

    The problem with Assassin’s Creed was that the four missions were always bookended with the crappy fighting, they were all kind of annoying and unbelievable, and were framed with a cutscene-draped nonsense fiction. Far Cry 2 on the other hand is quite a good FPS, suffering none of those problems. The missions are all “go have a big fight”. And that’s the point of FPS games.

    Drawing a parallel between the two simply isn’t useful, whether you’re criticising the game, or lauding it.

  50. Kieron Gillen says:

    I haven’t played enough of FC2 to really comment but the number of missions doesn’t mean anything. The problem with Assasin’s Creed was one of the four missions was *just sitting on a bench*.

    KG