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. Paul Moloney says:

    The problem with Assasin’s Creed was one of the four missions was *just sitting on a bench*.

    That’s great – with a little effort, someone could make a Euro Old Age Pensioner Simulator mod.

    P.

  2. Poe says:

    I’ve been looking forward to playing this since I heard about it on the last PCG UK podcast. Unfortunately the activation servers don’t seem to be working currently. Hopefully they fix their problem and I’ll be able to play sometime today.

  3. Larington says:

    People talking about DRM again?

    The topics gotten tedious for me as well.

  4. Dominic White says:

    It just occured to me that while people are complaining about FC2 (intended to be a pretty straightforward FPS from the start) not being enough like an RPG, an almost equal number of people – RPS folks included – are complaining about Fallout 3 (an RPG first and foremost) not being enough like an FPS.

    Why, this apple that I bought that looks like an apple tastes like an apple, and not an orange! I am shocked and appalled!

    Just eat yer goddamn apples.

  5. Rook says:

    I’m not really sure how you can’t see you’re playing the same 5 minutes over and over again with a slightly different background.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Rook: You could say the same of all first person shooters. You walk forward, you find bad dudes, you shoot them with guns until they die. You do it again in different environments, with different guns, against more/different enemies, but it’s still the same core gameplay.

    The only question that should reasonably be asked is ‘Is it fun?’.

  7. Kadayi says:

    jalf

    You can reinstall the game as many times as you want to, you simply have to contact the publisher after the 5th time to gain an authorization code. How likely are you to reinstall a SP story driven FPS in say the next 3 years? Given after 3 years Ubi will probably disable the install limitation by then? how addicted are you to fully upgrading your computer and completely reinstalling your games that you do it every 3-4 months and have a penchant for replaying the same game repeatedly, rather than buying nicer, shinier newer games that might make your new hardware sing? It’s a phantom one legged Indian with an eye patch complaint at the end of the day when you do truly consider the probabilities on it. I’m sure those rare Indians sleep better for knowing their cause is being argued ad infinitum by ardent non gamers though.

  8. Rook says:

    With Far Cry 2 it’s never a slight variation, it’s exactly the same thing. Every roadside encounter plays out exactly the same way, guy drives straight into you, then get’s out his vehicle only to be shot by my uzi. I must have played through that scenario 100+ times.

    I don’t mind that people like that or think it’s good, I liked assassins creed because I liked those 5 minutes. But I wouldn’t deny to someone that it was just the same 4 things over and over again, or tell them it didn’t matter because what else are you going to do in a medieval assassin sim.

    And similarly if someone tried to claim that Far Cry 2 was this amazing non-linear experience that completely revolutionised the FPS genre than I would look at them strangely. If it then turned out they had the world exclusive review and cover story on their magazine…

    Kieron> You had to sit on the bench, then follow your target to a secluded spot and beat him into submission, then kill him.

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’m sorry you seem to be trapped in Groundhog Day, Rook. My experiences so far have been of a surprisingly diverse series of battles, with all kinds of shooting-based variation.

    And I do love that “setting everything on fire” stuff.

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    And in the game?

    (That was aimed at Rook, but works with Jim too. It’s that kind of joke)

    KG

  11. StalinsGhost says:

    Gah! DRM is actually refusing to acknowledge my legit serial. Editor works nicely though.

  12. Dominic White says:

    The only point of repetition I’ve found so far is the little guard checkpoints scattered around. My experience with them usually involves driving right through them, squashing a guard or two and perhaps even knocking down a building. Maybe about a quarter of the checkpoints contain a guy in a jeep who’ll try to ram/shoot me, so I hop out of my car and shotgun him, then continue to the mission area.

    Such encounters are usually around the 10-second-long mark, and break up the monotony of driving fairly well.

    The mission fights are excellent. Usually a huge area crawling with enemies and with lots of alternate routes, high sniping points, barrels and explodables. Each fight can play out completely differently depending on what loadout I’m carrying around, too. A sniper rifle makes for a wildly different battle to a rocket launcher.

  13. Flint says:

    StalinsGhost:

    Use the manual activator. And if it still screams errors at you, check the Os and zeroes.

  14. StalinsGhost says:

    Done and done. None of those worked.

    But I’m playing the game now to be quite frank, and with no thanks to Ubi or SecuROM.

  15. Cataclysm says:

    @Kadayi

    Its the fact you are limited. You never know how many times you will need to reinstall your game and update your computer, but you should not be limited when you buy a game, especially when you are MORE limited than the pirates that had the game the day before it was released!

    Its a matter of principal. When is it time to voice your concerns? When you have 1 installation limit and every other installation you need to pay £3.99?

    DRM is part of the game, legally and is worth commenting on when its included in a game, even if its merely “sadly the game does contain DRM that has an activation limit of 5, but it doesn’t appear to cause any other crashes – aside from that its a brilliant game” at the end of a review.

    The comments section is for blog readers to post their comments relating to the blog post. In this case Meat Circus wanted to mention the DRM contained on the game and that he doesn’t like it.

  16. K says:

    Not recognising my serial either. *sigh*

  17. unclelou says:

    Probably obvious, but the CD-key is one of those “0″ looks like “O” affairs, or vice versa, I have already forgotten. Might be worth a try.

  18. unclelou says:

    Read the thread, Lou.

    Sorry, I just saw it has already been posted. :)

  19. darthpugwash says:

    Won’t recognise my serial either. :/

    There aren’t any Os or 0s in there, and I tried subbing out the Vs for Us, but no luck.

  20. Paul Moloney says:

    Installed fine for me. I noticed that the first time it started up, nothing happened; a process called something like farcry2_authentication appeared then disappeared. The second time I started it, all went well.

    Between installing, authenticating, and the initial loading – which took a LONG time (did anyone else get this?) I only got to see a bit of the intro.

    P.

  21. Deuteronomy says:

    I HATE the hitscan weapons. The entire feel of the game leaves me with the impression of cardboard. The respawning enemies are idiots, it takes way too many hits to bring them down, and the graphics while nice enough are not even in the same league as Crysis. Stupid consolized weapon unlocking system. Overly easy even on the hardest difficulty. Repetitive checkpoint encounters.

    There is no doubt why the game’s called Far Cry 2. It plays (in terms of weapon feel and movement) and looks nearly as good as Far Cry 1. Not a horrible game, but it doesn’t even come close to the hype.

    Stalker remains the king of the open world shooter.

  22. N says:

    Are the buddies selected randomly? or do they depend on what character you select in the beginning?

  23. K says:

    Sorry, won’t mention it again, but…

    The serial issue is a pretty common one, and they are apparently aware of it, but are too shy to say unless you ask. They say either the server is too busy, or the serials aren’t entered into the database yet. I’d have thought the database would already exist, so they can print them onto the manual in the first place, but I am wrong. So, all you can do is wait/retry.

  24. maxmcg says:

    I find it incredibly annoying that if you are from Europe, you can’t buy this game on Steam, Direct2Drive, Ubisoft’s own service or any other digital download store *anywhere* for that matter.

    Are not digital stores safer for publishers piracy-wise? And all this talk about DRM…

    Are they just asking for the disgruntled would-be customers, those without easy access to high street stores, disabled people or otherwise just lazy people to pirate their game? Because it’s just a few clicks of the mouse away if that’s the route you want to take.

    I don’t want another bloody box and another DVD I need to put in the drive. My shelves are cluttered with them. The whole thing angers me so much I won’t buy this game. In fact I’m really tempted for the first time to pirate it out of pure spite.

    What the hell are Ubisoft thinking here?

  25. Paul Moloney says:

    “I don’t want another bloody box and another DVD I need to put in the drive. My shelves are cluttered with them. The whole thing angers me so much I won’t buy this game. ”

    Here’s clinching proof that video games do cause violent behaviour.

    P.

  26. Rook says:

    N> Buddies are random, but they all basically have the same role/quests just with slightly different lines of dialogue.

  27. Mman says:

    “I find it incredibly annoying that if you are from Europe, you can’t buy this game on Steam, Direct2Drive, Ubisoft’s own service or any other digital download store *anywhere* for that matter.”

    Yes, where are the Angry Internet Men on this issue? Screw DRM, this crap is what has just lost them a sale from me.

  28. maxmcg says:

    Yeah, if ever you needed proof that it’s the Angry Internet Men that are the ones pirating games, that’s it.

    They don’t know you can’t buy the games because they don’t buy them anyway, they just shout about hard they are to copy.

  29. Jim Rossignol says:

    Okay, the thing that is really bugging me is the AI/vehicle stuff. The zooming in headlong guns blazing is great, but then what the hell is with them just standing next to their vehicle when they get out? Rubbish.

    I think if they couldn’t make that work they should have left it out entirely, or found some way for the AI to keep driving – or have the guy shoot with a pistol from his seat – anything! The NPC stupids are a real annoyance.

    The general on-foot fighting has been fun so far, especially when lots of explosives are involved. The AI confusion doesn’t manifest anything like as badly there.

    This is going to make a really interesting verdict when we get round to it, I suspect, as all the RPS team seem to have their own likes and dislikes well mapped out.

  30. Paul Moloney says:

    “They don’t know you can’t buy the games because they don’t buy them anyway, they just shout about hard they are to copy.”

    They MAY just buy if the developers agree to DOWNLOAD games DIRECTLY into their minds. For FREE.

    P.

  31. Leeks! says:

    One bench sitting game.

    Good god yes.

  32. Nimic says:

    So, still not possible to buy this game digitally. I wonder if developers realize how many purchases they lose to piracy over crap like this. Not that I’ll even bother pirating. I’ve heard too much tedious crap over it in here to do that. Besides, I’ve got way too many games to play already.

  33. Colthor says:

    @maxmcg:

    Or, possibly, they looked at the price through Steam and realised it’s so ridiculous it renders the “can’t buy it from them” moot, because nobody in their right minds would anyway.

    Or, possibly, when you’re not buying a game because of the copy protection, it renders the “where do you buy it from?” question rather pointless.

    And to counter your foolish and insulting assertion; the pirates have no reason what-so-ever to care about either the copy protection or the shops you can buy it from, so why would they bother commenting on either?

  34. Ian says:

    I love discs in boxes.

    <3<3<3

  35. Paul Moloney says:

    “So, still not possible to buy this game digitally. I wonder if developers realize how many purchases they lose to piracy over crap like this.”

    It takes me far less typing/mouse-clicks to buy a game on play.com than on Steam; for one thing, it keeps a record of my credit card. I think it’s about 5 mouse clicks.

    Am I getting old – 38 on Tuesday – or is the sense of entitlement that some PC gamers have, and the huge effort which they find the simplest tasks to perform, bizarre to anyone else?

    God be with the days when it used to take 5 whole minutes to load up a Spectrum game from tape, every single time. And more often than not, the Speccie spontaneously rebooted at the end of the load.

    And that’s not even counting having to type in games listings.

    P.

  36. Dominic White says:

    I got a boxed copy, because it was only £25 off play.com, and came in a fancy shiny metal case. Even if they had offered it on Steam (and I could have gotten it ‘gifted’ to me by US-resident friends), it probably would have been more expensive anyway.

  37. Paul Moloney says:

    I got a boxed copy, because it was only £25 off play.com, and came in a fancy shiny metal case.

    Damn; I went for the shopto.net offer, which was a tad cheaper, but hence came in the cheapy plastic one. It’s, like, totally shallow, but I do like those metal cases.

    P.

  38. suibhne says:

    The respawning checkpoints are laughable: enemies respawn within (real-life) minutes and almost right next to you, which is amazingly jarring and “gamey” in contrast to the game’s realism and immersiveness. How do they get there? There are no new cars or boats; the new enemies simply appear out of thin air, with no variety or logic.

    Driving through works fine, except when it doesn’t; every shotgun blast to your car makes it run more slowly, and it only takes two good shots or so before you can no longer outrun the pursuing Jeep. And those river checkpoints…forget it. The swamp boats travel slowly enough that you’re forced to deal with every river checkpoint rather than bypass it.

    So much of the game is smart and fun that I’m just boggled they couldn’t have handled this glaring design problem with more intelligence.

  39. Colthor says:

    Wheras at the full $49.99+VAT it’d cost you at least £37.63 from Steam.

  40. Nimic says:

    @ Paul Maloney:

    Assumptions is the mother of all fuck-ups. Not everyone lives right next to a game store. Not everyone can just take a quick trip into town to pick up the game they want. Also getting my games on Steam, or most other digital services, is cheaper, quicker and safer.

  41. Paul Moloney says:

    Call of Duty 4 is still $69 + VAT (€56/£44) on Steam which is nuts. Then again, it’s stil one of the highest sellers there, a year after a release, which makes me thing that (a) there is one born every minute and (b) I don’t think the publisher can complain too much about not making any money off the PC version.

    P.

  42. Paul Moloney says:

    “Assumptions is the mother of all fuck-ups. Not everyone lives right next to a game store. Not everyone can just take a quick trip into town to pick up the game they want.”

    Neither do I, which is why I mentioned play.com. Actually, the nearest game store is only 10 minutes walk away, but like most retail PC stores they normally charge ridiculous prices.

    I’m sorry, but the unending ceaseless whining from people who sound like spoiled brats just gets to me.

    P.

  43. Bhazor says:

    Oh I agree totally about the minor issues ruining a blindingly deep and ambitious game. I mean it’s not as if you can just download minor repairs that are released on a semi regular basis by a developer or community.
    Why the hell didn’t they keep it in development for another six months?

    Also about the people refusing to buy this game because it isn’t available for download on the first day. So cute! It’s like little kids refusing to drink that yucky apple juice unless it’s in their superman cup that makes everything super tasty. Between this and the NMA forum I’m beginning to see why developers are leaving the PC. Piracy may be used as an excuse by them but how many people above have advocated piracy?

  44. dhex says:

    the good:

    had to go intimidate a dude. after killing a bazillion people in this otherwise awesome looking villa, i find the dude and intimidate him. after his dirty deed is done, he just sort of looked at me imploringly. but i had to shoot him. he sort of looked like he knew that too.

    the voice acting is pretty good. people sound impatient, as one would think in the middle of a horrible situation.

    last night, i plowed through one in a truck, and hit three guys like bowling pins. right before i hit the checkpoint one guy said “ahn vhat do vee ave eeeer?” right before he flew into the air.

    FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE! holy crap that’s an excellent thing.

    the bad:
    i get more drive-bys than a movie about gang warfare. i’ll be hanging out and it’s all HERE COME DA BOOM every five minutes. jeeze louise!

    people are far too hard to kill, though at least headshots work, mostly. i think.

    it is sort of ugly, but i think a lot of that is the fotzed FOV. once that’s hacked/fixed/patched/whatever, i think we’ll see some improvements.

    oh hey securom update: their first response was the text from the website; the second was how to manually run their analysis tool. i will reinstall the game so i can crash it out and re-try the analysis tool.

    i would like to think we come one step closer to an actual answer, but…breath is not being held.

  45. Mman says:

    “Also about the people refusing to buy this game because it isn’t available for download on the first day. ”

    No? The whole point is that it’s likely to never come up for download.

  46. Bhazor says:

    Reply to Mman

    From the steam news browser.
    “Far Cry 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the hit action game is now available on Steam.

    Far Cry 2 is now available to customers in North America for just $49.99″

    http://store.steampowered.com/news/1918/

  47. Mman says:

    Oh, I forgot, North America is the only country in the world.

  48. Flint says:

    Main annoyances with the game at the moment are car-driving enemies which seem to just spawn out of nowhere in the middle of the jungle, and that the PC version lacks the achievements that the PS3 and Xbox versions have.

    Otherwise I’m enjoying greatly.

  49. Fumarole says:

    I was standing near a bush when a grenade went off near me. Close to death when the fight was over, I had to pull a frickin’ twig (complete with leaves) out of my arm before I could proceed.

    You just gotta love things like that.