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. Y3k-Bug says:

    MightyYesac touched on something I forgot to put out there:

    Is FarCry 2 REALLY an open game? What defines the experience as open? The game certainly allows you to choose your missions freely, at will. But the game offers nothing but the option to kill people. You can take misssions from the UFLL, the other faction, from radio towers, from the preacher in order to get medicine. But ALL of them involve killing people.

    GTA4 comes off much better in that respect. Its open. You can choose to kill people. Or hang out with npc’s. Or hit up a comedy club. FC2 seems artificial and lame in comparison.

    That said, I think if the developers really sit down and listen to the critiques of FC2, FC3 can potentially be incredible.

  2. Larington says:

    The world is more or less open, in the sense that you aren’t coralled into a linear run-through of levels. The gameplay, I think, is less so.

  3. john t says:

    But I’m having problems distinguishing enemies from the environment.

    I actually kind of like that about the game. It feels real. If I’m getting pegged by someone I can’t see, I find cover and duck behind it until i can sort it out. Of course if I’m still getting shot after I’m behind cover, I’ve eliminated 180 degrees of panning that I now have to do to find the person. Look for vegetation moving, tracer bullets, etc. You can try using molotovs to “smoke ‘em out”, too.

    You definitely can’t run and gun in this game. Find high ground, and go all around the outside of the camp before you go in. Always have a sniper rifle on you. Look for explosive piles to cause chaos with. My favorite is to wound somebody near a pile of fuel or ammo, and then wait for people to come help them get up, and blow up the ammo pile behind them.

    Sometimes the AI is shockingly good. I wounded someone, he picked himself up, and crawled to the back side of the safehouse and sat with his back against the wall. I ignored him, thinking it was like GTA 4, where he was effectively ‘out of the action’, and then i turned my back to him, and the fucker shot me. Loved that. Of course, he got a machete to the face after that.

    Is anybody finding the IED useful? I just picked it up, but I don’t know what to do with it. I got it after the mission where i have to stop the arms dealers that keep driving around in circles, where it would have been useful. (what a stupid mission that was).

  4. Larington says:

    Haven’t used the EID, I just tend to use the RPG for the weapons dealer missions, stand in the road and rapid fire (As much as you can with an RPG) for big splodes.

  5. Dain says:

    “So the game has mysteriously appeared on European Steam?”

    Yes… but for 5 quid more than Amazon. The dilemma of paying 5 pounds more and getting it straight away is a tricky one..

  6. K says:

    Yeah, I’m somewhat more used to the palette now. Possibly would have been a good idea to get used to it on Normal instead of Infamous. Although, I did mess around with the contrast and such too. Maybe it’s my monitor. I just feel there’s a lack of feedback, somehow. It’s not something I thought, say, Crysis or STALKER needed. Speaking of lacking, that’s my overall impression of the game. Instead of thinking how well something is implemented, I’m left with “If only…”.

  7. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Somehow I don’t have a problem with the subtitles, but I do find the music intrusive when its calm. So I switched it off.
    By the way, it is very tragic when you shoot down one of your buddies, for if you try to heal them, they keep asking for more medicine and end up dying from an overdose. I feel sorry for them… even after shooting them in the head with a sniper riffle…
    Does anyone have a spare map poster? I would like to put the full map next to the Guild Wars, Oblivion and GTA posters to geek up my room. Too bad they printed on both sides.

  8. Nehacoo says:

    I, too, found the guard posts and patrolling cars annoying, but after a while I stopped using vehicles and the game suddenly got a lot better. Not only does the world seem a lot larger and more satisfying to explore on foot, but it’s also a lot easier to ignore both the guard posts and the cars that way. On foot you can just sneak past guard posts and they won’t see you, if a car’s heading your way you can just throw yourself into the grass by the road and they’ll drive past you. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find the game a lot more enjoyable this way.
    Well, I hope they release a patch with gameplay improvements though. One thing it definitely needs is more types of side missions.

  9. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    @john T
    I also like the controllable chaos in this game. You can even screw up once, without cheating(reloading).
    The IEDs are nice for the repetitive arms dealer missions. Park your vehicle in the route of the convoy, plant one IED on your own vehicle or on the road, and some near where you expect the truck to stop. Just wait for the first car to stop for your roadblocking vehicle and blow everything up. Mission finished in one nice big bang.

    Dang it, midnight allready.

  10. BarkingDog says:

    Played about 4 hours’ worth now, and Far Cry 2 is not as good as other open-world things like GTA or Oblivion. Granted there’s no artificial boundaries, but the side missions are just templated and rubbish, much like the ones from Freelancer back in the day, and movement feels sluggish- I hate the driving, you can’t even handbrake turn properly and the fastest way I’ve found to travel is to hold down sprint in ~chest height water.
    Slightly annoyed by the “malaria” mechanic as well, because honestly what sort of idiot goes to a country with malaria and doesn’t take anti-malarials? Also, I strongly doubt he’d show symptoms so soon after arrival, and a malarial crisis is not resolved by popping a single pill, and not that quickly. But either way it just breaks the immersion and feels very artificial.
    Combat feels ok, although because of the way they limit your inventory, I wish that sniper rifles counted as “specials” instead of replacing assault rifles/shotguns, and it would be nice if fire spread a little further…
    I really like the buddy system- it just feels better than ressing at a safehouse or something. Weapon jamming seems alright as well. But mostly it seems a bit meh.
    Trying to acquire dead space now, and hope it will entertain me better for the week until fallout3 comes out…

  11. Lep says:

    Fucking DRM motherfuckers. If anywhere near as much time is spent talking about DRM at the Thinkosium as there are posts about it here, I shall definately be organising a lynching for some of you bastards.

    Get militant or some shit, or live with it -just quit fucking moaning. If you want to play on the PC as a main format you’ve got to live with the bullshit. Its less of a hassle than the tinkering you had to do back in the day with autoexec, config, memory settings, etc…

    I’d rather suffer through 14yo kids smacktalk at me over Xbox live than have to sit through you dickheads moaning about this crap for most of the evening.

    But as for the game itself; I’ve bought it on the 360 and it seems great. I can’t see why people are complaining. I think its like Stalker: flawed, but there is enough beyond the flaws to more than make up for any niggling problems that might bother you. I remember the days when… …you kids don’t know you’ve been born… …bloody… *spasm*

  12. James says:

    I’m starting a kitty to put towards a contract on Tim Edward’s face.

  13. qrter says:

    Right! I’ll put in a quid (1), surely there’s some EastEnders extra that needs a bit of money..

  14. James T says:

    Now I know why they call them ‘tank tops’ — judging by the endurance of my enemies, a single layer of woven cotton has the bullet-stopping power of an M1 Abrams’ hull. Not fond of needing two SMG clips to kill people, nor the constantly-respawning checkpoint denizens, nor the pointless ‘malaria’ — and it strikes me as just a little boneheaded that [i]every single[/i] other motorist in the country is DESPERATE TO GET OUT AND KILL YOU NO MATTER WHAT THE COST (what is this, Paperboy?) — the constant gun-jamming is dreadful (I know it’s an incentive to pick up your bought guns, but then maybe they shouldn’t have made gun shop/supply areas as rare as hens’ teeth), and the “real-world map” stuff can be very irritating in the dark (we can’t just have an optional regular ‘map screen’ and assume our chosen hero brought a torch with him?) — oh, and by Christ I wish you could map commands to more than one key, that’s your ‘consolitis’ right there — but y’know, there’s still plenty left to like. I like hunting diamonds, I like the proper non-checkpoint fights (and even the odd checkpoint — ONCE — if they’re in an interesting place), I like the huge supply of missions (even if there’s only one or two types to speak of, the many venues and vectors of approach spice it up), and I really like the atmosphere of it all (I’d say it’s not quite as beautiful moment-to-moment as Clear Sky, but the elimination of regional loading screens is a major plus). If the techniques and technology used for Far Cry 2 are available for more games to use in future, we’ll be a lucky bunch indeed. As for the game itself, it’s got some painfully wrongheaded gimmicks and mistakes in it, but still, there’s fun to be had.

    I wonder if the checkpoint spawn/jamming/malaria could be modded out… we’d really be cooking with gas then.

  15. Nallen says:

    Why on earth does everyone in this game sound like they’ve been sped up by 10-20%?

  16. Frye says:

    I love it. My major annoyance is that the shadows are WAY too dark on my settings (medium/high). Actually shadowed areas seem darker than nights!

  17. Chaz says:

    Yeah I’m lovin this game at the moment too. There’s some bloody cool and surprising moments to be had in this game, like when I sat waiting in ambush for a supply truck and fired at it with my dodgy rusty old RPG, and the rocket bounced off the front of the truck and ricocheted into the jungle and blew up a tree, leaving me standing there like a complete lemon. Or when I snuck up on a road block which had an ammo dump I was after, and I chucked a grenade in which went and inadvertantly caused a flash fire, and the boxes of ammo I was after went up in flames exploding like a load of fire crackers. Having lots of fun sniping out bases and then sneaking in to take out the stragglers with my MAC10. I also love travelling by boat too, it’s very atmospheric, very Apocalypse Now, especially if you jump out the boat and set fire to the locals every now and then. And personally I think the graphics look gorgeous, especially when burning said locals by the river side at night.

    And I agree about the shadows, they are a bit on the pitch black side, especially in the midday sun.

  18. James T says:

    “Why on earth does everyone in this game sound like they’ve been sped up by 10-20%?”
    I’ve noticed that in some of the Witcher EE stuff too; they’re not higher-pitched, they’re just stringing their words together ridiculously fast, without grammar or inflection. Presumably it’s to save on studio/VA bills; they must be hideously expensive, considering how badly dubs/dialogues get butchered to slash an absolutely measly fraction of studio time off the bill.

    ‘All right, you poindexters, let’s get this right! One: “Hey, hey, kids, I’m Talking Krusty.” Two: “Hey, hey, here comes Slideshow Mel” — again — “Here comes Sideshow Mel, Sideshow Mel”. Three: “Huhuhuhahahah!” Badabing badaboom, I’m done. Learn from a professional, kid.’

  19. Eli Just says:

    I’m definitely liking it more now that I’ve played some more. the G3 was TERRIBLE! Now with a dart rifle a grenade launcher and a Mac 10 there are some sweet moments in the game. Hiding on the side of the road from patrols feels really cool when they pass your right by. All the issues with patrols and checkpoints is gone when you’re on foot. Too bad the world is so big you need to drive. Overall though it’s really fun.

  20. Psychopomp says:

    Concerning buddy death, yes it can happen.
    One who was on a mision with me got shot in the head whilst I was fighting off a truck.
    Normally, you get to help them back up. Apparently Head-Shot=Instant death.
    People were set on fire at that point.

    I’ve gotten past act 1, and am very impressed so far.

  21. Paul Moloney says:

    I just tried out the editor last night and it rocks. Once upon a time I tried to create a Doom level, but lost patience. The FC2 editor let me plodge together a reasonably realistic looking island in about 5 minutes. It really is very very clever.

    P.

  22. MetalCircus says:

    What is everyones big deal with the gun jams/check points? Frankly I think it adds heaps to the already bitter and depressing mood of it all.

    A gun jamming on you mid combat is awesome. You have to dart into cover quickly and get the jam cleared so you can continue fighting. Personally I never use rusty guns, i just buy them, but I once had a rusty Mac 10 which exploded in my hand due to wear and tear, that was pretty bloody surprising.

  23. Pox says:

    I’ve played about 10 hours of FC2 so far, and while it has a veritable myriad of very annoying niggles, it is a great game. I get minimum 45 fps with med-high settings on my 8800gts, and it looks better than Crysis on Low (which gets lower framerates), and the overall world is very believable – the lack of loading times and the sheer scale of it is quite impressive.

    The big problems are:
    - how systematic the “main missions” feel – other than the fact that they’re completely unrelated missions, and haven’t gone anywhere near what’s meant to be a “plot” during the entirety of Act 1, every single time I get a mission from one of the factions, my “best buddy” will ring me up 5 seconds later and say (at 500wpm) “Heymeetatthebarnontheoppositesideofthemap”. I drive over there, and they’ll give me some alternate way of completing the mission. And what do I get in return? “Reputation”. After the first couple of times, I decided that bitch wasn’t my buddy, and shot her in the leg. And again. She fell onto the ground (and a cloud of blue smoke magically appeared), begging for help. Then I drove off and got pissed off at:

    - Every bloody person in the bloody game jumping in their cars and chasing after me in a bloodlust whenever I so much as drove past. Gets really old, I’d much rather some kind of faction-reputation system… something as simple as Stalker:ШoC would do, or preferably the sort of thing you had in Freelancer. At least let me join a faction so only half of the checkpoints are full of insane snipers.

    - Guns jamming so much. Sure, guns jam, and probably more so in a gritty environment like Africa, but surely not every bloody magazine. Stalker with the right mods made me appreciate the benefits of having new weapons, but not to the point where I simply won’t scavenge for weapons unless I’m down to my last pistol bullet – it’s ridiculous. I haven’t looked into modding possibilities yet, but hopefully the ability to tweak AI behaviour, weapon jamming, etc is there.

    - Malaria – adds nothing, not even realism as far as I’m concerned – just progressively longer intermittent incapacitations, with the eventual result being “death” followed by awakening at the doctor’s clinic. Hopefully this can be modded out too, as I’m sick of doing the exact same mission to get the meds over and over.

    However, I forget all of these things when I botch a headshot on an assassination mission, the target dives for cover in the camp, and I’m forced to kill everyone to get to him. In the middle of it, I use an RPG to take out a guy hiding behind a fence, turn around to grab some ammo and discover the RPG’s backflare set the dry grass between me and the ammo cache on fire… and then the ammo explodes in my face, with a shot from an enemy finishing the job.
    I awaken seconds later with one of them “buddies” pulling me to relative safety, with the whole camp burning up around me. There are some truly epic moments.

    That was much too long a comment. I shall tl;dr the preview, deal with any silly boo-boos yourself.

  24. Paul Moloney says:

    Pox, good overview. The more I play FC2, the more impressed by it I am. Graphically, it beats Crysis; that game is more detailed, but flatter. It’s like comparing an Impressionist painting against a draughtsman’s technical drawing. FC2′s landscapes remind me of WoW’s Westfall: I love how Blizzard could use light with such a low-res landscape to capture a feeling of place so well.

    I’ve learned to drive either through sentry posts (running down as many enemies as I can) or simply driving around them. Sometimes they catch up in a jeep, but I’m now fairly practised at jumping out and gunning them out before they can even leave their vehicle.

    P.