The 12 Games of Christmas: Far Cry 2

By RPS on December 18th, 2008 at 11:09 am.


We’ve not taken our medicine today, so things might seem a little woozy. Perhaps there’s some drugs behind this latest window?

For the sixth game of Christmas, my true blog gave to me…

If Crysis was a far cry from Far Cry, then this is a far cry from Far Cry too. It’s the inexplicably-named arbitrary sequel, Far Cry 2! [You are actually fired, not joking this time - Ed]

Jim: When the RPS hivemind was discussing our games of Christmas earlier this month Far Cry 2 came up, with me as its primary advocate. I’ve played it for many hours, and had some excellent fun times, but nevertheless my first words in that discussion were criticism. In fact, on reflection, my wordy bashing of the game could fill many pages. It was, I concluded, this year’s best disappointment. While it was undeniably saddening and frustrating in a number of ways, it was also one of the best games of 2008.

The two reasons this game was impressive and inspiring were easy. First, the atmosphere of the place was near-perfect. The grotty, gritty African shanties were oppressive, swathed in the threat of violence, and clearly corrupted. The countryside surrounding them, which ebbed and flowed through savannah and swamps, into jungle, and outwards into arid desert. A sense of disease and danger existed throughout. Few games manage such a consistent feeling of tension in their world, and Far Cry 2′s design had, like many other games this year, pushed at the borders of what is possible in a game. It was world design that seemed to breathe uneasily: the worried civilians, the terse mercenaries, all woven into the throbbing soundtrack: it was humid and heavy. More impressive still were the little details that augmented the experience: the flies that swung briefly into your vision and disappeared, the way you knocked on the door to be let out of a militia HQ, the comparative rattle weakness of an old car against the sleek rubberised solidity of a brand new 4×4- and the map, that weird piece of paper magic. Far Cry 2 reeked attention to detail, and it’s tough not to love that. It provides access to somewhere we’re not, with amazing fidelity.

Then – the second reason – was the combat. Imperfect, yes, but full of energy. It was occasionally marred by AI awkwardness, or the relative ease with which confused NPCs could be despatched (some even killing themselves), but the actual chaotic mess of melee was superb, brutal, and ultimately thrilling. Fire propagation and real physics meant that a creaky trainyard could be transformed into a flaming, exploding mess, with enemies screaming their last observations about the world as you ripped them open with an automatic shotgun.

Knocking a rolling convoy off the road with a bazooka, or blowing apart wooden structures with a couple of grenades: this was all meaty, ugly, violent stuff, filled with energy and gore. The brilliant superhuman horror of tearing bullets out of your flesh to survive makes this into an 1980s action movie of a game, with cartoon logic in an all-too-real world. Getting hold of a dune buggy and bouncing into an enemy encampment, leaping out hurling molotovs and gunning down screaming mercs and close range, well, that the kind of release I’m appreciative off after a long day at the office. (My imaginary office in the sky.)

Nevertheless it was not a smooth ride. Indeed, there was a lot of critical flak generated for Far Cry 2, and I was in agreement with most of it. Even if we ignored the strange checkpoint respawns there was plenty of “oh, Ubisoft” sighing, which was a real shame. Perhaps the comparisons with Assassin’s Creed were inevitable, but they were almost all irrelevant. If there was a useful comparison it was probably that neither game took advantage of the world it had decided to build. In a year of open world games, it was one that hadn’t really benefited from the decision to create such a wide open environment. Far Cry 2′s open world structure became a frustration not because of the limited number of missions, or because of the way the story was told, but because it seemed to continually shatter its own illusion.

The “worldiness” of Far Cry 2 only really seemed to work in the ceasefire towns, where violence would be met with violence, but you were otherwise left alone. It seemed to me – and almost everyone who commented on the game – that NPC behaviour should have been similar throughout the game world, perhaps with spats of sporadic fighting. Instead, all NPCs outside the town area were hostile. It made for a rabid, psychotic existence, where everyone would attack you on sight, unprovoked. The context of most FPS games – where you are up against a linear horde of automatically hostile enemies – seems to make sense of this. An open world where you are simply driving along, minding your own business, does not. In Far Cry 2′s world, even a glimpse of your passing would drive NPCs to the brink of rabid madness, to the point of leaping into the jeeps and racing after you, bent in your destruction. It never seemed coherent. Perhaps that’s because the structure of the game suggested that it should be more like Stalker or Fallout 3 – more of an RPG, with its towns and landscapes, its missions and its vehicles. Ubisoft, meanwhile, went headlong into the land of the shooter.

This was tempered somewhat on the second map, where taking to the waterways reduced most of the aggro. Cruising along these and going ashore to take on the objective does seem to be the way the game was intended to be played, it’s just a real shame it took several hours to get that stage – about the same time that the majority of the weapons were opened up. It was also at this point that getting kitted up for combat, grabbing a vehicle, and heading out into the world, became really interesting.

Nevertheless, the project of exploration for its own sake seems to have been failed somewhat by Far Cry 2′s mechanics. despite it being lead Far Cry 2 bloke Clint Hocking who set me off thinking in that direction earlier this year, this was still not the explory shooter we wanted. I suspect the FPS aspects of Far Cry 2 were just too far to the foreground for it to work. A game of exploration needs to be more random, more RPG-inclined, as either Fallout 3 or Stalker were, to really make exploration for its own sake interesting. Far Cry 2 tried it on with the diamond cases, but they might as well have just been money, and the tracker system was just another all-too convenient piece of magic.

But there was more to it than that: the African setting somehow seemed exploration-retardant in its whole. It was lush and lavish, and wonderfully detailed, but somehow I didn’t feel like there was going to be anything unexpected, nothing to really discover. While I was stunned by the steaminess of the jungles, awed by the glimpse of a towering waterfall, and beaten by the dusty, sun-saturated surrounds of the desert, all these places ended up feeling like a film set. I knew that it was little more than the place where my pretend violence was going to take place. Not that I minded, because the violence was so entertaining. Little asides, like the way that readied buddies pulled you from the brink of death, or the way missions played out into a series of mad firefights, made it all worthwhile.

So an uncomfortable thumbs up for this strange game, then. Problematic and enormously entertaining, beautiful and oddly shallow. It was, like many of the greatest things in life, deeply flawed. I can’t love it, but I can, and do, think it’s great.

Kieron: While I don’t take issue with almost anything Jim says – though, perhaps inevitably, I’m going to dwell on what isn’t included in the “almost anything” – there’s an interesting subtext to it, and much of the debate around Far Cry 2. As a game, it was a self-conscious attempt to evolve the First Person Shooter. This is something people want. But, when they actually say that, what they seem to mean is “evolve it into something else”. If the path of the evolution of the shooter turns it into an RPG… well, I’m not sure it’s evolving the shooter at all. I suspect Far Cry’s failing is that it seriously believed in trying to grow whilst still determinedly wanting to remain a shooter.

Personally, my main annoyance with Far Cry 2 is that I simply haven’t played enough of it. Around 8-10 hours into the thing, still on the first map and I love it. This is frustrating, because when people ask me for a recommendation of a good game recently, I have to add a load of provisos before giving Far Cry 2. And they’re not problems I have with it, but since I haven’t delved enough of the game, I’m also aware they’re problems which may grow for me. In the slow days of January, I’m going to crack back on with it. Who knows – maybe I’ll end up doing something like Far Cry 2: A Defence and call the internet outside for a fight again.

Because there’s a lot to love in Far Cry 2. One issue I’d take with Jim’s position is noting its exploration possibilities are strictly limited. There’s actually two things pushing you towards exploration – and rewarding you if you do so. Firstly, those diamond cases. They’re not just a tiny bag of Gold. A good chunk of those cases have an implicit, context-based story around them. It’s not the equivalent of banging your head on a Mario Brick and getting a coin. They’re often these little potted dramas – how someone fell to their death, crashed a glider, whatever. The fact they’re crafted so carefully makes me feel for them in a way which random-generated Stalker never managed.

Secondly… well, the other thing pushing exploration is those constantly aggressive natives. What’s the safest route between X and Y I can manage in this land of mentalists? With a more passive populace, I wouldn’t feel the need to do this. And the best moments of the game have been provoked by my lateral movement and the game’s response to me – heading towards an assassination, skimming the south edge of the airport, sand beneath my treads… when a couple of zebras run alongside my truck. The sun’s setting. It’s about as atmospheric as a game’s been this year. And then I see the convoy ahead…

I suppose that’s the other key thing with Far Cry 2. It was a shooter which took me to a place I’ve never been before in a videogame. The price of entry is an odd little mental switch which isn’t built into us all, I suspect. Either you can make the mental adjustment that you have to fight everyone, or you don’t. I made the leap easily, and got on with it.

I think, as a game, it was incredibly brave. I actually think that making it into an RPG would have been the easier option. There’s plenty of models for that sort of game. Far Cry 2 struck out on its own – and I’m suddenly reminded of Thief. While Ubisoft Montreal’s leap of faith fell far shorter than Looking Glass, I think it’s commendable.

And as a final note, I suspect the problem with Far Cry 2′s approach was actually one of worldbuilding, and ironically the complete opposite of Far Cry 1 and Crysis’. Everyone hated the aliens in both of them. But if Far Cry 2 was actually set on a hostile alien world, with little pockets of civilization giving you tasks and a landscape which loathed your very presence… people would have been fine with the combat. It would make sense. The problem with Far Cry 2 was by creating a world which looks like a place where people live, and then not creating people who act like people there was this conceptual leap for the gamer to make. And while I made it, I can equally totally understand while others wouldn’t.

Either way, for everyone, I think it was worth the attempt.

, .

95 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    No, the comparisons with Assassin’s Creed were not irrelevant, they describe exactly where Far Cry 2 went wrong.

    For all its atmosphere, it’s First Person Assassin’s Creed, and quickly becomes repetitive.

    The first couple of hours are GoTY material, however.

  2. Dominic White says:

    There seems to be a genuine divide between the perception of FC2 with journalists (like those above) who generally seem to be saying ‘It’s very good, but with some flaws’, and the general internet concencus, which is ‘Worst fucking game this year’.

    Veteran gamey-type journo Tom Chick gave it a glowing 5-star review, and his personal Game of the Year award. I’ve seen people convinced that he’s trolling for even liking it.

    It does seem that a lot of people are rather upset that rather than being a Deus Ex/Stalker-esque open world game with FPS combat, it’s a staight action game with a roughly open-worldish environment.

    A bit like the original Far Cry, oddly enough.

    So, yeah. I like this game a lot. I think I’ve talked to another… two, three people who do?

  3. Meat Circus says:

    What I fail to understand is why, exactly, a game like Assassin’s Creed is condemned for its endless tedious repetition, and yet Far Cry 2 is being given a free pass by games journalists despite doing exactly the same thing.

  4. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    Because Assassin’s Creed’s repetition consisted of sitting on a bench. Far Cry 2′s involved dynamic and non-scripted firefights.

  5. Meat Circus says:

    @AndrewC:

    That was certainly part of the problem. Dynamic, non-scripted, and yet all the bloody same.

  6. ChaosSmurf says:

    @Meat:

    Sounds like an accurate representation of life itself to me.

  7. danielcardigan says:

    I agree. FC2 was a dull slog after that 8-10 hour mark. As much fun as having teeth pulled.

    OTOH toddlers will happily watch the same DVD over and over again and not get bored so perhaps I just have the wrong mentality.

  8. Headwoünd says:

    Noo don’t fire him! :D
    If a Far Cry could cry far, could a Crysis Far Cry 2?

  9. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    If they were all the same it was because you played them the same way.

    They certainly didn’t have any gimmicks to mix up the formula, but the shooting (and the scoping out the base before hand to decide how you were going to do the shooting) was the core game and it delivered it. Sitting on a bench was not the core game (nor, importantly, the promise of the core game) of Assassin’s Creed. And that is the difference.

    How about we say that, yeah sure, it may be trying to make a tower or make a bridge, but it’s all just sticking blobs together, right?

  10. Shadow Aspect says:

    Headwound, surely: how far could a far cry cry if a far cry could cry far?

  11. roBurky says:

    I loved Far Cry 2. I wasn’t bothered by the niggles that everyone else complained about. The only place I feel Far Cry 2 failed was in the story it chose to tell with its world, which I wrote about here:
    http://www.roburky.co.uk/?p=10

  12. Meat Circus says:

    @AndrewC:

    World of Goo is a shining example of a game that constantly surprises you by reinventing itself at every turn.

    Far Cry 2 is a game that is steadfast in its refusal to change anything, no matter how gimmicky, at any point in the game to keep me interested.

    Oh, how I longed for an occasional Valve-esque pre-scripted set piece.

    I have a short enough attention span as it is, without games deliberately trying to make it worse.

  13. Psychopomp says:

    @ Dominic White
    That seems to be a side effect of the average persons inability to judge a game for what it is, rather than what they expected.
    Fable, Deus Ex 2, Spore(Although Spores good game status is ACTUALLY up in the air), Far Cry 2, the list goes on.
    When people expect an industry changing game, they get REALLY fucking pissed when they get a game that is merely good.
    Far Cry 2 IS A GOOD GAME, the internet just can’t see it for what it is.
    Far Cry 2 tried to innovate while still remaining a shooter, people got angry that it wasn’t more RPG-like.(Which I think is highly silly)

    I think everyone needs to take Yahtzee advice, assume everything is shit until you play it. You’re never disappointed, and you’re pleasantly suprised when you would’ve been a raving loon.

    Edit: I, in no way, think Far Cry 2 is perfect. Many, of the complaints leveled against it are apt. I just wish people would stop acting like these are flaws that immediatly make it “fucking terrible.”
    Almost every game/movie/book/musician that tries to do innovate within an established paradigm, without becoming something different, ends up being a little akward. Awkward=/=fucking terrible

  14. Jim Rossignol says:

    Oh, how I longed for an occasional Valve-esque pre-scripted set piece.

    The greenhouses and the crash afterwards? Dropping mortars on the militia rally? Defending the barge?

    Also, no it’s really *nothing* like Assassin’s Creed, and saying both are repetitious does not make it so. The only motivation for that comparison is to try and connect Ubisoft dots.

  15. phuzz says:

    I’m going to have to side entirely with Jim on this, he’s said exactly what I’ve been trying to articulate for the last month or so. (which is why he’s a games journo and I’m not).
    Part of me really, really loves FC2, the graphics are lovely (and I know we are supposed to say “graphics are meaningless, gameplay is all!”, but hell, the graphics really are wonderful).
    The sense of place is really well done, although it’s obviously an invented place (Where do all the rivers all flow to? An enormous drain?), but it carries it off much better than eg GTA:SA.
    There is some wonderful moments (entirely unscripted) where you’re just trekking around, and the sun comes in at just the right angle and lights up the rocks just so, it’s almost like your own personal safari.

    On the other hand, well, you’ve heard all the criticisms, but for me the way you’re constantly having to either fight, or pick a route past enemies gets tiring too quickly.

    **some small spoilers**
    I’m currently stalled near the start of the second map, a combination of L4D and an annoyingly hard mission where you have to buy guns from the man you’re supposed to be killing and ship them to a small town purely to screw the town up, which went against how I wanted to play the game. Why do I have to play a bastard?
    Hopefully when I go back to FC2 (soon?) I’ll be fresh and I’ll be able to enjoy it again, but as it stands this is a very love/hate game.
    What it isn’t though is a crap game, it’s flawed, and not as good as *insert your fanboi game of choice here*, but it’s worth a play, maybe not until it’s out on budget but really, it’s a rough (conflict) diamond.

  16. Dan Lawrence says:

    I agree with Meat Circus that it was the repitition that has stopped me going back to finish Far Cry 2.

    I enjoyed the gun play reasonably enough but fighting the same group of four guys at the same check point for the 4th or 5th time soon became overly familiar and even more than that was the alternative, take the long way round to get to the mission objective usually involving a literal fifteen minutes of slow driving and walking. I remember the routine being;

    1. Grab a new mission.
    2. Look at the map to find where the objective is
    3. If its close or reachable by bus carry on playing
    4. If clearly most of my play session is going to be spent getting to the objective then unleash a slightly grumpy sigh and consider if there is anything else better to be doing.

    It wasn’t just the getting to the missions either, the missions themselves were also very unimaginative, you are never given any interesting choices just told to go to a place and basically kill all the guys in it. Why even bother with the fig leaf of story? Just list a number of kills and add a location to the map. As soon as there were other games around Far Cry 2 just never went back in the drive.

    I also agree with Jim’s point that if you go so far with world building you are entering a kind of uncanny valley of expectations.

    I’m not sure how many people have seen Hotel Rwanda or The King of Scotland but they were clearly influences here. There was room for some really effective stuff (lets see which developer is brave enough to put something like the recent aftermath of a geonocide into their video game) and the visual brilliance and borrowings from these great movies had raised my expectations that this was going to be a shooter with brains (CoD4 * 1,000) so to speak. I don’t think thats necessarily unfair on the developer, they clearly wanted to be compared with these movies at least visually I’d be stunned if their art director didn’t have hundreds of screengrabs of them.

    The moral being, if you come at me with brainy visual references and then present to me a braindead set of interactions then of course I’m going to be a little frustrated. That said I could have lived with all that if not for the repetitiveness mentioned above. I’m also going to agree with Kieron a bit at the end because I also think the game could work with a more fantastical setting. Mainly because it would allow you to vary the enemies that could be thrown at the player, Far Cry 2′s world with Half-Life 2′s enemy set? Sounds like a lot more fun to me, humans are only fun if you actually make them human, which I think requires so called “RPG” elements like interesting, non-violent choices.

  17. Meat Circus says:

    @Jim:

    The greenhouses and the crash afterwards? Dropping mortars on the militia rally? Defending the barge?

    Yeah, even those end up all feeling exactly the same. Pfffft.

    I don’t see what the problem is with ‘connecting the Ubisoft dots’ anyway. They’ve gotten themselves into a rut where they create atmospheric-but-repetitive games of late. Assassin’s Creed/Far Cry 2/Prince of Persia. They’re all symptomatic of the death of Ubisoft’s grasp of game dynamics as distinct from mechanics. Why not point this out?

  18. Premium User Badge

    mpk says:

    @Meat

    Dynamic, non-scripted, and yet all the bloody same.

    Not true, to be honest. Through hard drive failures I’ve approached the first four or five hours of Far Cry 2 three times now. Yeah, the missions are all the same but there’s a world of difference between tackling – say – the Belgian in the mansion mission at night, starting with a sniper rifle from the ridge or sneaking through the jungle during the day and coming up behind the building, or leroying in in a x4 and machine gunnning everyone to death. The AI reactions might be the same but those action bubbles all run differently.

    I agree that while the constant hostility of everyone outside the town hubs was wearying with every checkpoint you got to create your own action movie setpiece, only partially ruined when the patrol jeep you didn’t know about runs over you from behind.

  19. phuzz says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot the fire, come on Meat, tell us with a straight face that you never enjoyed setting things on fire in FC2.

  20. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    There were three or four mission types, and the mission experience changed depending on what weapons you had and how you decided to use them.

    Its almost like your criticism is rendered meaningless in hyperbole and opinion-as-fact.

    The repetition is there, compounded not only by an austere structure that refuses to even pretend it is mixing things up, but by a steady rather than frantic pace that stretches out the ‘getting to the base’ parts to grind-level lengths.

    But, at its heart, its core mechanic of blowing something up was absolutely as enjoyable as blopping two balls together, and the ineffable stuff like atmosphere and the sense of ‘being there’ is strong, giving context to the blowing stuff up.

    Nuance: try it.

  21. Meat Circus says:

    @Phuzz:

    I did enjoy it. Like all things, however, it quickly palls. Yes, even pyromania.

  22. Meat Circus says:

    @AndrewC:

    I can’t make myself be un-bored, no matter how much I want to. And I didn’t especially want to, because the fact that I was bored was entirely the game’s fault for refusing to adapt and evolve.

    After a couple of hours, Far Cry 2 bored me the fuck to tears, and I’m clearly not alone in this. Once I have a “fuck this shit” moment, there’s no way back.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the game’s core mechanics. It’s in the dynamics where Far Cry 2 falls short of managing to be interesting.

  23. Schmung says:

    I need to play FC2 at some point, but from what people have told me it suffers from puny weaponry and enemies that soak up far too many bullets and I know that would irritate me way, way more than stupid NPCs or whatever. I’m hoping that someone I know who doesn’t live hundreds/thousands of miles away from me buys it so I can have a go and make a decision about it because I like the concept itself.

  24. phuzz says:

    well if you can’t enjoy burning things then there’s no hope for you ;)

  25. Meat Circus says:

    @Phuzz:

    You should see the number of hours I’ve clocked up as a Pyro in TF2.

    FIRE IS PRETTY.

  26. Dominic White says:

    I’d just like to remind people that in the vast, vast majority of FPS’s, there’s only ONE mission type. You walk forward through corridors and shoot dudes, then walk through more corridors and shoot more dudes. And this continues until you run out of corridors and/or dudes.

    FC2 at least lets me pick my route, my loadouts, and my tactics, which immediately makes it LESS repetitive than most shooters, not more.

    Perhaps I’m being short-sighted here, but I can’t even imagine complaining about having too much combat in an FPS. Don’t you play this genre of game specifically for the combat? And the gunfights in FC2 are some of the best I’ve played.

    The random elements keep me on my toes, too – having my last rocket misfire and drop into the long grass, igniting the area around me and detonating a nearby ammo cache, sending me wildly dashing for some sort of cover from both the angry machinegun jeep that I couldn’t hit, and the ammo cooking off behind me.

  27. ZenArcade says:

    I enjoyed Far Cry 2, still playing it, but I do agree with the above criticisms. I disagree with the silly old internet though – it wasn’t that bad. If you want a bad game, play Ethnic Cleansing. (youtube it…)

  28. Jonas says:

    It’s not the equivalent of banging your head on a Mario Brick and getting a coin. They’re often these little potted dramas – how someone fell to their death, crashed a glider, whatever. The fact they’re crafted so carefully makes me feel for them in a way which random-generated Stalker never managed.

    QFT

    Good words from both of you, between you, you really described exactly how I feel about Far Cry 2. This is the post I’ve been waiting on since the game was released. Thank you.

  29. Dominic White says:

    Schmung: One shotgun shell at reasonable range usually kills an enemy, 5-6 bullets to the chest, or one to the head. The weapons are only ‘weak’ compared to Tom Clancyish tactical pseudo-sims.

  30. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    The grenade launcher is mighty.

    Also I sniped a mercenary in the willy while he was taking a piss.

  31. Gap Gen says:

    Far Cry 2 is deliriously silly. I came up to a crossroads at the same time as another jeep, and the other jeep spontaneously exploded. I suspect it had a grenade launcher and hit a nearby tree instead of me, but it was quite surprising at the time.

  32. Dan Lawrence says:

    The top image on this post reminds me uncomfortably of some terrifying christmas related nightmares.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Mr Pink says:

    While I agree with many of the flaws people have mentioned, and I have stopped playing during the second map due to becoming a bit bored with the repetitive nature of the game, there is a lot of fun to be had here. My favourite moment was standing in the road as a jeep approached me at top speed, and firing an RPG at it. Its momentum took it sailing over my head. Beautiful.

  34. Flint says:

    I really, really enjoyed Far Cry 2. Then halfway through when the map switch occurs, I realised the game has practically hit the reset button and I have to redo all the hard, long (and repetetive) work I did on the previous map.

    Haven’t had the energy to touch the game since.

  35. Switch625 says:

    I must say I that I did enjoy Far Cry 2 immensely, before I was diverted off to Fallout 3 for a month or so.

    I don’t find it too repetitive at all. Of course it could be, if I attacked every problem the same way – and yes, the game would probably let me do that.
    But when I play, I have a narrative going on in my head. I’m assigning personality traits and motivations to the guys on the checkpoints. Every firefight I approach in a different way, trying different tactics, different weapons etc. and I find it endlessly entertaining.

    My idea of an open-world game is that the gamer has to work a little to make it entertaining. The sheer breadth of options you have to attack a given problem means that some of them are going to be dull, or unsatisfying, so its up to you to push the game to its limits and see what other cool stuff you can do.

    I think the divide over this game might be between those gamers who want to feel like they are being challenged constantly (which FC2 doesn’t really do at all), and those gamers who want the game to be easy, but with lots of stuff to do.

    I’m definitely in the latter camp as, essentially, I’m a big wuss (who also loves fire, woo!).

  36. teo says:

    There seems to be a genuine divide between the perception of FC2 with journalists (like those above) who generally seem to be saying ‘It’s very good, but with some flaws’, and the general internet concencus, which is ‘Worst fucking game this year’.

    Veteran gamey-type journo Tom Chick gave it a glowing 5-star review, and his personal Game of the Year award. I’ve seen people convinced that he’s trolling for even liking it.

    I think this is a bit interesting, I wonder if it has to do with the amount of games that game writers play compared to normal gamers. I’m more and more getting the sense that there’s a huge disconnect between the perspectives of game writers and regular gamers on games.

    I’ve heard some writers recommend games that they didn’t like because they think it’s something everyone should play even though they might not like it.

    No!! That’s not how it works for us. I don’t buy a game so that it can give me a different perspective on other games. Games are expensive as hell! I buy them to be entertained

    When Far Cry 2 is one of the few brand new games I get to play in a year I’m not pleased with it just because it has some interesting ideas. I didn’t have fun with the game, I was extremely frustrated with it and even though I see some of the good in it I stil bloody hate it.

    I didn’t feel like the I was in a real place because it was designed so artificially. You were funneled in between mountains (geologically nonsensical ones) that even had invisible walls on them. Bah! The combat was the same every time, and it wasn’t very spectacular. It was just annoying

    Crysis’ big maps worked because of the nanosuit and the instant weapon modding. They designed the gameplay to suit large areas. This game is so far behind that.

    Also, a plane crash off screen followed by another generic battle isn’t a Valve-esque set piece. It was fine, it kind of broke the monotony, but after it was over I had another unfun frustrating ride back. There are just no payoff moments in the game, it’s all frustration

  37. Optimaximal says:

    One bit that did surprise me was that whilst I was on a random diamond hunt, I saw a plume of black smoke in the distance. After a brisk sprint, I saw a plane embedded into a mountain wall. Expecting to find a dead guy and a diamond case (as per most of the other abandoned cases littering the landscape), I was pretty surprised to find a as-yet-undiscovered buddy lying there in pain. Healed her and went about my way.

    Then she was killed in the assault on Mike’s bar :)

  38. Ben Abraham says:

    I agree 100% with Kieron’s take on FC2, and love that he gets it – expressing how *I* feel about it with a clarity I fail to. If you ever get round to writing that defence of the game, you’ve got one definite reader already.

  39. James Tao says:

    Before I get started here, a note. Far Cry 2 is flawed in very, very many valid ways, most of which are documented in the article itself. It’s still my game of the year. Here’s why.

    The gunfights are brilliant, but I won’t bother going to far with that argument considering people have stated it far more eloquently than I could manage. Fire adds another deliciously chaotic flavour to fights, making for some of the most unexpected, crazy moments I’ve ever had in a game. The variety of the map is outstanding, with the tropical regions around the lake in the south being particularly good.

    The calls of repetition confuse me a little. I’ve driven back and forward across both maps a huge amount, and I can honestly say I’ve not hit a guard post the same way twice. There are so many options on hitting a target, whether it’s sniping, making a ammo pile explode, setting fires, mortar, whatever, and there has to be dozens of methods I haven’t tried yet. I can’t really think of a game that’s given me a larger toolset to approach a target. I’m interested to know whether people regularly try to alter strategies to try and alleviate the sense of repetition, or whether I’ve just got an unconscious ability to filter out boredom.

    I couldn’t disagree more with the idea that the game discourages you from exploring, for reasons Keiron has stated far more neatly than I could have managed. I’ve collected all the diamond cases, OCD completionist that I am, and the game really awards you with some truly stunning vistas and areas that would likely have gone unexplored because of it. If that’s the sort of game you were after, try going that route instead of playing missions for a while. It might not be a tourist sim, but it’s not bad for an FPS.

    Of course there are negatives. Everything about the storytelling barring the truly excellent Jackal Tapes is rubbish. As Jim said, the incredibly specific psychosis directed at the main character is bizarre – that guy in the jeep just drove up to the guardpost, did a u-turn and drove away unharmed but snipers hit me the moment my supple Algerian body is within range? World building on a societal level is all over the shop. These are the ones just off the top of my head. Will it deter me from playing as much of it as I can? No, because I genuinely believe all those complaints are outweighed by what’s on offer.

  40. Jonas says:

    Mr. Pink: Oooh that reminds me to share my favourite FC2 moment:

    http://rooc.offtopicproductions.com/blog/2008/11/22/backfire/

  41. Tarn says:

    Ubisoft are currently specialising in superb, absolutely classic 5 hour games…..that they’re then stretching out to about 20-30 hours in length.

  42. Richard Beer says:

    Far Cry 2 was one of those games I picked up a few months ago that then got lost in the deluge of other games. I started it and thought “Hey this is pretty good; worth a few hours at least.” And then I dropped it for Fallout 3, L4D etc. I will go back to it, but somehow the few hours I experienced just made me think it was Far Cry and Crysis all over again, and whilst I very much enjoy running around a free-form jungle cooing at the pretty bits, I’ve done it before.

    I will definitely come back to it in the New Year, but it will be for the sheer sensual pleasure of it rather than the visceral, terrified pleasure of L4D or the bleak, apocalyptic pleasure of Fallout 3, both of which are slightly more original.

    Of course I could be wrong. First impressions and all that.

  43. SuperNashwan says:

    Far Cry 2 ultimately had too many just plain weird and self defeating design decisions in it for me. The first half finale in the bar, the malaria, the bonkers fast weapon degradation, the check point respawns, having nearly all the game be the same ‘go to here and kill everything that moves’ and so on. On top of the major issues there’s a bunch of second tier niggles like the really poor feedback for stealth play, or the way starting fires is a bad tactical choice because it uncontrollably destroys essential ammo dumps making it fun and novel but nearly useless.
    But what really killed it for me was I just couldn’t reconcile the amazingly well realised environment with the YOU ARE PLAYING A GAME game mechanics evident in the blanket npc hostility, blatant spawning, AI behaviour etc. My brain refused to stop flipflopping between playing it straight up as an arena shooter and trying to invest and believe in the world being presented to me. Highly annoying.
    I won’t deny it has some nice moments though, for me one of the highlights was wounding someone with the sniper rifle to lure out their buddy, then finishing them both. Not many games you’ll see that in.

  44. Turin Turambar says:

    I will only say this:
    Open world type of game design are a bad choice for shooters. It’s good for RPG games, RPG/Action games, Action/driving games, but a FPS like Far Cry 2? Bad choice.
    From that decision it comes some of the other problems with the game: poor variety, slow pace, inane travels, lots of generic camps, respawning enemies, lack of plausibility (where are the two factions in the game? it’s a lie, everyone if your enemy in the “real” game), etc.

  45. Turin Turambar says:

    Mmm i will extend myself a bit:
    So Ubisoft tried to make a shooter like it was a open world RPG/shooter game, but without the things that make interesting a open world RPG/shooter game (like Stalker), leaving only a FPS with some vehicles. It would be better to streamline the game to a more linear shooter if they wanted to be a pure shooter, or go for the full fledged RPG/shooter genre. And for that, they needed:
    -Worthwhile exploration. I want to explore and find npcs, quests, weapons, equipment, money, unique places, stuff like that. They had an arbitrary and generic diamond case. Bleh.
    -Less copy-pasted quests. Self-explanatory to everyone that played Far Cry 2.
    -Dynamic world. Why do you want a big open world if nothing happens in it? Like, the supposed war beween the two factions? It’s a dead empty world in Far Cry 2, except for some enemies waiting for a bullet to the head from your rifle.
    -Better AI. You can’t have more varied enemies, the game isn’t fantasy or scifi, that’s a big problem for a shooter. You are always killing generic soldiers with an AK. The only thing you can make then to give more variety to the firefights is to have a very good AI. FC2 AI was decent but insufficent.

    Is that a lot work? Yeah, RPG/shooter games are more complex than a pure shooter game.

  46. Jonas says:

    Arguably, Far Cry 2 is an action/driving game. It features lots of action and lots and lots of driving. But eh, I get your point.

  47. Larington says:

    Its the checkpoints that damaged the experience for me, such that I was rather glad about being able to rely on boat and bus travel as a way to avoid these consistent inconveniences.

    However, I still completed the game. I still enjoyed the game. I do think it could have been better however, if driving past a checkpoint without going through it didn’t trigger that damned chase the player down response every friggin’ time.

    Meanwhile, theres plenty of scripted stuff in the game, but most of its subtle.

    In general, I think the checkpoints idea could’ve been developed a bit more, though perhaps it wouldn’t fit to make them faction specific since on occasion your told that the faction your working for “doesn’t know you”.

  48. Larington says:

    I do love that story I heard about how slightly dodgy AI in one of the cease-fire zones pinned a player up against a wall and literally peed all over the players character prompting him to go on a massive killing spree (From one of the comments on this site). That one had me in hysterics for fully 20 minutes afterward.

    @Super Nashwan: Molotovs/Throwing-Fire is a great way of covering your retreat so that you can escape a situation relatively unmolested, though I confess I only did that once or twice during my play through.

  49. Wilson says:

    I haven’t played that much of Far Cry 2, simply because I found the driving/sailing around to get to places tedious. When you’re in a fight or doing a mission, it’s a great game. I don’t see why they needed to make you travel all that way yourself. The buses help, but there should be more of them. On a long journey, dynamic and unscripted fights are an irritation instead of a joy. You have to stop the car, shoot the idiots attacking you, fix the car, and carry on. There’s no sense of danger or threat when it’s only two guys in a jeep coming after you for no reason.

    I’ll probably come back to it, but that’s the main reason it’s not top of my play-list at the moment. It’s a pretty world to have to travel through, but if I want eye-candy I could look at real photos of pretty places. It shouldn’t be forced on people.

  50. phuzz says:

    **Spoilers**
    Out of interest, when I did the halfway though bar fight, I lost, badly, and all my buddies died. Is there any other outcome to this bit? Did anyone decide to go help the wickle orphans or whoever instead of their friends?