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 »

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  1. Monkeybreadman says:

    Farcry 2 was without a doubt my biggest gaming disappointment of the year. Once again Ubisoft had made a game with a whole big massive sack full of potential and then left it to waste.
    My main beef was/is the multiplayer, which EVERY fps these days should be geared towards imo. If a game is to achieve greatness that is the way to do it. The lobby system was woeful, servers used 100% of the cpu, the weapons were completely imbalanced, the damn flipping one hit kill Barret sniper rifle made me want to cry (far). To name but a few of the crippling gripes
    Such a waste, as the setting and atmosphere was truly amazing. The physics system and the map editor aswell…. gah! such a shame.

    Alot of work wasted for the lack of a little more

  2. Calabi says:

    You are sick AndrewC.

    I’ve had fun playing this. I used a rocket and didnt realise it set things on fire behind me. The rocket that I’d fired had blown up and set the grass on fire in front as well. I was panicking as the fire headed straight to me from both directions.

    The game is as boring as you play it, although I do think it needs something to break up the monotony of combat. Perhaps if they added more to the exploration, like you can kill animals to sell or find secret weapon/money caches. Incidental story details which you can discover. A tomb to raid.

  3. El_MUERkO says:

    what annoys me about far cry 2 is how close it is to being a classic, a bit of ai work (ie: make everyone not want to kill you all the time), some more variation in the missions and some more open spaces and BLAMM, GoTY

    it’s like they had a bunch of gears of war gamers test it and say ‘not enough action’ so they nicked the locust ai and then kicked it in the head a few times before jamming it into the citizens of far cry 2

  4. James Tao says:

    phuzz:

    Nah, no other outcome there, unfortunately. Wound up being a bit of a pointless decision, apart from an imaginary moral high-ground.

    Also, I saved the orphans. It seemed more reasonable to let the well-armed, well-trained mercenaries look after themselves.

  5. Mman says:

    I liked FarCry 2 a lot overall but I could pretty easily understand how the repetition issues could put people off.

    Actually it was the handling of the morals that kept coming up for me as one of my biggest issues with it; while the developers stated somewhere that that was the intention the game didn’t really do much to establish that your character was an asshole from the start (unlike, say, God of War, where things are setup to establish what a monster you are from the start, so you can just enjoy being one) so I went in expecting some degree of moral choice in the game, so I was kind of taken aback when I was suddenly drafted into doing despicable acts (after a few relatively “ordinary” missions) with no setup or say otherwise.

    Much more could be have been done with it such that it could have allowed for some of the most interesting morals in a game ever if it allowed for you to establish more about who your character is supposed to be (for fun I pretty much made up my own plot that my character had came to Africa genuinely hoping to make a difference, but then got so obsessed with hunting the Jackal that they became no better than he is, and therefore considered what must be done in the ending as “penance” after realising what they had become).

    Also, while the effects are amazing, the enemy reactions to flames are a bit weak; where’s the fun in lighting up a drug-dealing piece of shit when they just flail around a few seconds before dropping over dead?

  6. dhex says:

    has there been any mods released? specifically something that tones down the respawn rate?

    like a lot of people i got about eight hours into it and just dropped off, feeling – as with clear sky – that despite all the options and avenues for exploration that the game itself wasn’t really all that varied. it should have been just by the sheer number of options, but that’s not how it felt.

    i will probably go back to it once i’m done storm of zehir’ing.

  7. Pags says:

    Far Cry 2 went from my biggest disappointment, to GotY, back to biggest disappointment again. In it’s credit, I don’t think any other game has managed that for me before or since. Except perhaps Bioshock.

    Perhaps unfairly, I expected S.T.A.L.K.E.R in Africa; right now I still don’t see what the problem with that expectation is, as frankly that’s what Ubisoft had constantly hinted it might be. But I’m not just talking in terms of the raging NPCs who would become apoplectic at the slightest glimpse of you (though that did make me sigh heavily every time it happened); one of my main problems with the game was the actual combat. Compared to S.T.A.L.K.E.R’s obsessively detailed, inherently meaty combat (with real ballistics and everything) shooting people felt weak; I had expected, based on the impression the trailers gave, something like that final scene in the most recent Rambo where you’ve got soldiers having their limbs shorn off and that sort of thing. Instead we got stiffly animated pratfalls and cartoon blood spurts. Suffice to say I was not amused.

    The things it got right are still numerous; it’s a magnificent game world (save for those bits where it feels more like an outdoor corridoor than an open game world), with some deft touches like the physical map, the fire propagation (who actually used that word before Far Cry 2 came along?), the tension that a failing weapon adds… it’s just a shame there are so many things that stop the experience from being as magnificent as it could’ve been.

  8. qrter says:

    I actually grew to like this game a lot, while being down on it initially. I got pleasure out of deciding how to kit myself out before a mission, trying to envisionage myself as a hardened mercenary with a job to do – oh god, I almost found myself roleplaying an FPS! I’m one of those people that thoroughly enjoyed the combat in BioShock, mind you, I really loved trying different combinations of weapons and plasmids etc.

    One of my favourite things I did early on in the game was one of those weapon convoys, before I had a nice shiny rocketlauncher. I decided to park my assault truck in their path, wait beside the road and when they got close I lobbed a grenade under my car – RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! It worked beautifully. That put a big smile on my face.

    I liked the general concept of the game, the idea that everyone in this war is bad, whether you’re from the outside or not. But then there are varying greys of evilness – which do you choose to follow?

    I agree with Jim about the psychotic experience of having EVERYONE be agressive towards you – it was just ridiculous. It felt like this country was populated with clones of the mad stalker I had left behind in whatever country my chosen character was from.

    And I do think the game has a schizophrenic idea of what realism in game is supposed to be – on the one hand all these elaborate first person animations, on the other a house heaving and creaking with all the weapons you’ve bought (apparently being cloned by the same company that farm your assaillants). On the one hand you’re pulling out bullets with your teeth, on the other you’re tripping over vehicles that no one seems to own.

    Talking about unrealistic elements in the game – I really couldn’t stand the diamonds-in-briefcases thing. The little dramas Kieron describes are there and they work.. but those are only a very few. A lot of them are either very blatant (a briefcase left right beside the road, or beside a part of the river) or very game-y (the briefcase is all the way up there – but ah! See that nearby structure, and those planks..? Which brings up the utterly shitty jumping your character does, his feet hardly leave the ground..). The whole diamonds-in-briefcases thing smacked of console-y wants-to-be-an-achievement-but-isn’t.

    I also wish the Jackal had been written better, now he was this gruff-voiced, utterly boring Nietzschian dickhead, although I did like how the interplay between you and him worked out, how you’re like two cells of the same organism, symbiotic almost.

    One other thing I thought was impressive about this game – the soundtrack. A strange mix of electronic percussive tracks (think Bourne-like soundtrack) with a string quartet (and bits of twangy guitar and throaty singing/hollering). It made a nice change from the regular sound fodder you get to endure as a player.

  9. Bananaphone says:

    I wasn’t expecting Stalker, just a meaty FPS with more freedom than your average corridor shooter.

    The combat, as Pags says, was massively disappointing. It lacked any impact and looked silly.

    Various mechanics were very poorly conceived and ended up just being bloody irritating. Pressing a key to un-jam a gun or fix a car with a wrench is not fun, it is only repetitive and annoying and broke the flow of the game.

    Enough has been said about the respawning enemies. What a horrible idea.

    The AI veered between psychic and insane – following me over half the map or somehow managing to find me while I was crawling through the wilderness – to absolute dribbling moron. At one of those pointless roadblocks I came across a squad of enemies who stood with their backs to me while I pumped bullets into their skulls.

    The game world didn’t feel as alive or as free as they had promised either. We were still playing a corridor shooter, just with canyons and mountains that can’t be scaled instead of walls and a ceiling. And everyone is hostile, you’re trapped in world where every single person you meet wants nothing more than to blow your face off. There’s no option to talk or trick your way through, or ally with a faction, you’ve got no choice but to fight.

    Looking back, that early PC Gamer review was horrendous, the comparisons to Deus Ex are insulting.

    Still, at least the fire propagation was fun.

  10. Pags says:

    Weirdly qrter, I actually enjoyed the game more when I turned the music off. Not that the music wasn’t good, it just felt very ‘No Country For Old Men’-ish when I turned it off (or at least the good parts of that movie which didn’t have Tommy Lee Jones in).

    And yes, the jumping was shitty. Unless you’re Mirror’s Edge, first person games should not attempt jumping. Conversely, if you are Mirror’s Edge you should not attempt combat because it makes me want to cry every time you throw me into an unavoidable combat situation. But that’s a game rant for a different day.

  11. BooleanBob says:

    He’d had to land on another one.

    His first encounter with one of them – swift and panicked, he’d swung out a boot – had left him wretching and vomiting for a good ten minutes. His bowels had long since given up anything fluid, so his heaves were dry as sand, now, and painful. But it was still a truly mortifying experience: to feel that soft, spongy flesh – if you could call it that, for the horrid things in truth seemed more plant than animal – give easily under the weight of his feet, and the blood, the entrails, splatter out from their housing on either side like custard from a pie. This, then, was the sensation of squashing – literally, squashing – the life from a sentient creature. Killing something – by jumping on it. Sure, he’d squished bugs before, and ants – his Brooklyn apartment, wherever that was now, was riddled with the little fucks. But ants weren’t the size of a smallish dog.

    Ants weren’t the size of a baby.

    Worse still, eventually his body would find resistance, force would be met by counter-force, and, with a sickening pop, he’d actually be thrown briefly up into the air again. Bounced victoriously skyward by – as he shuddered to imagine – some gaseous sac buried deep within the creature’s bowels. And then he would be back on solid ground. Heaving. Hysterical. Drenched in viscera from the knees down.

    It wasn’t his choice. He’d had to land on another one. After that first, dreadful experience, he’d foresworn any notion of acting in self defence, and in consequence his legs now bore the half-closed bitemarks of a dozen sets of vicious teeth. But no – he wouldn’t lash out at the damn things any more. No more blood. It was simple enough to hop over them, anyway, and for some reason they’d never turn to give chase. Blinkered, lemming-like, they’d just keep charging on in whatever direction they’d come at him from, onwards, onwards. Usually off the nearest precipice.

    But that was the problem, right there. This entire fucked up world, this unwaking mycological nightmare, was just one nauseating drop after another – a teasing and seemingly endless succession of platforms, suspended inexplicably above a bottomless void. While he could haul his way across some, others needed a leap of faith. There was nothing he could do once he committed himself to the sky. And sometimes, just sometimes, something would scrabble out of some corner of darkness to meet his rapidly descending feet.

    A skittering of movement; a gnashing of teeth; a deep, protracted squelch; a pop.

    Up again, into the air. Adrenaline should have kicked in by this point, of course, but his revulsion was so ingrained, and his understanding of what (anatomically speaking) had just happened so thorough, that the focus required to make a composed landing was well beyond him. His feet met the ground awkwardly; lubricated with blood and bile, there was no way they could support his considerable bulk as it lurched forward, off-kilter; he began to fall. He fell towards the ground. But intersecting the trajectory between his head and the floor there was – for no explicable reason, and certainly by no explicable means of suspension – a brick.

    More accurately, it was actually a piece of brickwork, perfectly cubic in dimension, four layers in height; bricks of a uniformly singular hue that was a good deal more brown than one might reasonably expect brick to be. But bricks they most definitely were, and, being bricks, they were of precisely the right consistency to dash the poor man’s brains from his skull when, with tragic inevitability, momentum brought them together. It was, perhaps, the only moment of congruence with a popular understanding of physics that he’d had chance to observe since his arrival in that wild, technicolour dreamworld. Certainly, that the impact seemed to loosen a handful of coins from the entirely inextant recesses of the brickwork was not.

    Some time later one Jim Rossignol stumbled across the scene while trying to find his local Spar. He considered what he saw: the corpulent man, deceased, slumped in his red shirt stained redder still by the issue proceeding from a gaping headwound; the bricks, stained too with red and flecks of grey; the trampled and rotting pile of something with two bootprints writ large upon its… well, upon it. But he could not derive the sequence of events preceding by his examination of these clues. With no ready narrative to ascribe to the grim diorama, he declared the fruits of his exploration insipid and uninspired, and, pocketing the coins as booze-‘n’-fags money, he left.

  12. BooleanBob says:

    I should have spent this afternoon translating Faust. Instead, I have nothing to show for it but the literary stylings of a man quite positively mad.

    Thanks, RPS.

  13. Steven says:

    FC2 is not really a conventional FPS, or a conventional RPG. Sadly, the strange combination of the the two cost FC2 its soul. FC2 removed not only the interesting parts of FPS (truly cinematic setpieces, coherent, engaging story, varied combat), but also the parts of RPGs that I loved most: character interactions that involve more than missions or bullets, the ability to make choices more complicated than “should I shoot A or B first”, and varied quests with a strong backstory. Even the open and dynamic nature of the game is seriously compromised by the annoyingly predictable checkpoints, which seem to respawn as soon as you look away, even if you are only 20 meters away.

    Some people mentioned ways they play that makes the game less repetive, but that doesn’t cover up the massive game design problems in FC2. I mean, with enough imagination I can make playing with sticks in the backyard fun :P

    Also, I don’t think anybody specificly mentioned the strangely bad voice acting. Why, oh why, does everyone in the game speak with exactly the same fast tempo and bland tone? And on a related note, why, 4 years after Alyx in HL2, can’t developers other than Valve make convincing, expressive human faces?

  14. sinister agent says:

    It certainly does seem oddly fashionable to kick ubisoft around a little after they’ve dropped the ball a few times this year. Strikes me as somewhat unfair. And besides, it might make EA get all jealous and buy them out of spite.

  15. phuzz says:

    Another good bit, when you first fired a rusty RPG, only to have the grenade/rocket drop at your feet and spin round and round, hilarious and dangerous :)

    @BooleanBob
    Bob, I think you need to sit down and have a nice cup of tea mate. (inspired lunacy none the less)

  16. Paul Moloney says:

    Repetition is an odd thing; if you don’t like what is being repeated, it is bad. If you do, it is good. No-one ever complained that masturbation was bad because it was repetitive.

    I really must go back to FC2 as I would like to see how the story all pans out. I’m kinda hoping that Fallout 3 isn’t as big a game as Oblivion, otherwise that’ll be 18 months gone.

    P.

  17. Larington says:

    @phuzz: As far as I could tell, that decision had little to no impact on the events that followed.

  18. Meat Circus says:

    BooleanBob has ruined platform games for me forever, and possibly Jim Rossignol too.

    GG, Bob.

  19. Steven says:

    Repetition is an odd thing; if you don’t like what is being repeated, it is bad. If you do, it is good. No-one ever complained that masturbation was bad because it was repetitive.

    Well, I’d never describe the checkpoint encounters as “orgasmic”, but imagine if they were… Oh wait, that’d make a porno… Would that mean the checkpoints are like moneyshots?

    I also want to see how the latter part of story turns out, but I am just not motivated enough to do it again. I find it interesting that even though nothing major in the game changed, for a while, I thought the game was amazing, but the mythical 10 hour barrier quickly removed all my desire to continue playing.

  20. Saflo says:

    It’s bittersweet: my enthusiasm for everything about this game that’s amazing – the combat when it’s thrilling, the unbelievably beautiful world whose like I have never experienced in a game – is tempered when I think on (and suffer through) all awful, awful screwups, glitches, and design decisions it’s rife with. I want to grab the developers by the collar and yell at them, begging them to tell me why they wasted so much potential.

  21. BooleanBob says:

    @Meat Circus: Any similarity to Jim Rossignol(s) living or dead is entirely coincidental. My secret inspiration for the main character was Kieron, though. I’m hoping he doesn’t sue.

    @Paul Moloney: Clearly you’ve never masturbated until the repetition made you want to complain about it. Unless you’re speaking metaphorically; stroking one’s own ego is probably the single activity that could be performed unceasingly for all time without ever getting stale.

  22. Sam C says:

    What I thought would be interesting is if they added a factional battle element to it, where the guard posts would change hands between the different factions, with a constant battle going on in the countryside. You could capture the guard posts yourself and choose which faction would gain control of it, a la Pirates.
    They’d also have to give you sort of a reputation system, so giving a faction guard posts, killing the other faction, and doing missions for them would raise your reputation, so once you reached a certain point, the guard posts controlled by the friendly faction would be friendly, and might even help you out in firefights.
    You could still choose to play it like it is now, just shooting everyone, and they will all stay hostile, or you could even play both sides, your loyalties and the faction that shoots at you changing as you play the game. But it could give you a lot more meaningful choices. Probably a lot to balance, but in my head, it sounds like more fun, like it would add more to the existing game.

  23. Eli Just says:

    I think I’m going to pick this back up. It’s just so oppressive, with all the shadows and enemies and blood and dirt, it just doesn’t seem like a place I want to go back to when I can play GTA IV. I actually am having the same problem with STALKER. I really want to play it though, I just wish that the other mercs didn’t always attack you. One thing it should learn from GTA is civilians, maybe with areas of rabid hatred like military bases. Whatever game is the next step that Ubi makes, I hope they fix that, then the game will be AMAZING!

  24. Mike Arthur says:

    Meh, I think most of you are being way too negative on Far Cry 2. I think the problem is that RPS is full of RPG-monkeys (of which I am one) who love Deus Ex and STALKER a bit too much. Deus Ex was a great game and is probably still my favourite of all time but basically half of you are just complaining that Far Cry 2 doesn’t have enough friendly NPCs and there is “too much action”.

    It’s an action FPS, what did you expect? It doesn’t ever try to be an RPG so calm down and just play it for what it is. You don’t hear people bashing Quake for not having enough character interaction. I think if this had been another corridor-fest then people would have been a lot more forgiving and whinged a lot less.

    Besides, you want to avoid fighting people constantly, just take the boat more. If you want to avoid non-setpiece missions, don’t take the side quests.

    If people are interested in my further opinions, I wrote a shortish review on my blog.

  25. eyemessiah says:

    For me FC2 was a disappointment because it turned some of the best executed violence I have seen in a long while into a slog comparable to multi-continent, multi-bird travel in WOW. In a linear shooter the combat adds to a sequence of objectives clicking into place, triggering dramatic handcrafted plot points.

    In FC2 combat is reduced a chore that slows you down when all you want to do is travel from point A to point B.

    At some abstract level, yes, the “mission” combat and the “travel” combat boil down to doing the same thing, but in practice one feels more important than the other imho. I think this fact is inescapable. I’m not sure that procedural content will ever match up to scripted content.

    Maybe for an MMO where players are practically starved for content, but in an good FPS where you are used to being fed drama at regular intervals it inevitably feels like an inferior experience.

    Personally I’m still not convinced by the whole open world sand-box thing. Publishers of literature don’t salivate at the thought of randomly generated generic novels, and I suspect that the publishers of games will learn this lesson too eventually.

  26. Wedge says:

    I dropped the game after 5-6 hours each on two attempts to play. It was painfully bad to me. It sounds ridiculous to me so many people are trying to excuse it here by saying it compares favourably to a normal run and gun FPS as opposed to an open-world RPG. However that’s not really fair to say either. A normal FPS game has two things this doesn’t. That being linear progressive level design, and killing enemies actually gaining you progress though the levels.

    Far Cry 2 was generally severely lacking in any kind of interesting level layout, short of a few larger areas with lots of buildings. As an “open” FPS it was miserable, because all the enemies were stuck in their tiny little predefined spawn points. And while the combat COULD be made interesting if you really wanted to try, there was no compelling reason for me to do so. Why? Because of the other reason you can’t compare it to a normal FPS.

    Killing non-mission enemies grants you no tangible progress. They’ll just be back within a matter of minutes, so there’s no reason to do anything but avoid them. Which just lead to boring traveling instead. Obviously all a result of the open world design, and also why I could find no justification for the open world to exist. Absolutely everything about it made the game a chore to play instead of adding anything positive.

    So if you insist on comparing it to an average FPS then fine. It would have solid combat marred with level design that forces you to backtrack constantly through the same respawning enemy hubs, or alternatively take long boring empty hallways around them. Just imagine the game as a Doom/Quake era FPS with african landscape turned into flat hallways and walls and level design that makes you run back and forth over the one map collecting keys to unlock the next door. Is it really any good compared to a standard FPS then?

  27. Saflo says:

    @ Mike Arthur:

    It’s not that there is “too much action”, just so much action that is similar and does not give the feeling of progression. For every outstanding, nerve-racking assault on an occupied fort or weapons convoy, there are five little skirmishes with men in jeeps you’ve effectively killed several times already. As for it not having enough friendly (or at least non-homicidal) NPCs, that’s entirely the case. Far Cry 2 would almost certainly be a better game if the entire country behaved like the cease-fire town: a tense, uncomfortable place where the threat of violence builds atmosphere, rather than a place where constant violence wears on your patience.

  28. Marcin says:

    24 hours into the game, and apparently at around 30% completion. Still loving every minute of it. It’s something I was hoping for from Valve’s Half-Life 2; they redefined the shooter originally with fantastic, unpredictable scripted events and I was hoping for another genre revolution in the sequel.

    I *hope* that Far Cry 2 will be remembered as the next Half-Life; the game that took the corridor-based, triggered encounter approach and turned it entirely on its head. But judging by the complaints, probably not :P

  29. Larington says:

    @Mike Arthur: Yeah, I think you’re right to point out we are being too hard on FC2 for being ‘merely’ an action shooter. I’m still convinced that, check point foibles aside, FC2 is a solid if not good game.

    One person has tried to liken it to an MMO which is an interesting thought. Thing is though, despite playing several I still haven’t gotten a character to max level in an MMORPG* (Out of WoW (level 52 2 months after release and gave up out of boredom), Age of Conan (Got to level 79 before boredom killed it for me) & Lord of the Rings Online (Umm, several characters admittedly but none above or near level 50)) Meanwhile I did get to the end of FC2, and I enjoyed doing so. Of course, the big difference between an MMO and FC2, is that when you get to the end in an MMO theres always supposed to be something more, endgame content or some rubbish that basically translates to “we don’t want to lose our hardcore subscribers”, whereas when FC2 ends, it at least, does exactly that.

    In any case, I’d regard our desperate wish that FC2 was more an RPG as a form of subconcious outcry that, if voiced, would sound like:

    “Give us more meaningful RPGs like Deus Ex, Planescape Torment and Anachronox, FFS!”

    EDIT: Also, progression in an MMO is different, its easy to know you’re making progress in an MMO, by your level. Normally in shooting games progression is indicated by each baddy killed as much as by level/mission progress. This is the area where FC2 does fall down especially when fighting fast respawning checkpoints, but I found the combat itself enjoyable enough that I could overlook this.

    *Though I did get a BR 20 CR5 character in Planetside, an MMOFPS, can’t remember if I got him to BR 25 after they put the max up or if I was too busy playing my alt chars.

  30. john t says:

    I started out completely loving Far Cry and somewhere around Map 2, I just gave up on it. I’d seen everything it had to offer and was just totally bored. The pacing sucked. It was one nearly identical mission after another and I was just bored with it.

  31. john t says:

    If Far Cry had been a coherent 10 or 15 hour story on a single map, I would have loved it. It was just far, far too much filler.

  32. Monchberter says:

    Played it. Enjoyed it despite its faults and general feeling of half-baked (the inability to change the volume of the music relative to the game sounds just made me turn off the former). Felt like a holiday if you get my drift, no other game’s setting (save Crysis’s more contemplative moments) has taken me ‘somewhere’ so convincingly. Ok, so the illusion shattered once the human ai came on screen but the amount of visual polish and attention to (insignificant) detail is astounding.

    All in all, another shooter primarily pitched for the console crowd before the PC that needed six more months and a Crytek / Valve consultancy job to get it fulfilling its potential as a seriously top drawer classic.

  33. Monchberter says:

    Oh, and personally i thought the ending was surprisingly mature.

    Shame it made the game feel like a sandwich made of meaty FPS between two slices of cod-literate sociopolitical commentary.

  34. Jochen Scheisse says:

    TC*;DR

    *convoluted

  35. The Shed says:

    Exactly as Switch625 said. To keep Far Cry 2 entertaining, you , as a gamer, have to do a little work to keep it fresh. If you take an AK47, Makarov, and RPG on every single fight in the game, it’s gonna get boring fast, even if you keep looking for new tactical approaches. The difference in gameplay between taking a Sniper Rifle and a Silenced pistol on your back against a Shotgun and a Mac 10 are just astounding, it’s up to YOU to mix it up a bit.

    Far Cry 2 needs YOU (to be fun and fresh).

    I must personally be about 4-5 hours into it, I didn’t even know there was a second map until I read this article. That sounds good. Need to play the game more, but PS2 and writing is just so much easier than Xbox 360…

  36. MeestaNob! says:

    Kieron’s final paragraph made me think of Outcast for some reason. I wish that game would come back.

  37. Larington says:

    Yeah, one thing I definately liked was the ending, it was a nice full stop on the journey as a whole and a convincing one at that.

  38. malkav11 says:

    I think it would be difficult to mod the respawning because of *why* the respawning occurs. Simply put – the moment the game unloads that area from memory, state changes in that area are no longer tracked and when you go back in, it loads the area fresh and new with everything back the way it was. How do you propose modders change that?

  39. Ben Jones says:

    Come on guys, whatever your criticisms – and everyone has a few at least – this was a big, important game. Any FPS that does something different but is still big fun to play has to be applauded.

    And yet, what might have been…. The instant hostility was only half the problem for me. The other half, which I have seen mentioned too widely, is that in a supposedly war-torn country, all anyone’s interested in doing is f***ing the player up. How much cooler would it have been to crash through a checkpoint while the two factions were actually fighting over it? Or trying to escape after a mission during a firefight?

    The important thing is how it’ll be remembered a couple of years down the line – the first fully open-ended FPS, with some wicked combat to boot.

    Oh and Jim, it was just as easy to get about by boat on the first map. Not sure where you’re coming from there….

  40. Lh'owon says:

    Loved Far Cry 2 to bits.

    I would post more, but I am tires and need my gravatar thing for something. Er, yes.

  41. Flappybat says:

    I agree with Meat Circus although I don’t think I find it as boring as he does. It’s a nice game but really it feels like an MMOFPS. The mission sequences are a bit weak and unengaging, you’re constantly hounded by annoying mob style enemies, lots of repetition…

    It’s got a lot of interesting new things but it’s basic shooter aspects seem to have gotten mangled. I think it’s overrated.

  42. de Selby says:

    “You are actually fired, not joking this time – Ed”

    I wish you the best of luck in finding a new job Jim.

  43. Jhoosier says:

    I just started playing this a couple days ago (12% done), and I have the same problems with it as everyone else. I was hoping to find a mod to change the respawn, but malkav11’s got a good point as to why it won’t work. Boo.

    On the plus side, this game is just awesomely beautiful on a big screen and the settings turned up. And running over gnus in a dune buggy. Can’t forget that. Just echoing everyone else, this is a game that, despite its problems, I’m going to have very fond memories of.

  44. Requiem says:

    I’ve just finished FC2 and it’s my favourite game of 2008. Yes it has problems namely the respawning which hinders any sense of accomplishment. The generic ammo, unlimited copies of bought guns, and magically transporter enabled storage crates remove a much needed strategic element. The plot is far too convoluted for it’s own good. Maybe not compared to other games but all that was really needed was just your initial brief to kill the Jackal. Repetition is definately in the hands of the player. But for all it’s flaws FC2 engrossed me in ways many a recent release like Clear Sky or Crysis & Warhead failed to do.

    @ Meat Circus if anything FC2 has too many Valvesque set pieces, they don’t really fit at all with the style of the game.

    Far Cry 2 reminds me most of playing JA2, if only FC2 had been squad based.

  45. Paul Emil says:

    Heh. The best thing that happend to me in FC2 was when driving along, minding my own business, then suddenly crashing into a cow that had decided to take a rest in the middle of the road. Or mabye it was when I had just bought and equipped an M79, immediately blowing up two passing idiots in a 4×4. Fun. Or just starting lots of fires around a guard post and watching them burn. And burning to death from the fire caused by the backblast from my rocket launcher :P . The only showstoppers so far have been the constant memory leaks I get. Turning off shadows seems to give the most performance gain on my (frankly) feeble system (AMD Athlon 64 3400+ @ 2.4GHz, X1950 Pro AGP, 1GB DDR).