Another Life, Another Time: Far Cry 2 Revisited

By Alec Meer on February 14th, 2014 at 5:00 pm.

From: Alec Meer,
Brighton,
February 2014

To: Alec Meer,
Bath,
October 2008

Hey kid,

Hah, I’ve probably pissed you off already, haven’t I? That was easily done back then, as I recall. Yeah, yeah, you’re no kid – right now, every one of your twenty-nine years feels like a scar. It’s been a bad year, even by your standards. You’re burning to up and leave this fusty old town you’ve spent the last eight years in, but you feel so tired, so broken, so bitter. You’re also about to sit down with Far Cry 2, and you’re not going to like it. Everything’s going to change in time, including how you feel about that game.

You did move to London (didn’t stay long, but for a good reason, not a bad one), that RPS thing took off so you’re no longer a slave to corporations, and hell, you’ve even got a baby daughter now. I won’t spoil that surprise further. And don’t worry, Ripley the cat’s still going strong. None of that’s what I’m writing to you about, though. Any day now, you’re going to sit down with Far Cry 2. You’re curious but concerned about it. It’s looked great in videos, you’ve thought, but it seems wrong that it’s not made by the developers of the first game, which you’re very fond of despite that crap with the mutant monkey things.

You don’t know that Far Cry 2 will prove divisive, that there’ll be a small but passionate group of fans against a larger, angrier horde who feel it’s a disaster and a betrayal. You don’t know that you’re going to fall in with the latter, though I’m glad to say that you weren’t particularly noisy about it. Though you did openly scoff at friends who enjoyed it. That wasn’t cool, kid. (I’ve never called anyone ‘kid’ in my life, and neither will you, which is exactly why I keep calling you it).

You are going to hate Far Cry 2. I’m not here to tell you that you’ll be wrong, and I’m certainly not suggesting you don’t play it for another six years. Honestly, I think a big part of the reason I like it now is because I didn’t like it then. It’s because I’m coming back to it aware of what I felt for it then, and how different things are now.

I can feel you wincing from here. Don’t worry, I’m not so old and lazy that I’m going to bust out some strained ‘like a fine whisky, it improves with age’ analogy. It doesn’t: it’s the same game in 2014 that it was in 2008, and technology hasn’t moved on enough for it to feel meaningfully dated.  It could have been released today (that day being Thursday 13th February 2014; yes, that means we’re going to be 35 years old in a fortnight. Don’t worry, we’re cool about it) and, if it didn’t have ‘Far Cry’ in the name, I’m quite sure it would have received a rapturous response from the kind of people it was made for.

You, though. We, though. Me, though. I think we’ve improved a little with age. Oh God, we’re still imperfect and quick-to-judge and tired, but my mind inquires a little further before it snaps to an opinion. It has more patience. It’s more easily able to see what a videogame is trying to do at its core, rather than full-force snarl and sneer  at what it might get wrong on the surface.

Hah, I’m being a little too kind to myself there. My brain has not undergone such change and critical epiphany that I can see design and subtext that my younger eyes could not. I’m a bit more patient, that’s all. Even so, perhaps a bigger part of my changed response to this strange, morally ugly, unusually punitive shooter is my expectations are all gone. Whatever ‘Far Cry’ once meant to me, it doesn’t any more. Oh kid, you just wait until Far Cry 3. And you wouldn’t believe me if I showed you a video of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. I won’t tell you how you’re going to feel about that (because for all I know, 2020 me is penning me a letter about it right now), but yeah, ‘Far Cry’ ceases to be a reliable definition of anything.

Perhaps, for others, ‘Far Cry’ is still a promise that was repeatedly broken. To me, its being a looser concept is freeing: when I revisited Far Cry 2 this week, I wasn’t playing a ‘Far Cry’ game as such. I was playing a game that I knew enough people I respected were fond of even though received wisdom – including my own – was that it was awful.

I know exactly what you’re thinking, and you’re right to. I’m worried about it too. Maybe I did treat Far Cry 2 differently because, on some lower, needier level, I wanted to impress those people. ‘Look, hey, I get it too! Look how smart I am! I’m not moaning about voice-acting and respawn times! I can see the design, guys!’

The reason I don’t think that’s what’s going on is that my paranoia – sorry, we don’t change there – tells me the response to my new insight would be to think me slow and silly, taking six years to clock what everyone else worked out back in your time. And so in that, too, I am freed: I realise and believe that I am now enjoying Far Cry 2 only because I am now enjoying Far Cry 2.

So. Why? The main thing for me is that I’ve approached it in a completely different state of mind. I wonder whether you could do that, if you tried. I know you were perfectly happy with STALKER back then, so I guess it’s possible. I’m just not sure you can really get past what you’re expecting this to be: a brash mayhem sandbox, big fights with an Arnie tone and a strong note of joy and indulgence. Man make boom! The way you feel right now, that’s something you want/need, as much as it is something you expect from ‘Far Cry.’

This is the thing: you have to go into Far Cry 2 braced for ugliness. Not the graphics, they still look great, and the dirt and ruin and danger of Africa even seems stronger now than it did at the time. I mean ugly in feel. It goes to such efforts here, to be ugly, to make you feel ugly. Kills are unpleasant. People are unpleasant. The situation is unpleasant. You are unpleasant. Every human structure in this place is unpleasant. Every human in this place is unpleasant. Nothing works properly. No-one likes anyone else, not really.

And Christ, the places you go in the hope of resting and recuperating. They look like places you’d go to die. Appropriate, as death is what you bring. You kill because killing is what is done here, not because you’ve come to play hero. There is no glory to be had. You push forwards, taking lives and finding new ways to take lives, because…

Well, because you’ve become a mercenary. Because it’s your job. We don’t ask that question of most shooters (although you’ll be fascinated to see the response, including your own, to BioShock 3). Most don’t have a good reason. Here, you’re doing it to be part of this terrible place’s economy. You profit from taking the lives you’re told to take, but more than that people further up the foodchain profit from it, from the perpetuation of bloodshed and bullets. The place, this Africa, doesn’t profit. Everything you do just makes it worse. It was only once I understood this that I could enjoy Far Cry 2. No, enjoy is wrong. Appreciate sounds snobbish. ‘Give myself to it’ may be better, but sounds overblown. Nope, sorry kid, writing doesn’t seem any easier eight years on.

When you play Far Cry 2 a few days or weeks from now, you’ll be trying to make jeeps explode and fight six people at once, and hare about the place like GTA in the Savannah. That’s fine, that’s OK, that’s how it goes. It just means you’re not going to like it, because it just doesn’t work well that way. It’s OK to not like it, but maybe – and maybe this is the reason I’m telling you all this – maybe you shouldn’t go around shouting or posting nasty editorials that it’s awful and a disaster and the people who like it are too easily-pleased.

I’m relieved that you didn’t do that in the end, at least not that much, but perhaps that’s only because I sent you this letter. If I hadn’t sent you this letter, you’d have been a right little arsehole, you’d never have taken onboard at least some of what others said about the game, you wouldn’t have even considered revisiting it later, and you’d never have written this letter. Heh. Timey-wimey.

When I/you/we played Far Cry 2 again, we did it differently. We played it focused on survival. We didn’t pursue big showdowns and multi-car pile-ups. We played on Hardcore difficulty, so that more than a couple of shots meant death. So that we were frail and cowardly. So that we jumped out of our skin when we heard the sound of an approaching engine, so that the bark of an enemy who’d seen movement was a spur to run and hide, not run and engage.

Oh, sure, I still saw the all-over-the-place AI, I still saw that the game’s stealth systems are barely there, I still saw the gaping logic-vacuum around the respawning guards at checkpoints, and yeah, I still struggled with the way all the voice actors sound like they’re trying to spurt it all out before they miss their bus home. I still saw that Far Cry 2 is odd, and that the fealty it swears to conceptual ugliness is not even slightly matched by its efforts in surface-level polish.

Shining through all of that, and what you won’t get when you play it very soon, is that I’m roleplaying as a desperate man. I believe I’m going to die at any minute – someone’s going to shoot me, or run over me, or the malaria I’ve contracted will finally get the better of me. Mostly the shooting, though. These people, these men with their guns, they know their land well enough to recognise when a threat is approaching. They can see me from a mile off*, they’re not fooled one bit by my attempts to hide, and they don’t seem to suffer the chronic ammo shortages that I do.

Fights never quite go how I expect. Clips are emptied with terrifying speed, guns jam, health bars empty in an instant, pursuit never stops. It’s brutal and it’s chaotic. Sure, I can plan to some degree, but come the moment it’s so fraught and unforgiving, and that means each skirmish feels truly life or death, not perfunctory or formulaic. The sound of bullets is oppressive rather than inviting, and I lunge and scrabble to cover that buys me seconds, not safety. Death watches all the while, and even when I can’t feel his cold breath on my neck, travelling great distances across this murderous Africa’s unsettling empty terrain feels like a long walk to doom. I’m roleplaying as a condemned man, and that means I’m experiencing something I very rarely do: a first-person shooter making me feel something, or feel like something. Something other. Something ugly.

That won’t happen for you. You won’t let Far Cry 2 sink through your skin, down through muscle and into bone until its feverish grubbiness gets to you. You won’t let it make you feel like it’s trying to make you feel, because you’re too outraged that it immediately seems rough around the edges, and most of all that it won’t seem to let you have a good time. You’ll look at it and you’ll complain.

That’s fine! You’ve made a living out of complaining, after all. Somehow, we’re still doing it. Don’t stop now. Please, hate Far Cry 2 as much as you want to. Just… just don’t embarrass us, OK?

Must go, anyway. There’s this boy I’ve got to talk out of buying Rise of the Robots.

all my love,

Alec

PS – don’t throw away that Sidewinder joystick when you move house, you’ll really regret it when you suddenly feel like replaying Descent yesterday.

* Yet, I must admit, they do so struggle more with finding me when I’m right next to them:

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142 Comments »

  1. DatonKallandor says:

    “PS – don’t throw away that Sidewinder joystick when you move house, you’ll really regret it when you suddenly feel like replaying Descent yesterday.”
    If it was the good Sidewinder – the Sidewinder 3D Pro, greatest consumer Joystick ever made – you were probably out of luck anyway. That God Among Joysticks wasn’t USB yet, so you better have a dedicated soundcard with a joystick port.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      You can buy an adapter for a few pounds though, I have the same issue with my Sidewinder steering wheel. Not really a problem.

  2. A-Scale says:

    So pleased to see this article. FC2 remains a masterpiece. It achieved great things in terms of setting and interweaving gameplay with story. Many critiques are justified, but bloody hell was it a unique and enjoyable experience.

    • noxteryn says:

      Hell yes. I particularly loved the fact that you had to hold your map in your physical in-game hand, instead of opening an immersive-breaking menu screen. I also loved the GPS in the vehicles, and the fact that you had to drive while holding the map across your lap. I’m really surprised other games haven’t done this. The traditional HUD and minimap is a very archaic system. I also liked the fact that you had a buddy pick you up and drag you away, instead of just magically respawning.

      • malkav11 says:

        I’m a little surprised that other people haven’t done it to speak of, but I’m certainly not surprised that it hasn’t been widely adopted. HUDs and minimaps aren’t archaic, they’re user-friendly. Far Cry 2 is a user-hostile game, and deliberately so. And there’s a place for that, but it isn’t ever going to be the default.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Mini-maps represent your in game character’s ability to remember the lay of the land, as they familiarize themselves with it. So you don’t have to. Looked at in this way, its not so much immersion breaking, as game enhancing.

          That said, I think there is a time and place, now and then, for a character who does not have a perfect memory for maps and locations. And I think it fit FC2 well. You’re a mercenary with malaria struggling to survive in perhaps one of the most hostile environs ever seen in a game. So yeah…memory could get a little fuzzy.

          Now, if only a mod existed to make the malaria attacks much less frequent…the game might be playable.

        • Premium User Badge

          VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          The downside of minimaps as they are so often used is that they become a more immediate, more informative source of information about the game than the rest of the screen—where enemies are, which way they’re looking, if they’re alerted to your presence, and so on. Because so much information gets crammed into them, you can often end up simply “playing the minimap”.

          A minimap that just shows you the lay of the land for navigational purposes is fine. And, I should point out, Far Cry 2 had just such a minimap in every car’s GPS.

    • stkaye says:

      It’s proof of just how out of touch I am that I thought the general critical consensus around FC2 was pretty positive! That’s certainly what I believed up until reading this piece, anyway. It’s very weird to me that anybody could really believe that FC2 isn’t the best game in the series. The scale of its ambition, its sense of place and detail, its atmosphere and tension, its moral relativism and literary pretensions, the crunchiness of its combat and the variety of possible outcomes… it’s a hell of a game. And that’s coming from someone who was never particularly good at actually playing it.

      Would be nice to be able to drive past a checkpoint without fearing for my life, though. Just once.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        I got FC2 by trading a kid for the first Mass Effect (I don’t wanna talk about it) and I think that’s probably what sucked any of the fun out of it for me. Everyone in africa is immortal and hates you. Woo.

        I really could have gotten into a LOT of the other systems they had in place, loved the best buds system, loved the fixing a busted up car with a wrench, loved the physical map. But the AI was so bad as to make it unenjoyable for me. It’s a shame because it seems like something that a single patch could have taken care of and made this a strong contender for best FarCry

  3. ssbowers says:

    FC2 is by far my fav FC. 1 was neat, 3 unfinishable. That’s a word now. I loved being able to just cruise around, pick a fight, steal a car, with controls that responded.

    • Stevostin says:

      I finished all 3. Apart from that, agreed. FC1 was an empty shell. FC3 was a decent attempt at making it better, and it was, still empty, but at least self concious. FC2 is a completely different league. It’s a very bold game, with excellent gunfights. It also looks way better than FC3.

      One tip: cut the music, let the sound. Sound is amazing in that game.

      • Sacarathe says:

        An empty shell? Excuse me but there can be no comparison between the excellence of Farcry 1 (assuming it was played first and on pc) and the utter rubbish that is farcry 2, now if it was called ANYTHING ELSE it might be ok.

        I have completed FC1 and FC 2, halfway into FC3 atm.

      • Premium User Badge

        VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        The music is great too, but most of it doesn’t get a chance to shine what with the combat tracks playing most of the time. Dig out the soundtrack (by Marc Canham) and give it a listen.

      • 7vincent7black7 says:

        My only concern with Far Cry 3 is rooted in Ubisoft’s inherent ability to love to put their characters into sad and terrible situations.

        Ending 1: You choose that you can’t kill your friends, you don’t exactly like who you are becoming, and all the enemies are dead so you are leaving, right?

        Not if your new best friend who has been by your side all the way has anything to say about it. He will get offended and try to kill you saying, “How dare you try to leave our queen/princess/thing?!” After which he gets stabbed adn dies.

        I really liked that guy.

        Ending 2: You decide it’s a good idea to kill the friends you spent this whole time trying to save, and in an awkward adn fully-detailed, disturbed way. After watching your friends bleed out, you then get with the Princess and impregnate her quickly so she can finish off her night by taking your own blade and putting it through your **** heart. -_-

        Thus ends the other ending.

        I prefer ending 1 because it has that emotional cutscene of the Main Character suddenly talking how he’s got anger issues and doesn’t wanna be a killer, and want’s to be better from now on.

        I pretty much loved everything else in the game Far Cry 2 though. :3

    • witzkawumme (wkw) says:

      for me fc2 was “unfinishable”: fucking respawning ai at every checkpoint driving across the whole map OVER and OVER again. But I played fc2 in 2011 or 2012 so back when it originally was released that was probably a bit different.
      finished fc3 quite fast, although it also tended to drag on in a certain way

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      Jalan says:

      With the state Crytek left the first Far Cry in, I have a hard time believing everyone loved it as much as they claimed. When the enemies can pick you off a yard away WHILE YOU’RE INSIDE A TENT then something’s horribly broken (and not just those damned Trigens).

      • Sacarathe says:

        Well it was possible to finish it on the hardest difficulty so it cannot have been that bad, I have nothing but fond memories of 5 play throughs.

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        drewski says:

        Yeah, I don’t really get the FC1 adoration either. It was good, but it wasn’t great.

  4. Cooper says:

    I met the game-breaking bug where you walk into one of those mission hubs in the town and it doesn;t load the next mission.

    Apprently there are two whole new maps I haven’t seen. But I saw enough. Endlessly spawning idiots who throw themselves at you just get annoying.

    FarCry 2 was the worst of both worlds. Enemies throwing themselves at you constantly like a corridor shooter but lacking the careful pacing good corridor shooters can have. FarCry2 required you to be on high alert at all times; it was near exhausting. Only rarely would areas allow you the space and time to properly scout and develop a plan to engage like FarCry one did. And the openworld-ish nature immediately became dissonant when it was very clear your actions had zero effect upon the world. Everything reset to zero the moment you left an area.

    • Dinger says:

      The nihilism was only boosted by the fact it had to be playable on the Xbox 360 in the early days. So it had to be playable on something without a hard drive, something that would have small savegame files. Therefore, respawning bad guys. An open world environment only works if your actions matter: whether that’s by canned events or by scarring the terrain, I don’t care. But when the missions are dull, something breaks where I need to do something to advance past the first stage of the game, but I don’t know what it is, and lives are so meaningless that they’re replaced so fast, there’s no point in fighting or sneaking, I come very quickly to the point of asking “Why bother?”

  5. onodera says:

    I can’t believe how brown Far Cry 2 was. I know a war-torn African country is not a cheery place, but even the sky is brownish blue.

    Oh, sorry, f.lux was on, my bad. But it’s still brown enough.

    • jorygriffis says:

      I usually don’t like the look of brown games, but Far Cry 2 is definitely the exception (and maybe the first Quake.) I’m amazed with how gloriously, splendidly designed the game’s brownness is. As you said, the sky inherits the brown of the earth, as does the game’s murky, shadowy, gorgeous brown water.

    • KenTWOu says:

      That’s why you need to use this mod.

      • Wedge says:

        Yeah it’s amazing what a light touch of contrast and saturation can do to a lot of games.

  6. InternetBatman says:

    I respect Far Cry 2, but I do not like it. The infinitely respawning checkpoints are a bad mechanic. The malaria is a tedious mechanic. The non-reactive narrative doesn’t fit the nature of gameplay; it’s complete removal of personal agency stands in stark contrast to the character’s free movements around the country.

    There is something about the game that digs deep into you though. I think it’s really the incredible gunplay, the experience of creeping through beautiful jungles, the rare occasions when you see wildlife.

    • derbefrier says:

      I have to agree with batman here. I tried so hard to get into but these things prevented that. Also as I was typing this my Titanfall beta key arrived so Woooooo!!

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah I agree with this as well, I loved it at the start, felt like it was going to be epic, but it soon devolved into – Drive here, kill checkpoint for the nth time, complete quest, drive back, rinse repeat. Got boring fast even though the gunplay was fun and the vehicles handled nicely.

    • Geebs says:

      Yup. As soon as the endlessly respawning heavy trucks appeared and started blowing up my car every 50 yards, I just couldn’t be bothered any more. Such a disappointment, the game could otherwise have been great.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        I think this is quite interesting from the point made further down in the comments (and indeed in Alec’s article) that your mindset going in affects your experience of a game.

        My experience of Far Cry 2, like many sandbox type games, is that they present me with problems to be solved, experiments and explorations to be made. That could be a mission, with its obviously bounded limits and challenges, or it could be what goes on in the wider game world. To me, the endless trucks were a problem to be solved, and each one let me try a new solution. This one, I will accelerate ahead, do a handbrake turn behind that rock, jump out and chuck a grenade. This one, I am going to stop the car in this narrow part of the road. They can’t get past. Now I can pick them off with my AK from the cover of my vehicle’s bonnet. This one, shit – they blew up my car. But here comes his buddy – I’ll run out and attract his attention, hide behind a tree when he tries to ram me, then kill the buggers and steal their vehicle. This one – oh look. I have a grenade launcher now. Awesome. So If they stopped coming, it would have deprived me of that basic mechanic, the sandbox fun of finding creative ways to manage what the game came up with.

        • Geebs says:

          It was fine up to a point; and I really liked the general grubbiness of the setting and thought that a lot of the gunplay was fun. I even managed to put up with the malaria without losing my suspension of disbelief. Similarly, I love Deus Ex, Stalker and the first couple of CoDs (you know, the good ones) and so a bit of free-form base clearing / urban warfare is fine by me.

          I still couldn’t bear the patrols, to the point at which I started taking the bus everywhere to prevent me just losing the will to live. It was just so stupid that everybody hated my character, even the people I was actually working for! Then you had that idiotic thing when your car was a flaming wreck, so you got the wrench out and gave it a couple of turns – good as new! Then five seconds later another bunch of guys came and blew it up again.

          I’m totally going to try that mod mentioned in the thread though :-)

          Edit: goddamn it, I just spoiled the ending for myself and it’s SO damn STUPID that I’m not going to bother after all. Balls.

    • jorygriffis says:

      I adore the game, but yeah, the respawning checkpoints are a bit of a bummer. I read Clint Hocking say somewhere that there was progress on a more elaborate system, but that the more-or-less instant respawns were a last-minute compromise.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Far Cry 2 is filled with unpleasant, bad mechanics. Most of which they’ve admitted they knew about by beta, but just couldn’t manage to get around to fixing. But it just sucks. It’s a dismal, awful failure, in part because it could’ve been good. It could’ve been a contenda!

      Using your imagination to paper over poor design is not a testament to a game’s quality. You can do that for almost any bad game, if you have enough imagination.

    • Necroscope says:

      I used river boats rather than jeeps to travel. Travelling places is easier without respawning checkpoints

  7. DrDean says:

    A lot of Far Cry 2 is severely broken, but I was one of the few that loved the game when it came out and I still love it. It reminded me a lot of Boiling Point: Road to Hell (which was also a severely broken game that had cool mechanics). I am cautious to recommend it to people today, but it still has quite a lot of value in its design today and I personally get a lot out of it that I didn’t get from Far Cry 3.

    The multiplayer was also amazing back in the day, mainly with the level editor.

  8. Low Life says:

    I’m going to properly play FC2 this year. Not yet, but before the end of the year. I was actually thinking of taking part in one of those 24-hour charity stream events playing this, and I’m pretty sure playing the game for 24 hours would only strengthen the tone the game’s going for.

    Here’s an interview with the lead designer of the game, Clint Hocking.

  9. hypercrisis says:

    One thing stopped FC2 from achieving its true potential: no modding.

    It was like being stuck in vanilla STALKER, seeing how very easily the game could have been improved, and how its appeal could have truly shone, and being unable to do anything but watch it drown into obscurity.

    The community was insanely creative with the map making by the way, my personal favourites being the maze maps where players had to work together to navigate the level and puzzles that involved following clues to exploit engine bugs. Bloody good fun.

  10. Grey_Ghost says:

    I would still be playing this one every now an then if it wasn’t for the constant grinding of the same damn checkpoints.

  11. Pop says:

    I still can’t forgive the game for the guy in the island with the mortar. Or endlessly being run over out of the blue. But I’m certainly not going back to the game until they patch that guy away. Or nerf his x-ray/infrared, see straight through thick jungle foliage vision.

  12. GallonOfAlan says:

    I loved FC2 when I played it on the 360, despite all its flaws.

    When I played it again last year on PC, with that uber-patch that fixes a lot of the flaws and balancing, and WSAD-mouse, I loved it even more.

    Its evocation of a dirty war on the burnt plains of Africa is fantastic.

  13. Tom Servo says:

    Except for the respawning checkpoints, this was a great game. Guns jamming are something that happens in real life, and playing with fire is endless fun. I would start with a plan to set the ground ablaze and then the wind sometimes would shift and blow my fire right back on me, this game does things like that well that no other game has done since. Haven’t got around to playing the third yet, damn backlog!

    • Blackcompany says:

      My grandfather, father and I shot a lot of guns for a lot of years. And I mean something like 25 years. Or guns. Or both. Shotguns, pistols. Semi-autos. Revolvers.

      Guess how many times I have seen a gun jam?

      That’s right. Never. So while it does happen, the whole decaying/wearing out/jamming gun mechanic in games is seriously annoying. Over the course of 25 years I have never seen a single gun jam. Ever. And yet, in games I can play as a character for sixteen days of his life, and experience 15 gun jams.

      So yes, while it is something that happens in real life, to the degree games make it matter, no its not something that happens in real life.

      • Hogans heroes says:

        As a current serving army reservist (not US), I can confirm that assault rifles and machine guns jam on a regular basis. Rifles can fire hundreds of rounds in a contact and machine guns thousands. A huge amount of rounds will be fired through a military weapon every year, just from training. The carbon build up jams weapons, without regular cleaning. Not to mention other parts can break and people can put weapons back together wrong. Jammed rifles and guns are a fact of life for anyone using military weapons.

        • Jimbo says:

          That’s because reservists only get given the rusty guns scavenged from dead enemies / swamps etc.

          • Hogans heroes says:

            Cannot speak for other reserve forces, but our assault rifles are drawn from the same stockpile as the regular forces and range from 20 to 10 years old. They are definitely not rusty or from swamps. Our machine guns are brand new and still jam. While mechanical faults can cause jams, carbon build up is probably the main reason. If you fire a large number of rounds with a new weapon without cleaning, it will jam.

      • TWChristine says:

        The only guns I’ve ever had jam were Glocks, and I had it happen multiple times. Personally I swear by Sigs not just from their reliability but I really enjoyed having the de-cock lever. Not to mention disassembly was a snap. I had an instructor once talk about how the Glock was the easiest pistol to strip, and when I brought up that surely a Sig was easier, what without having to do the really akward holding motion for the Glock he just kind of muttered. To each their own I guess.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        I think that’s because of the context you were shooting in. In target shooting, you wouldn’t fire continuously as in combat, you’d rightly be worried about damaging your firearm. And if you did damage something in the gun, you’d immediately stop for safety reasons.

        In combat, you have to keep firing or you get overwhelmed and die, so guns overheat and components are damaged and can’t be replaced before the next firing. I’m not a soldier and have never been in combat myself admittedly, this is all just academic for me.

    • Terragot says:

      The problem with guns jamming is that it only occurs for the player, and not the AI. This makes it seem like an unfair disadvantage, rather than a ‘mechanic’.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        I would LOVE to see a shooter implement a jamming mechanic for players and enemies, but it would have to be one of those shooters where there’s an ease and focus on dropping your gun and using found weapons, rather than a shooter where your gun is a permanent extension of your body like FarCry, because I think if I was in combat and my gun jammed, my first thought would be to pick up a dropped weapon if one was available and my gun wasn’t cooperating immediately.

  14. RagingLion says:

    This is my favourite article from RPS in a long time. Feels fresh.

    I do really love Far Cry 2 so that probably helps but it was really interesting to hear the honest way in which you recognised your disposition now and then and the effect that has on ‘enjoying’ a game. I’ve often thought about how I reckon the same person could have wildly different takeaways from a game based on their frame of mind as they go into it and what game circumstances they witness near the start or their play or their mind happens to seize on. I thinks it’s an area ripe for more discussion and exploration.

    • Unclepauly says:

      This isn’t the 1st one of these types of articles but I highly enjoy them nonetheless. Simply because being 34 I seem to be in that same state of mind where I used to be so short tempered and now can actually sit down, take a breath, and absorb a game(or movie, or whatever). Still not all the way there though :(. Weird as I remember being a kid and being able to play zelda for months straight…. hmm.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I played this on the PS3 due to it being a financially poor year for me where my main gaming PC borked.
    And while I hate playing FPS games on controller, it probably contributed to me playing this more slowly, in a more measured manner.
    It was also the year I’d read Heart of Darkness, Moby Dick, Crime & Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov, so I was in the right frame of mind for something like Far Cry 2.
    The story and ending blew me away. I’d invested so much time into finding the protagonist; my buddies had died in my arms while others had turned on me and attempted to kill me. And that bleak, unhappy ending was the only thing I really deserved.

    Saying that though, I did have a ridiculous amount of fun blowing up enemy patrols with IEDs.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      Oh, and perhaps Alec can go back and replay Fallout New Vegas now ;P

  16. Jimbo says:

    Far Cry 2 was excellent. Far Cry 3 was mechanically sound, but a bit by-the-numbers and had no heart. Far Cry 1 was great until the turd monsters showed up.

    • Fumarole says:

      On the contrary, I found quite a few hearts playing the third game.

  17. Laurentius says:

    And in five years, in this universe or another, forty years old Alec Meer, by some strange turn of events will be replaying The Banner Saga and will love it, especially for its combat. Mark my words.

  18. knowitall011 says:

    if you like fc2, you need to stop reviewing games for a living. hell stop playing games altogether.

    • 65 says:

      Yeh, fuck this.
      It’s barely a 7/10.

    • 12inchPlasticToy says:

      How are you here?

    • InnerPartisan says:

      I *do* like Far Cry 2 – but I don’t review games for a living. Does that mean that I’m allowed to keep on playing games, or does my case need to be reviewed by some board or something?

    • horus_lupercal says:

      I totally agree. After all it’s not like gaming opinions are subjective, we should all have the same opinion or stop enjoying games.

      All hail the hive mind!

  19. slapcup says:

    I adored this game. I just finished far cry 3. I adored that too. I felt like it was me, making my own decisions. I disliked the scripted parts more. That wasn’t me. I enjoyed the ever hostile environment. Keep them coming Ubi and I will keep upgrading to enjoy them. I’m also a developer I truly respect what they are doing.

  20. Shooop says:

    The only thing Far Cry 2 got right was the hostility of the setting. But even that was troubled, and absolutely everything else was crap.

    The AI was crap. Think you’re hidden when in dense jungle foliage and not making a sound? The AI doesn’t think so!

    The shooting was crap. Enemies were almost hilariously bulletproof despite the fact they were all wearing tank-tops. And guns deteriorated so fast they’d be more effective as awkward clubs. Gun jams happen to you the player, but never ever to your enemies who are usually using guns in worse condition.

    The much-hyped fire physics were crap. Set a fire and watch it spread and burn for all of ten seconds before it magically extinguishes itself. In this game’s world there is no need for a fire department.

    Everyone already knows about the magically respawning enemies but it’s worth saying they were crap again because they were. And they made for almost half of the game’s length. Take those out and you’d be lucky if the game lasted 2 hours only because of the bone-headed persistence and bullet resilience of the enemies.

    And worst of all the malaria mechanic was crap. Not for the reason everyone says it is though but for something much worse:
    Its only purpose was to first introduce you to one of the game’s major characters and then fulfil a video game good deed quota by forcing you to help some people who are being hassled by thugs every now and then. The game was basically patting you on the back and telling you you’re so much better than those other people you’re shooting and ruined any real impact the story could have had. You’re still a hero at the end because you were better than all those bad men! It drips with just as much jingoism as a modern CoD story.

    There is not a single feature to be found in Far Cry 2 that makes it worth revisiting unless you’re a masochist. Or just talking pure nonsense and dressing it up with attempts at depth.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Just to pick up on the point about AI omniscience: To everyone who thinks there is no stealth in Far Cry 2, I say this: Night time.

      So many people played Far Cry and got angry when they bought the camo suit, and found it didn’t work. I did too. I raged. I shouted. I may have said a swear. “There is no stealth in this dumb game!” I commented loudly. But there was.

      If you want to play a section stealthily, if you want to use the silenced pistol and have it work, go and sleep until its 2am in the morning. Now try. Every time I have played it, and stuck to this, stealth works. IMO that makes sense – in blazing sunshine on the savannah, against men who are aware they may get shot at, who are surrounded by lions and tigers, and who own binoculars and scopes, you will get spotted more easily. Yes, I agree the AI was set TOO sensitive in the day. But go and try playing at night – its totally different, and very much fun.

      • Shooop says:

        Did that. Didn’t make a difference – the AI would always find you, no matter what you did. The only way to go undetected was to avoid enemies entirely. Which was hard to do with their magical outposts set up everywhere.

        The game’s AI was broken beyond repair. And to this day I haven’t seen a Ubisoft game that has even satisfactory AI that isn’t lazily covered up by making them crack shots.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I think you were just playing the limited edition “whoopee cushions on feet” version :p

        • KenTWOu says:

          And to this day I haven’t seen a Ubisoft game that has even satisfactory AI…

          You should play Splinter Cell:Chaos Theory.

      • Premium User Badge

        VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        I concur.

        But even during the day, with tactical use of cover to occlude your position, and flanking people, the stealth was really powerful.

    • Vulgar_Monkey says:

      The aspects of combat that bothered me (on console) were the bullet-sponge enemies, possibly the wildly inaccurate guns, and definitely the bizarre mouse-acceleration whenever you looked or aimed around. Fair enough on an actual mouse maybe, but on a pad?! Unwieldy.

      I get that you’re meant to be a bit cackhanded so as to encourage more thoughtful play, but there are better ways of doing it.

      Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have the pc version, that was fixed entirely via mods, but us console people never get such luck. Hopefully one day that part of the pc master race / console divide might be bridged. Mod fixes for all, plz!

    • jorygriffis says:

      re: malaria and being a “better person”: Personally, I loved the conflict of getting malaria medicine as a reward for “good deeds” towards the refugees. The fact is, your character is going to die without that medicine, and the only way to get it is to help those people. If you play the game knowing you’re a shit person, and then look those NPCs in the eyes as they tell you you’ll be in their prayers, it can be really powerful.

      In the early parts of the game, doing the first few missions helping the refugees, I agree that I felt like maybe my character was redeeming himself. But, as you point out, these are tiny little good deeds in a sea of terrible ones, which is artificial at best and completely self-serving besides. As Clint points out in the comments of this piece by Tom “Gunpoint Now” Francis, the people you’re “helping” in exchange for medicine are the same people whose lives you’re ruining by burning their crops and destroying their homes in selfish perpetuation of a conflict that has nothing to do with you.

      • Shooop says:

        And that’s the problem – you the player are left with the illusion you’re actually a much better person than everyone else in it you’ve killed because of those little acts. There is no point in the game where it reveals you’re the same as them, only post-game interviews. There is no conveyance.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          Come on, how can you not notice that you are the same as them? For the vast majority of the game, you are doing absolutely awful things for awful people. You are the problem. The game isn’t subtle about it. No one says so out loud until the Jackal does right at the end, but it’s impossible to miss if you pay any attention to your actions at all (rather than just going through a checklist of objectives, I suppose).

    • KenTWOu says:

      Set a fire and watch it spread and burn for all of ten seconds before it magically extinguishes itself.

      Check this out, smart ass!

      In your game, if you don’t constrain the propagation somehow, it will either

      - Burn the entire map and kill all the NPCs
      - Fill out the memory with thousands of fire grids and particle emitters.
      - Choke the framerate to death
      - All of the above

      • Shooop says:

        A blog about how you can code fire. Not about the game Far Cry 2′s fire effect, but about how fire effects are coded. Oh yes, that is a perfect representation of what actually happened in the game I’m talking about.

        And funny, the number following the words Far Cry appears to be a number three.

        You need to stare long and hard at this: http://goo.gl/ZICSRP

        • InnerPartisan says:

          So what you’re saying is that you didn’t actually read that blog post?

        • KenTWOu says:

          And funny, the number following the words Far Cry appears to be a number three.

          Next time read words, smart ass. And you will notice that this blog post was written by Jean-Francois Levesque He coded Far Cry 2 fire propagation system during the whole development process.

  21. Premium User Badge

    amateurviking says:

    I always want to hug you and tell you it’s all going to be alright after finishing one of your autobiographical pieces. My mirror-neurons start firing wildly.

  22. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Your just old. Young you was right. It’s shit.

  23. Premium User Badge

    dare says:

    I have tried to play FC2, because I just might like it, but I cannot play it. The FOV is stuck at something that feels like 60; it makes me feel claustrophobic and results in motion sickness. I always end up trying to change it, but there seems to be no way to do this so I give up and play something else. WHYYY.

    • Fumarole says:

      I had the same issue initially and was able to change the FOV to a decent degree by modifying an .ini or something. Same with the widescreen aspect. There’s a solution out there, look a bit harder.

      Maybe this?

  24. buzzmong says:

    I somewhat enjoyed FC2, but it was plagued by some bad systems which ultimately resulted in “meh”.

    The fact everyone was hostile and that checkpoints had respawning guards sort of ruined the whole concept it was going for in my eyes. First time I met a checkpoint I was expecting to have to pay a fee, not to get shot at with no provocation. I wanted a choice of paying, fighting or evading.

    I also spent a fair amount of time diamond hunting, which was another bad thing in my eyes.

    I did really enjoy the flame thrower though :D

  25. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I was one of the (not necessarily passionate) minority who liked it. I played it 2-3 times, and in fact my later playthroughs were more aimed at finding all the gem cases and guns. I love loot. But yeah, Jackal was cool. I liked his tapes. “Chunks of hamburger”. That Dogon Village. That mortar guy. The trippiness of that between-maps part where you can’t walk against the wind. Yes, I preferred FC1. But I never got the complaints about FC2, especially the respawning checkpoints. I just drove ROUND the fucking things.

  26. Ernesto says:

    tl:dr: You played it wrong! :D

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I know you’re joking, but I agree with the sentiment. Every Far Cry game (1,2 and 3) has different ways of playing it, and some are / were more fun than others. In fact I would say this is true of the Crysis games as well (though I have not played 3) – I loved them for the sandbox qualities, when they allowed it. I would frequently play a section, then go “nah sod it. I want to try that a different way.” I would hit quick load and try to do the checkpoint stealthily, with no one knowing I was there. Or I would reload, strap an IED to the front of a jeep, then jump out and let the vehicle freewheel into the checkpoint and blow the thing up (reloading again when I didnt time the explosion right). These games at their best are playgrounds, and its the fun you make for yourself which is IMO the best. There is a ‘right’ way to play them.

  27. Premium User Badge

    Xantonze says:

    There’s a small patch to fix the annoying guards respawn, some controls/mouse problems, etc. It’s a must once those are fixed, even if the game is quite repetitive, the setting is gorgeous and I felt so sad when I let my buddies die….

  28. C0llic says:

    It really was just the checkpoints. I enjoyed it at the time, but the grind just killed it for me in the end.

    I wouldn’t say i’m fond of it, more that it still makes me sad, because it was so close to being absoultely brilliant.

  29. Cytrom says:

    I played this game through multiple times. I hated it each time, from start to finish. Everything about it (literally every single possible activity that you can do in the game) felt like (and was) a monotonous, infinitely repeatable, and ultimately meaningless chore. And simply traveling from point A to point B took up the majority of the time you spend in the game. But there was some kind of routine in it that kept me going. And the atmosphere (that you mostly have to imagine there) was kind of unique.

    With some modding support this game could have been made brilliant. Just a little tweaking and addition here and there.
    In any case, far cry 3 was a massive improvement, and I’d rather play that game any time than fc2. But it was also missing something that FC2 brought to the table… couldn’t really describe it what exactly it is, maybe the pressure, the more urging survival element, the lack of handholding, don’t know. But I’m glad Both FC2 and 3 exists.
    (I just wish uPlay wouldnt exist…)

    • Wedge says:

      I wonder if there’s a trainer to just give you all the unlockables right off, since trying to do the sidemissions just ended up absurdly tedious with all the design flaws. I suppose the experience might come off better if you only really go through the main game missions,

  30. sonson says:

    I made similar and similarly lengthy points on the forums a few months back WHERE’S MY AWARD HUH

    It is one if the best games. To the point that everything I’ve tried to play since has seemed unambitious, disjointed, almost part of an inferior medium at times. It’s a clever game, it’s a horrible game, it’s a challenging game, it’s an engaging game and it tells a story and affects you in a manner no other form could

  31. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Far Cry 2 is a game I love, while still recognising its many flaws. The act of playing it for me feels somewhere in the same zone where Stalker and DayZ sit. Being able to wander around a large area at will, encountering expected and unexpected threats, some of which I get the better of, and some of which get the better of me.

    The story is equal parts inspired and bullshit, but at its core is a recognition of the grim shabbiness of evil that pervades most of the game’s design. And in a way, that’s what makes the game a little un-fun when confronted at its hardest.

    I recommend Far Cry 2 to anyone who likes to think about the games they play and analyse them. I recommend it to everyone else too, but with caveats.

  32. Werthead says:

    FC2′s problems:

    The checkpoints, natch.
    The writing, which is terrible.
    The AI, which is terrible.
    The characterisation, which is non-existent.
    The plot, which is borderline non-existent for most of its length.
    The driving and handling, which is awful (I’m guessing this is a tribute to FC1).
    Your own allies attacking you for no discernible reason even when you are doing a vital mission for them.

    The buddy system, which is a good idea rendered moot by the poor characterisation: I don’t care about any of these people. And in fact most missions are better done without them, since having to run back and pound them full of morphine every 5 seconds because they can’t fire at the enemy from cover, just run at them firing (due to the terrible AI), actually makes it more likely you’ll be shot up as well.

    Balanced against that, what is good about FC2:

    The atmosphere.
    The nihilistic and futile message that all of these groups fighting for control in Africa are as bad as one another.
    The actual combat and gunplay can be quite good, once you’ve gotten into the fight.
    Some of the locations are rather evocative.

    What is good about the game is rather thin, it has to be said. FC1 and FC3 have very cheesy writing, corny plots and very cheesy characterisation, but at least they make an attempt at those things. FC2 doesn’t really. I can’t tell you a single character’s name from FC2 apart from the Jackal, unlike Krieger, Carver and Vaas. FC2 is such a blank slate that you can project a lot of things onto the game, but if you look at what is actually there, there really isn’t very much at all.

  33. Premium User Badge

    jaheira says:

    The second best FPS ever made, and it ran HL2 very, very close.

  34. waltC says:

    I wonder at the purpose of this article….;) ?

  35. KenTWOu says:

    I played Far Cry 2 for the first time a month ago. That’s why I’ve read lots of Far Cry 2 related stuff on RPS. And found this fascinating post from the past by Calabi, who was astonishingly precise. Check this out:

    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.

  36. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I played Far Cry 2 while suffering from a high fever, in a house in which the heating had broken, in the midst of winter.

    I was delirious. I was liminal. I had a fan heater turned up uncomfortably high. I had goosebumps from the frigid air in the room. I was hot. I was cold. I was the malaria-riddled mercenary. I was the sick gamer hunched at home. I sweated. I shivered. I felt the lines between game and reality blur.

    I will never know how much of what I experienced was a result of my fevered imagination. I will never know how much was the game. I was in Africa, with the sun beating down on me pitilessly. I was in Africa, with the night air freezing the sweat on my back. I killed men. I befriended men. I decided the fate of a nation. I was helpless and couldn’t move.

    I cannot go back. I wouldn’t go back. I was never there. I never left.

  37. Crusoe says:

    A fantastic article, Mr. Meer.

  38. james___uk says:

    It’s very overly long and gets repetitive, yet I completed and enjoyed two playthroughs! Also, the mortar, one of the best game weapons ever (to me)

  39. Riley Lungmus says:

    I have fond memories of Farcry 2. In high school study hall I would plug in my wired Xbox360 to my laptop and play it for an hour-and-a-half block period.

    I always remembered really enjoying it. I particularly dug on the actual gunfighting, it felt visceral and panicked. Though then, I’m sure I didn’t play on Hardcore. Perhaps I had a more fun time because I felt a little more Rambo, a lot less STALKER.

  40. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    What’s interesting to me about Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 2 is that they are each other’s evil twin. Both games try to lead you to the same place despite their design philosophies being purposefully opposite from one another, and neither is entirely successful because of how doggedly they pursue their philosophies.

    Far Cry 2 makes the player wallow in antifun and ugliness to prove a point that it ultimately can’t prove unless you play it in a way that the game doesn’t allow for because there was a clear last-minute bit of “course correction” to make it salable. They got ninety percent of the way there and choked at the realization that they’d made an artgame on a AAA budget, and then tried to cover up the artgaminess with Band-Aids that ended up making players angrier (respawning dudes, player in a constant state of threat, etc.). It was trying to be DayZ before DayZ, but the concatenation of factors that allowed DayZ to happen didn’t exist yet.

    Far Cry 3 is the opposite. It’s the machine in that one Simpsons episode where Homer goes to Hell’s Ironic Punishments Division (apologies for the gratuitous Hulu branding). It gives you as much AAA-style sandbox checklist “fun” as you want, hoping that you’ll get grossed out by it and realize how stupid and meaningless it all is. But they made the same mistake Far Cry 2 made: they assumed that people who bought Far Cry 3 came to the game wanting a meaningful experience, as opposed to rigoddamndiculous sandbox checklist fun. It’s not that they overestimated gamers’ intelligence, despite the writer’s protests; it’s that they misunderstood what the Far Cry brand meant to gamers who don’t read game blogs religiously. It worked out exactly like the Simpsons gag in the end. People were like “What’s all this shit about good and evil and manliness and— I WANNA MAKE A WALLET OUT OF A BEAR AGAIN!”

    • Shooop says:

      It must be a trend with Ubisoft. They’re just absolutely shit at writing serious stories.

      Far Cry 2 fared better than 3 with getting a serious message across but it was hampered by piss-poor conveyance in the form of making you be a good samaritan for malaria pills. Players walked away feeling like they were a hero instead of part of the problem in the area. That is if they managed to finish the game which seemed to try everything it possibly could to frustrate you into quitting.

      Far Cry 3 only flirted with a message because Yohalem wouldn’t know what satire is if it showed up at his front door and started kicking him in the crotch.

      And just two words: Assassin’s Creed. It’s like Ubisoft goes out of their way to find the next Stephenie Meyer and have them write stories for video games.

  41. KenTWOu says:

    Why nobody mentioned that word? The real reason why Far Cry 2 was so effective for so many players. Immersion. Not that PR overused term that means shiny realistic graphics and performance capture. Far Cry 2 gives you true immersion, the same immersion that Trespasser or Looking Glass games gave. It uses first person view and has almost HUDless experience, that’s why it gives you real map in your hand, use coloured road signs and even main menu looks like a notebook. It renders your hands, sometimes even legs. it uses lots of realistic systems like fire, wind, rain which affect everything else in the game. Hell, you car even flattens the grass beneath it…

    One of the most immersive games I’ve ever played.

    • Shooop says:

      Is it your second job to shamelessly plug this game or something?

      • KenTWOu says:

        Is it so hard to embrace the fact that there are people who valuate different features? And there are people who love immersive sims, emergent gameplay and emergent narrative? People who hate hand holding and praise player agency? People who like to analyze games even when those games are somewhat broken?

        Man, you clearly dislike this game and your posts are all over the place. Is it your second job too?

    • Werthead says:

      So it’s immersive to have a 5-minute firefight at a small checkpoint, kill everyone there, leave and when you pass by it again 10 minutes later, you have to have another firefight because the exact same dudes have magically reappeared out of thin air?

      It’s immersive that you agree to do a dangerous, vital job for a faction in the civil war, and the nanosecond you leave the town people from that same faction are attacking you?

      It’s immersive to get into a fight alongside a friend who is so stupid he keeps charging at the enemies, getting gunned down, you magically heal him with morphine, then he just goes and does it again?

      It’s immersive that you hide in deep cover, let off a single sniper shot and suddenly everyone within a mile and half magically knows your precise location?

      It’s immersive that you can’t walk or drive more than 100 yards without someone trying to shoot your head off, but if you get into a bus you are magically protected right across to the other side of the map?

      It’s immersive – and not say, a little racist – that the game portrays 98% of the population of Africa as psychopathic lunatics, all of them toting AK-47s, who fire at everything and everyone in sight without any cause?

      FAR CRY 2 is a game that is resolutely not interested in immersion. It holds you at arm’s length from any kind of immersion whilst waving its artificial gameness in your face.

      FC1 and 3 are not interested in immersion either, but they make up for that by being fun. FC2 isn’t particularly fun either, except in very brief, very fleeting moments mid-combat, or when you find a particularly attractive vista.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Almost every game has immersion breaking features. It’s no wonder that Far Cry 2 has them too. And by the way, IMO from gameplay point of view Far Cry 3 is better than Far Cry 2.

  42. Carcer says:

    I never managed to finish FC2, although I played a decent way through. In my experience it was initially entertaining but I eventually just found it too repetitive to continue playing. There were only so many times I could blow up checkpoints and get missions to go somewhere and kill a bunch of dudes in between hunting diamonds to try and get guns that weren’t going to break as soon as I looked at them. At the point I realised I’d basically been doing the exact same thing over and over for the last few hours and it was no longer challenging or satisfying, I stopped.

  43. Lemming says:

    it’s an (extremely) flawed gem. If Ubisoft had released it as easily moddable it would’ve been hailed as one of the great FPS’s of its day, and probably still be being played today.

  44. Premium User Badge

    corinoco says:

    I think the respawning checkpoints are one of the BEST features of the game. I know lots of people think in terms of game-logic “shit, I already ‘cleared’ this guard post” but think in tems of being one merc in civil-war generic African tinpot dictatorship. Guard posts are going to ‘respawn’ with more 15yr olds with AKs who don’t know what side they are on all the time. There aren’t going to be enormous swathes of depopulated landscape.

    The one thing the game lacked was the predatory animal system I recall the devs tried to implement – the predators just ended up eating everything as the map sizes were too small for ‘real’ lions – if they toned down the predator hunger they just slept all day and acted like they were scripted.

    The malaria idea was also great – no, you aren’t über-human, you get sick just like everyone else, and often at bad times, like in the middle of a gun fight.

    The sound is wonderful. The bird calls (rock doves), herds (zebra), insects, the chatter of guards. The guy with the strong ‘serth effrikan’ accent that you just know was a big fan of apartheidt, and was always so surprised when you shot him ‘ah, shit! I’ve been shot!’ And the nasty, chilling way people would scream and writhe from being shot in the gut – clearly in enormous pain, but scrabbling for their pistol so they could get a shot off at you, the bastard who shot them.

    Far Cry 2 is ugly in a sense – but far more realistic at showing how ugly civil wars are – none of this gung-ho clean hero image from COD et al, just an ugly, dirty little war.

  45. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    I think the problem I have with all the Far Cry games is the versions of them that reside in my mind are far, far better than the ones in my Steam library.

    And this — “it won’t seem to let you have a good time” — goes ten times for Far Cry 3. I tried that again recently as a friend had got it for their PS3, and the exact same mission that made me quit on the PC frustrated me so much that I gave up. It’s not far in, it’s just after you rescue the first friend at the doctor’s house (being vague to avoid spoilers, though it’s an early part) which is just after a sequence that made me think “hey, this game might actually have something going for it”.

    You’re told to check out the radio room in a beached ship that the bad guys are occupying, and if you approach it from anything other than the angle the game wants you to, it doesn’t bother to let you know that if you get seen it’s an instant game over. On top of this, the baddies seem to have magic vision whereby if someone sees as much as a flash of your shin for half a second, everyone in the vicinity knows your precise location.

    It’s a digression, I admit, but I feel that FC3 comes from the same school of Bad Design as Assassin’s Creed 3; it’s too focused on what it wants to tell you to let you have much of a good time, and in very many cases there’s an optimal — and sometimes only — way to clear a mission that the game does a very bad job of indicating to you. It seems analagous to the problem with some adventure games where you have to figure out what weird brand of logic was going through the designer’s head; here you have to work out how they want you to do what they want you to do, which kills freedom in games that otherwise have a semi-sandbox approach.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      I bought FC3 while after a few beers and hadn’t realised it required Uplay. So I didn’t play it for a a few months. When I finally did get around to playing it (after more beers) I quit after a couple of minutes when I realised that I couldn’t just shoot the irritating guy that was giving me fedex missions to do or something, and it didn’t seem to allow me simply to run off into the jungle, which is what I do in every TES game as soon as I get the chance. Haven’t been back to it since.

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  47. YashJ says:

    I’m genuinely depressed about how wrong people are about this game. It’s just that it came well before its time and presented itself to an audience that didn’t have the grammar to understand it. This game is ruthless, but highy rewards planning and tactics and enemy management. It’s so smart. The design is elegant with few elements and the emergence from that carries it really far. The crammed dialogue is weird, but even though it’s a technical constraint it’s so interesting that any exposition is done in 30s, and the enemy barks carry a lot of urgency. I think the AI is pretty successful as well. It does a decent job of cornering and flanking, reminds me a lot of the original Halo. I’m so glad there’s no light gem either – you’re all wrong about there not being any stealth in this game. The setting is highly original for a videogame, and i’d trade several hundred games with dull meaningless fantasy storylines for it.

    It feels like people have latched onto a few irrelevant aspects of the game (“respawning enemies” makes it sound like enemies pop back into existence. You can hang around dead guardposts for ages and you rarely have to backtrack during a single mission) and have the same boring whiney criticisms. It’s like saying the enemies in Dark Souls do too much damage so it’s not a game worth playing or something…

    p.s. it feels like if this game came with a manual where you’re told not to pick up used guns, that you don’t have to kill every enemy, and to take the boat everywhere when you travel people would have fewer gameplay criticisms. (more skills for the player toolbox off the bat.)

    • Geebs says:

      The fact that the AI respawns when you’ve turned your back and travelled about 20 metres down the road, rather than doing it right in front of you, doesn’t excuse the fact that five armed dudes have appeared out of nowhere in no time at all. It’s still stupid.

      The fact that weapons work with pinpoint accuracy and have infinite ammo until the player character picks them up is stupid.

      The malaria mechanic is stupid. There is absolutely no reason for the protagonist not to have taken precautions against it, and malaria doesn’t behave even remotely like it does in the game (given that malaria is an actual deadly illness, giving out bad information about it just to stroke the designer’s ego is pretty reprehensible)

      Travelling by river is all well and good, but that makes you notice even sooner that the map is shaped like a video game, not a place. Plus it’s boring and the boats handle even worse than the cars.

      Here’s the thing the designers don’t get – putting in stupid mechanics to waste your customers’ time, and then talking them up as if they’re some sort of meta-commentary on gaming isn’t clever, it’s an insult to the intelligence and goodwill of their customers. If you want players to stop being such sheeple and learn to appreciate more interesting systems, why not actually put them in your game?

      • YashJ says:

        A lot of these criticisms are pretty odd. Games often use abstraction through mechanisms to mimic the real world but no one nitpicks things like health regen or pickups. I’d put forward that single-handedly liberating entire islands in Far Cry 3 is ridiculous. OK so maybe the camps respawn too abstractly, but again you rarely actually have to backtrack through them? It’s easy to avoid gunfights? It’s meant to be that way for the sake of pacing? There’s so much over-exaggeration about the respawn times. Furthermore with regards to the map, unless you’re playing a flight sim, all games have unrealistic terrain and that’s never been any sort of issue.

        I also don’t think that this game intends to be a meta-commentary on gaming at all, unlike something like spec ops. Time-wasting mechanisms are actually very legitimate, like why sims have such drastically different pacing to other games. You could equally label the mechanics in Receiver as time-wasting. IDK, it seems arbitrary to say that these are stupid mechanisms especially since they do actually make the game interesting. They’re really not superfluous at all. It’s just, as with what I said about there not being a light-gem, that there aren’t a million bars telling you what the state of your gun is or when you next need a malaria pill. I think that people just really suck at this game and are a bit frustrated by that.. They expect really obtuse stealth AI (it’s something that is fully intentional in stealth games) and perfectly fluid gunfights (because we haven’t moved on from Wolfenstein 3D).

        edit: sorry to sound so defensive.. i have a disproportional amount of love for this game. it’s actually marmite.

        • Werthead says:

          The respawning seems to be based on proximity to the base, not time. If you kill everyone in a base and then hang out there, it won’t respawn whilst you’re there. If you walk or drive more than a few hundred yards away and then double back, it will have respawned. I got so annoyed by it I did some experiments and that seems to be the case; the respawning ‘time’ if you leave and come back seems to be nearly instantaneous, varying only by the time it takes you to leave the area and come back again (usually 30-60 seconds at a walking speed, significantly less in a car).

          As for the backtracking, yes, in many cases you can take your vehicle, ram it off the road and try to drive through the jungle (sometimes possible, sometimes not) to avoid the checkpoints. Some are almost impossible to avoid though: there was one right outside the first town on the railroad tracks which almost blocked off that side of the map unless you were prepared to drive in the opposite direction and then circle around. You could, with that outpost, drive past it on the far side of the railroad tracks, and by the time the people noticed and started firing you were already pretty much gone. And unlike a lot of outposts, there usually weren’t vehicles there so they’d chase after you.

          Other outposts had cars and jeeps on standby, so yes, you could drive past them but then have a lengthy car chase instead, which was even more annoying. And yes, quite a few missions did require you (driving the most direct way) to drive one way past the outpost and then back again.

  48. empty_other says:

    Seems the AI, like the AI in Stalker, varies based on how good or bad your computer is, i’ve noticed. I felt sneaking in this game was as easy as crouching in some bushes while my friend would constantly be spotted from a world away.

    Have some awesome missions from this game as well. One is where im supposed to infiltrate this town and save someone. Solution: Place a C4 in one end of the city, walk around it and enter from the other side just as i blew the C4. Not a guard in sight.. Unfortunately the returned to their posts as i was about to leave.

    Another mission theres a man in a suit im supposed to kill, once again in the city. I bring my sniper, spend more than an hour walking around this city (it was up against a mountainside, but still a long walk around), and up on the mountain, if i stood just right, i had a perfect shot between the houses and straight to the targets head. The guards ran panicked around before one of them spotted me (unbelievable, im like a kilometer away) and i ran away while hearing bullets ricochet around me.

    And theres fun moments with flamethrowers and a village of huts on the savannah. One target inside, and the place has grass all around it. I was singing “A burning ring of fire” while making a burning ring of fire. While enjoying the view (and ducking bullets from guards trying to shoot me trough the flames) the mission was suddenly a success.

    Awesome game!

    The bad: I remember my biggest disappointment was that the trailer promised i could blow up houses. This was unfortunately a cutscene. And the respawning checkpoints was insane, i had them spawn while i was looking right at them. But nothing i couldn’t handle.

  49. Haplo says:

    Terrific post, Mr. Meer. Just fantastic.

    Advice: would be improved with soft jazz and the sound of a rainstorm licking at your windows.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      *NOTHING* is improved by Jazz, soft or otherwise. Musical wanking, as one of Roddie Doyle’s characters put it.

  50. Fenix says:

    I skipped Far Cry (can’ remember why) and went into Far Cry 2 with no expectations. I kinda got frustrated by it and its stupid mechanics and the extreme repetitiveness of the “quests” until I realized that’s the wrong thing to care about and just did what I felt like doing and treated it like an exploration game.

    Then I really started having a great time.