Far Cry 2: First Impressions

So I’m a few hours into Far Cry 2 and I’m going to just quickly report my impressions of it so far. Firstly, it pains me to have to quit out of the game to blog about it, which is a good sign, but also a bad sign. The bad being: it locks up if I alt-tab. That said, I have ignored the game’s pleas to update both Vista and my Nvidia drivers, so I’m probably partly to blame for technical difficulties. That said, even with my updating laziness, the game runs fantastically on my 8800 with everything maxed. Not quite comparable with Crysis, perhaps, but that really doesn’t matter: it pulls of the dense, jungled African valleys impeccably. The action is smooth, and the world detailed.

The one thing that no one seems to have taken much time to mention yet is the general ambience of the game setting. If feels very low-key, gritty even, when compared to just about any other shooter I can think of. It’s real-world, and kind of ugly and organic. There’s a kind of continuous tension in the game world, and not least because you yourself are fighting illness, and being hunted by both factions in this wartorn realm. It’s really selling the idea that this is a seething, hatred-filled place of violence, de-sensitized by war and greed. The rolling, rumbling soundtrack bolsters that. It definitely lacks the charm of Stalker, or even Boiling Point, and I’m unconvinced by the African setting as a whole, but it works.

There’s a lot that you can say that about in this game: it’s not exactly genius, but it really works. The game is boldly functional: the ultra-minimal GUI and general world interactions definitely demonstrate that. Nothing seems over-complicated, but there’s enough on offer for this to be a shooter that has some depth.

Being hunted by both factions seems to be freaking out a large number of people: as if they didn’t expect to shoot and be shot at by large numbers of people in this, a first-person shooter? Odd. Anyway, the areas in which you *aren’t* involved in a sprawling, endless firefight, are superb, with surly, suspicious faces everywhere, and believable understated characters lurking about, or offering you mercenary fare. The towns are essential abandoned: just home to militias and criminals now. I found that something of a shame – having more human life to the world would have been great.

The missions seem to be all combat, but that’s fine by me: the first instance of ramming a Jeep convoy off the road at a junction, leaping out and gunning down every member of the party couldn’t have been more thrilling. Watching the target blip on the map and timing my race across the dirt-tracks to collide with him so precisely was fantastic. My subsequent “death” at the hands of pursuing militia was less elegant, but it at least showed me the superb death-is-not-death mechanic. Once down, and unconscious, You’re pulled back from the brink by a buddy, and stumble back into consciousness in the midst of the firefight. It’s dramatic, perhaps a little silly, but superbly done. It’s like a game both being honest about what quicksave means for videogame metaphysics, and still plastering over the cracks with its fiction.

Finally: I can entirely understand people’s concerns about the enemy AI. It’s as if they are deaf, slightly dizzy, and at the same time absolutely blood-crazed. They’re probably the weakest link the game, but if I can put up with Stalker, then this is fine too. They aren’t exactly convincing adversaries, but right now I don’t care. The combat is brutal enough – with people going dying just easily enough – for me to keep on going.

Right now this is a game that is more intriguing than amazing. I want to see where it goes, and whether it can deliver any more impressive ideas. So far, so good.

If you’ve not started playing yet, I’d recommend turning off the subtitles. They felt intrusive to me, at least.


  1. Chris R says:

    So far I’ve played 15 hours, and haven’t seen any of these respawning issues that some of you are having.

    Also, are you guys actually landing hits on the enemies?? I can usually take down 1 bad guy with a couple bursts (a couple of 3 round bursts in quick succession) to their chest and head area… Using the silenced MP5 does take a bit longer to kill people, but the AK 47 and AR-15 are incredible… upgrade people! Throw that POS G3 away as soon as possible. Also, I never shoot from the hip (crosshairs are disabled, my choice), and always use the iron sights… maybe that’s why you guys think it takes forever to kill an enemy, since more than half your shots are missing the target?

  2. K says:

    I’m not sure why they bothered with that opening, it was terminally dull. Nothing’s drawing me in; I’m just not feeling any atmosphere yet, and everything seems kind of sluggish. I’ll have to give it another chance at a later date. I guess I’m in the mood for something else.

  3. Gorgeras says:

    Yes I do think console mags should close down. They scream obnoxious things from their front covers and have such a reliance on soft-porn(PC Format seems to at least try to go that low, but still can’t manage it) that they can’t be anything other than a damning indictment on their Zoo-esque readership.

    I’m elitist.

  4. Novotny says:

    If you’re feeling sluggish, update your gfx card drivers. The new NV ones reduced the mouse lag which was really bothering me. 8800GT.

    I also deleted razor reg entries, as I have given away their ridiculous copperhead 3G ‘mouse’ (more kite on a windy day than exact pointy device) and gone back to my trusty MX518. This might have had something to do with it too.

  5. Novotny says:

    Oh and the shiny blood irritates. As it did in Bioshock. I’d much rather have black bits in the spewing claret. Don’t round on me, you crazy pitchforked fools – the gross is already there, it’s just the making it shiny that annoys.

    Reflective on the floor, maybe, but coming out like bright red mercury? DAFT

  6. Deadpan says:

    I can only hope one of the first mods out the gate is to fix …
    – Blood appearance
    – NPCs taking longer to fill in the checkpoints, maybe upgrading things after some maniac (you) already mowed the place down for the 60th time that day.
    – NPC x-ray vision through foliage.
    – More that one diamond in a hidden, GPS-tagged case.
    – NPCs having a little more weapon variety than degrees of rust.
    – Option to strap carcasses of animals I run down to the hood of my jeep to sell to the local butcher.
    – Option to strap carcasses of NPCs I run down to the hood of my jeep to sell to the local butcher..
    – Option to buy a rucksack or something to hold more ammo and needles.
    – Longer lasting cloak.
    – Stealth Kills
    Add your own demands.

  7. Trollish says:

    Guys, it is available on Steam in Europe too. I just tried buying it, and it works. So stop complaining.

  8. ikigeg says:

    I really liked the original far cry and remember the ooh and ahh at the graphics at the time, plus it was a good little jaunt with a steep enough difficulty curve to encourage you to play through… sure it wasn’t without its faults – I remember grabbing a big flatbed truck and mistiming an escape through some fenced gates, driving very quickly into them, to be suddenly presented with a view of the floor. Upon exiting the vehicle, I got to watch it pirouette (sp?) and slowly move through the length of the gate…

    So that was the original, but now we have far cry 2 – and in every sense it is a far cry from the original setting and indeed the “normal” world we live in… gritty, deadly, full of zebra, abandoned shacks, and creepy disembodied voices (like that of the puppet in Saw) talking to you through transmitters all over the place asking you to kill people… very realistic looking world for the most part. An actual return to exploration which I have so very much missed in games – always a treat finding diamonds in suitcases next to dead bodies – and seeing a sunrise is actually quite beautiful as bullets whiz past :)

    I have only discovered a few negatives so far:

    1. the driving feels weird, lacking the usual slide i’m used to when turning

    2. haven’t seen many friendly npc’s yet, mainly just random bad guys defending places in the middle of nowhere; above all else i think that will bore me and leave me to leave the game more than anything else

    3. not convinced by the buddy thing either, sure its a possible way to get rid of quick save-itis, but i still quick save… it feels more like a gimmicky alternative to the auto-heal of other games. Having said that I do like the healing system, when you are down to nearly empty health, pressing heal scoops the bullet out of you and stops you being critical – before having to heal again to do it properly this time… nice touch.

    On the plus side:

    – The fire and explosions are gorgeous, although i’m a little disappointed that fire does stop at a particular radius… i can understand it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it :P

    – When you get spotted by someone in a vehicle and they drive quickly at you, the engine actually growls with effort! awesome :) and has made me jump more than once

    I’m going to keep playing, I haven’t heard much about people completing it yet so who knows, maybe the Jackal was involved with the mutations on the previous far cry – and later on we discover men with zebra legs and lion-o red hair… i live in hope!

    For those who care I am actually running this on a Quadro FX 1700, AMD 64 X2 4200, 2GB RAM and 64-bit Vista. It runs smooth on the lower settings, not amazing looking but enough to suck me in :)

  9. Bhazor says:

    I’m pretty certain the bright shiny blood is by design. Allowing you to see if you hit someone through dense scrub. After just an hour I can see it’s usefulness.

  10. Justin says:

    I think more games should be described in terms of their contrast with Stalker.

    I think I’ve got 100+ (200+?) hours in Stalker: SOC with the Oblivion Lost modification, and there’s no stopping point in sight. Which is slightly worrisome.

  11. Novotny says:

    Interesting point Bhazor – I’m just getting into the game, but couldn’t the (hit/no hit?) issue not work as a game mechanic? As in , I’ve emptied three mags at this c@@@, and now it’s all quiet. Am I getting flanked? Is he still there, spewing stuff? Gotta move, etc etc

    I’m just hating on the shiny blood big time.

  12. Novotny says:

    Ok Justin
    Cribbage Vs S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

    Cribbage 2 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 8
    Look at the cards. Look at your mates. Look at the beer.

    Sound FX
    Cribbage 9 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 8
    Listen to them whine. Slag your mates in real-time.

    Cribbage 10 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 7

    Crikey, Cribs wins!!

  13. Rook says:

    Racer_S (Bioshock Widescreen hac) has a hack out for Far Cry 2 widescreen.

    link to widescreengamingforum.com

    Does look better imo, although shame the wing mirrors don’t work in the car.

  14. Dominic White says:

    The widescreen hack has a pretty major problem – there’s huge, perfectly rectangular shadows cast across the entire world. This is especially obvious when in desert or flat areas.

    I’ll play with a tighter FOV until that is fixed, as it looks really goddamn weird.

  15. Rook says:

    Maybe that’s your drivers/settings cause it looks fine to me. Although I am using the 180.42 beta set from nVidia.

  16. Dominic White says:

    ATI card here – a few others have reported seeing the same issue. It looks fine indoors, but once you get into the more sparsely decorated areas it becomes apparent. It’s not an obvious glitch – they literally are large, striped areas of properly cast shadow.

  17. Paul Moloney says:

    I came home tonight to play it, but first installed the latest nVidia beta driver, which is recommended for Far Cry 2.

    Unfortunately, now I’m hit with a “splash screen, then nothing” error which is common on the official forum:

    link to forums.ubi.com

    Don’t know if it’s the new driver or not – I’ll try uninstalling, then using DriverCleaner to see if that is the issue.


  18. Rook says:

    Yeah, Racer_S got given an 8800 by 2k because of bioshock so it figures that it would be a card issue.

  19. deadbob says:

    I had a blunt message on installing Farcry2 that my video drivers were out of date, as i’d only updated them the week before to try and sort out a problem with Warhammer online, I ignored it and the games been great even at max settings.

  20. malkav11 says:

    I’ve actually been rather disappointed by the fire. It was advertised as this sudden, elemental force that might catch from hot bullet casings or an exploded grenade and run wild, trapping me in an expanding world of flames. Instead, I can toss molotov cocktails all over and they won’t even catch blatantly flammable things on fire half the time. When a fire does start, it goes a few feet, burns a little while, and peters out. It’s completely failed to be any sort of active game force. I’m hoping that this isn’t due to playing on Easy… I really hate it when developers make easier difficulties easy by taking out interesting game elements.

  21. ikigeg says:

    regarding the fires i couldn’t agree more!

    thanks to the prior coverage I was imagining big country wide forest fires that turned the sky black, wildlife running for dear life…. but yeah, a circle about 10 meters in diameter small woop

    i do remember getting hit by a bit of an explodey car tho, that was cool, especially as i was hiding behind a tree… damn you partially exposed shoulder

  22. Kadayi says:


    from Ubi on the issue of their DRM:-

    Some DRM points that will hopefully answer some of your questions and will clarify some misunderstandings about our DRM and SecuROM:

    – You have 5 activations on 3 separate PCs.

    – Uninstalling the game “refunds” an activation. This process is called “revoke”, so as long as you complete proper uninstall you will be able to install the game an unlimited number of times on 3 systems.

    – You can upgrade your computer as many time as you want (using our revoke system)

    – Ubisoft is committed to the support of our games, and additional activations can be provided.

    – Ubisoft is committed to the long term support of our games: you’ll always be able to play Far Cry 2.

    Seems fairly straight forward tbh, and no mention of anyone being charged anything as you seem to imply in your last post.

  23. Nimic says:

    Well, Far Cry 2 is now on Steam. I don’t know what changed (or if this was the plan all along), but for once I decided to take a quick look at the store to see if there was anything new. Lo and behold, Far Cry 2 was there. I wasn’t sure if it was just a slip-up (happened before, The Witcher was on my Steam a while before its release as well). I purchased it though, and it said (EU/AUS).

    Currently downloading at 1.4 MB/s. I’m a bit disappointed that it isn’t faster, but it’s already at 9%, so it’ll do. I won’t get any sleep tonight, though.

  24. Radiant says:

    drm aside on the PC it looks terrible in wide screen as the top and bottom are cropped so your view is nearly halved.
    Apparently there is a fix in the works like they did with bioshock.
    In the mean time dont play this in widescreen.

  25. Radiant says:

    oh I just read up 5 posts my bad.

  26. John Malcolm says:

    I like it in general. Like many people I feel that it has lost some potential by being “dumbed-down” for swollen thumbed console using idiots, but in general I like it.

    Stuff I don’t like:

    1) No prone… heard this was a console controller “not enough buttons thing)
    2) No lean (as above)
    3) No TrackIR support (put all that time into making a game immersive and not at least try basic trackir support? why not?)
    4) No handy compass or watch (or how many diamonds have I got screen)
    5) No ability to use the monocular thingie WITHOUT waving a guge unfolded map about in front of your face.
    6) Gun Dealer missions: Why oh why do these missions always involve attacking a convoy of 2 armed vehicles and 1 truck…. which circle a route even AFTER you’ve attacked them? Why not simply be told they are miving from A to B via C, leaving at such and such a time… end of story.
    7. More wildlife please.
    8. More civs please
    9. I’d rather the AI didn’t shoot on sight… and there was at least the pretence that they waited until they could identify you as enemy.
    10. Unlocking weapons is rubbish…. Why not simply be able to buy, find and maintain weapons…. I don’t get this unlimted supply thing.

    I do like the game though. Great atmospehere… fire… explosions… shooting! Hopefully some stuff will get patched into it.

  27. Pags says:

    My thoughts on this game can be read on the forums, which coincidentally more people ought to populate.

  28. John Malcolm says:

    Oh… for all the pople having problems putting their multiplayer serials in:

    a) They might be caps sensitive
    b) Use the numeric keypad for numbers
    c) Put the hyphens in
    d) Wonder why you bothered… multiplayer seems rather weak and a complete waste of a wonderful map editor. People should drop dead like a sack of potatoes when you shoot them in the face… not continue to shoot back for ages.

  29. Nimic says:

    Okay, after playing this for just a little while, I can safely say that this is nowhere as good as Crysis. Granted, it could massively surprise me in the next couple of hours, but I just don’t like the feel of it, and that includes the actual feel of the controls. To be brutally frank, it feels like it was made for consoles (which it probably was). I’ll still play it, but only time will tell if I’ll ever bother trying to finish it.

  30. Nahual says:

    I went from “This game is awesome!” to “Ok, it’s still good” to “PULLING MY HAIR OUT NOW!” in about 4 hours of game play.

    It’s the damn guard posts, the game is actually does have a very crammed feeling (50 square kms sound like a lot but it’s really just a 7×7 km box) so it actually only takes like about 3-5 mins of pure driving to make it from one corner of the map to the next. So what was the solution to make it seem larger? Litter guard posts all over the map, it’s insane, there’s at least 3 guardpost for ever mile of road, takes 10-20 seconds to get from the one you just killed to the next. And you can’t very much ignore them cause they will get on their trucks and follow you till you die or kill them.

    That by itself didn’t bother me, it was the damn respawns, even if you scout the post, as soon as you drive out of sight they respawn and you have to kill them over and over again. There’s one post i’ve killed about 8 times by now and that was enough for me.

    So this game is just BROKEN for me, I just can’t keep on going with this incredibly lame attempts to artificially lengthen the game. At this point I would have had more fun burning my 50 bucks.

    I kindda envy consoles now, cause I can’t get a refund from Steam.

  31. Teck Lee Tan says:

    So I see a bunch of comments mentioning they’ve finally relented and released it on Steam elsewhere. I go check, and wonderful! Everywhere but bloody Asia. Sigh.

  32. Flint says:

    (or how many diamonds have I got screen)

    You can find that info on the statistics screen.

  33. Paul Moloney says:

    Well, after finding I couldn’t even log into the Ubi.com UK support site (the Terms of Services page has no accept button, and I try to do anything else, I’m logged out) I downloaded the crack and it works.

    Pathetic, isn’t it?

    I’m now in an anti-DRM mood today.


  34. qrter says:

    I have to agree on the guard posts. The respawning is much too fast. It has gotten old very, very quickly.

    I’m kind of surprised at how many people call this game “real” – it’s been a while since I’ve seen the strings as much as in this game, as in that a lot of things are abstracted in such a way that it shows a lot (one is buying a weapon and upgrades once – you can get a new copy of that weapon at one of your safehouses, you’re never carrying a unique copy – maybe there’s a limit to this, it seems like it works that way).

    It’s also interesting to see people comparing this game to STALKER, seeing as STALKER has something that Far Cry 2 sorely misses – a sense of wonder. The world of STALKER is truly a new experience, filled with genuine “what the fuck” moments, which provide a strong momentum for the player to keep moving forward, to keep accepting missions.

  35. Mman says:

    So the game has mysteriously appeared on European Steam?


  36. Larington says:

    I’ve had a few issues myself, started with the guessing which symbols in the reg key are 0 or o and V or U, etc.

    In game, I wish I could say I was getting something as comical as a guard pinning me into a corner and pissing all over my character, but all I seem to be getting atm is certain key talking characters will start doing this wierd left right random strafing (without movement animations).
    The first instance of this I got was the bloke at the guardpost on the cab journey to the hotel, and the guard who did all the talking spent some time doing some comical bouncy human low-riding (like those daft cars in hip hop videos). Comical yes, immersion breaking? Definately.

    I’m also not impressed with the really randomised getting jumped by jeeps thing, theres no explanation for it and little to no warning, so it makes for a really jarring experience.

    Me thinks theres gonna be a patch on the way, it feels as though there was insufficient polish done on this game leading up to release, probably publisher to blame for that (again).

  37. reaver says:

    I’ll just add that the developers went with toggle crouch but you have to hold a button for iron sights. Totally the wrong way round (duck-jumping with toggle crouch sucks, and holding the iron sight gets tedious in a long firefight) and it annoys me incredibly. The worst thing is that there’s no way to reconfigure it.
    Otherwise the first few hours have been fun. I’m not doing any missions – maybe someone who’s completed it can say (in a non-spoilery way) if just by causing random chaos across the map I can meet (and perhaps kill) the jackal?

  38. Kadayi says:

    Jeeps are not the only way to get around. The Buses are quite useful for getting closer to various locations, and the waterways can be quite fruitful in terms of getting you about relatively unmolested as well as finding those elusive diamonds, plus you feel totally Rambo/Apocalypse Now badass going up and down the rivers in your skiff, wearing a Bandana is of course optional ;)

  39. Pags says:

    You made a boo-boo Kadayi, wearing a bandana is mandatory.

  40. Kadayi says:

    It spoils my camouflage;)

  41. K says:

    Well, I don’t know how you’re all managing it. But I’m having problems distinguishing enemies from the environment. I think it’s possibly the only example of a game where they managed to make colours frustrate me. Single most annoying thing about the game for me, even the sky annoys me, grrr!

  42. Kadayi says:

    Don’t scope until you see movement. You kind of look at the middle distance as you pan, and pan slowly.

  43. reaver says:

    K – the difference is that the environment doesn’t shoot at you.

    (Seriously, normal difficulty seems pretty easy so far, let them have the first shot. It’s more exciting.)

  44. Candid_Man says:

    I really wish some peeps find it in themselves to mod that game. So much of what frustrates me about it (apart from marginal consolitis) amount to a few calibrations:
    +enemy respawn time (classic, I know),
    +NPC hostility (if, say, only one in three vehicles or checkpoints recognized you as -that- mercenary – the others would simply ignore you)
    +Some way to bring up the watch and binocular without the map/sleeping
    +Render machete-kill silent. (also, remove that whole “one kill alerts everyone around”)
    +Some other niggles.

    Maybe Ubi will ultimately patch some of this in, but I’m not holding my breath. They have a pretty poor record regarding pc updates.

    And yeah, the bus and fishboats are a blessing to today’s commuting mercenary.

  45. qrter says:

    I love how you can’t move 100 meters in a car without someone pulling up behind you, trying to ram you off the road but when you take a bus nothing happens. Bad people avoid public transport, apparently (well.. except the player character, perhaps).

    I’m really getting annoyed by the diamond case mechanic too – who the hell leaves all these cases lying around and why am I the only one who catches their GPS signal?

    When I go to an arms dealer, everything is animated. I have to sit down behind the computer (took me a while to figure that out, btw), I zoom in on the screen, when I’m done I have to wait for the standing-up-animation. Yet my newly purchased weapon isn’t handed to me by the actual arms dealer himself (who you’d expect I would actually talk to about purchasing a weapon..), it’s in the house next door. I just don’t get that whole thing with all the naturalism and then the strange abstracted ‘weapons out of nowhere’ thing.

    I know, I know, it’s just a game.. it all just feels so terribly artificial to me and arbitrarily so.

    Anyway – I have a question – is there any actual benefit to ‘scoping’ a guardpost, or is it just a completely arbitrary counter going one up, as I’m suspecting it is? (Because at first I was under the silly impression that scoping a guardpost would mean neutralising it in some way, so guards wouldn’t respawn as soon as I looked another way, but no.)

  46. Y3k-Bug says:


    You’re not being silly in your critique at all; you notice the videogamey aspects of the game more because other parts of it are trying so hard to be realistic. The game is really schizophrenic that way. I have to realistically (up to a point anyway) address my wounds by pulling out the shrapnel, but I have to hunt for randomly placed cases with one diamond in them? And since they only have one diamond each in them, why is it worth my time to find them again?

    I have to admit, I don’t think the game is very good at all. I’d have given it a 6/10 personally.

  47. Muzman says:

    While this game does sound like it contains an uneasy mix of gamey and realistic elements at times, a diamond can be worth a staggering amount of money. A single 1 carat brilliant cut diamond of good quality could get you upwards of $20,000 US dollars a couple of year ago.
    Don’t let the candy like way they are scooped up in platform games fool you.

  48. MightyYesac says:

    I find the Assassins Creed comparison fairly apt; not because the game mechanics are similar but because both game worlds feel equally lacking. To wit: FC2 promises an open world, but unclimbable canyons everywhere turn it into a serious of outdoor coridoors, reminiscent of Creed’s Kingdom sequences and not-as-interactive-as-you-think cities. Contrast this with, say Oblivion, where you can go almost anywhere from anywhere with side-quests aplenty to follow or ignore as you like. When wandering “off-mission” in FC2 and Creed you get a sense that there’s little to do but kill generic baddies.
    The best open-world games give you a feeling that the world is alive, and that new menace or adventure lurks everywhere. Far Cry 2 and Creed feel stale and artificial : one has ever-present respawning checkpoints, the other arbitrary horse speed-limits; both leave you, the player, feeling apart from the world, not part of it. Crysis had a less open world with a focused narrative and escalating tension; Oblivion had a rather weak main narrative but hundreds of interesting side tasks. Far Cry 2, for me, falls unhappily in the middle : the narrative is too weak to carry the action, but the gameworld does not deliver the freedom it initially promises.

    Those are my impressions after 6 or 7 hours. It’s not so bad that I can’t play it, but with Fallout 3 imminent I’m liable to abandon Far Cry 2 unless it improves.

  49. Larington says:

    Far Cry 2 certainly is mission centric, and very much in a way of “you can only have one core mission running at a time (Plus alternative/secondary objective via buddy)” and that IS reminiscent of Assassins Creed.

    Whereas if you take something like Deus Ex, Mass Effect, Baldurs Gate 1/2 or Oblivion, missions are much more free-form and you can have tens of quests running at the same time.

    I’m still enjoying Far Cry 2, that said, but it certainly could be ‘more’ – As in, more interactions that don’t involve shooting stuff up, for starters. I suppose this goes back to gameplay as simulation, Far Cry 2 feels like a game, even with its relatively open world setting, whilst Deus Ex feels more like a world, with real people in it (But then wrapped in gameplay afterward).