New, Used, Abused: Farcry 2

Foreward: When I bought this game at the GAME store in Bathurst, they gave me a copy of the Fortune’s Pack DLC for free, which gave me new vehicles and weapons (as well as Multiplayer maps, but the multiplayer community is dead). Woo GAME! Buy your games from GAME! I just wish they had a better name.

Farcry 2 is a game by developers Ubisoft, in stark comparison to the general formula of sequels the game actually has nothing to do with Farcry, besides shooting people really.

You start off the game as 1 of 9 different playable characters, tasked by a US Government divison to kill a chap called ‘The Jackel”, who’s been supplying arms to both sides of the conflict (I chose Andre, he had the most similar hair and name to me, always a plus.) However within your first few seconds of precious cutscene you contract malaria somehow and passout. Then you awake to find the guy you were sent to kill NURSING you back to health, though he seems a little pissed that you’ve got orders to assassinate him. He however seems like a genuinely nice guy, you know, past the psycotic arms dealer thing. He then lets you live, telling you you’ll have to find something else to do with your time.

Genuinely, I felt I wanted to keep out of his hair. For a guy you’ve been sent to assassinate to mend you up from the brink of DEATH, it seemed like the least I could do. Unfortunately I was swept up in a cascade of storyline, and was rescued from death by one of the warring factions, the ULFF. At least I THINK it was the ULFF. It was pretty difficult to tell, both sides don’t have that much difference between them.After a couple of missions I was pretty much released into the open world, to enjoy the diverse forests, barren deserts, etc.

First thing that’s notable is the game is in first person the entire time. No 3rd person cutscenes, no vehicle-cam, just straight FPS. And it’s really immersive, especially with the fully visible character body, the expressive 1st person animations of your character, and the minimal HUD. It draws you in very skillfully, which makes it pretty decent to me already.

The first couple of missions were pretty standard, go to certain place, destroy certain object/person. It’s a tried and true method. But the first thing that struck me when I left the local mission-town, the outpost I’d wiped out a couple of minutes earlier had mysteriously repopulated.

First thought was that I felt the game had cheated me somehow. Though I slowly realised that in an actual war places of strategic importance generally don’t go left alone, especially since the opposite force had proceeded to drive away at breakneck speed after clearing the place out.

Made sense, so I figured I’d do my best to stay out of the people’s way. But that was easier said than done, most of the place is contained within heavy bushland, meaning that it was more or less unavoidable that I’d have to fight some people in my travels.

Now normally I don’t have a problem with fighting. Hell, it’s why I play games in the first place, but the idea of killing enemies when they’re going to be replaced in 5 minutes just feels so… pointless. I mean in most games you can clear out an area and bam, you’ve got a safe zone. You’ve made the world, particularly this 20×20 metre square, a better place. But here, you’ve got to slog your way through countless hordes of people, and while realistic, it just feels irritiating. Of course the other option would be to have the camps stay cleared, but frankly that’d lead to me clearing the world in a couple of hours and somehow there’s a war going on after all the troops have died.

I kept on with the missions, but they had a bad case of being very similar too. I mean the objectives were different and there was always a reason for them to be done, storyline wise, but they boiled down to killing the people in the area, pressing ‘e’ on or blowing up the object in question.

This game has a bad case of what is referred to as ‘combat fatigue’ (Coined by the nice chaps at Valve). It’s when the player has been fighting for far too long, and it begins to make them feel frustrated, of course how much too long is is different from person to person. Typically you can break this up by giving the player some constructive puzzles or something similar to release the tension, but this game can’t really pull that off, being a Sandbox game. They have a fun mechanic where you can hunt for dimonds hidden around the world, and the exploration, though annoyingly limited in some areas, is very fun, but there’s a big wall for me when it comes to driving.

Africa, being a very large place, will require you to do some driving if you want to get places. I mean you can walk, but it’s probably faster to drive. While the driving is alright in itself, it makes you wait a fair ammount of time until you can get to your desination, which kind of irks me. I mean I play games to unwind etc, not to practice a driving simulator.

The storyline, is truely intruiging. I crave more, which keeps me going through this game, which at times I feel like a bit of a slogfest. The Jackel is someone that, while seemingly evil, there’s more to his intentions than initially revealed, and I can’t help but think he might be onto something. The only problem is to get to these wonderful parts of story I must go through missions that become pretty much all the same and travel that feels like I’m doing the 2 hour drive from my Uni to home. And because I want more of the story, the more I try to rush through the missions and combat, which makes me more frustrated

All this frustration and hopelessness though makes me feel like it was at least partly intentional. Maybe they were trying to illustrate how pointless war is, or emulate the feelings of the character who’s seeking revenge on the person who robbed him of his career.Though this may be silly to assume, it could equally be they thought that players like constant combat.

The buddy system is quite good, you have NPCs scattered around the world, guys you didn’t pick as your character, and guys that’re just there to hang around you. How you find them can be pretty cool, I rescued some random chick that’s plane fell out of the SKY. They can rescue you when you die, a sort of backup system, but when they’re in the world with you there’s a chance that they could die.
First they’ll go down, and call for help. From there you can choose to heal them, leave them, or put them out of their misery.
Though sometimes it’s not enough. They’re not uberhumans (well maybe they are, but they have limits), they can die. I was raiding a treasure stash with my buddy Josip, and it ended up in a massacre. They died, and he was there, crying for help. I put in 3 syrettes into him, before he passed out and died. And I felt genuinely sympathetic to his demise, which is a landmark for me personally, it takes a lot of effort into making people feel for a charcter they know doesn’t exist.

Something random I’d like to mention are the fire physics in the game. They’re absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen fire that’s been programmed so well. You throw a molotov at a patch of grass, the grass will burn down. And any trees, people, wooden buildings etc that’s in it’s range. It’s really pretty and actually serves a tactical advantage as well, the AI coming to investigate and try to put it out.

This is a really good game, and there’s so much to like about it, but personally I find I can’t play for too long without getting so bored with the compulsory travel sections and the constant fighting. The environments are stunning, and everything fuctions really well, and the storyline is really intruiging, but it’s a bit of a slog to get to the good parts. Pick it up if you can stand constant fighting and are partial to a bit of high quality storyline.

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