The mercenary lifestyle has been regularly explored during the last few years. Most notably in the likes of the Mercenaries series, and stunning PC shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
The sequel to the ever impressive PC based Far Cry has been ushered down this now solidly well trodden route, this time dumping you slap bang into the middle of a fictional African country gripped by civil war. You start with just one simple objective: to find a famed arms dealer known only as the Jackal, and bring an end to his nefarious trade.
After a brief tutorial based opening section welcoming you to the delights of the Jackal, your malaria, the two sides of the current conflict, and the huge game world, you’re handed control of where the game will take you next.
Think Grand Theft Auto with much more impressive gunplay and you’re just about there. Factions and people populate the African world you’ll call home who will be happy to give you missions that will either help you completely your ultimate goal of killing the Jackal, or give you unimportant (in terms of the story at least) tasks in order to obtain malaria medication that will keep the disease at bay. The story, sadly, isn’t quite up there with the likes of Deus Ex.
There’s been much made of the malaria that you’re confronted with, the worry being that it could constrain your movement and keep you stuck to a tight path rather than allowing you to explore. Thankfully this certainly isn’t the case, with it merely an afterthought for the majority of the game. All it takes is a popped pill, even in the middle of a brutal fire fight, and you’re back at one hundred percent.
Not that brutal fire fights have to be the norm. With merely objectives to fulfil, this is one game where you can truly complete them however you wish. Utilising the games day/night cycle to its full, you can easily attack a camp in the dead of night, stalking enemies with your handy machete and getting the job done without gaining any attention. Or, you can go in all guns blazing and cause absolute hell with the mass of weaponry available to you.
To say that firepower is plentiful is doing the game a disservice. Everything from pistols, to rifles, rocket launchers, and Molotov cocktails are here and ready to be used. While your shop bought weaponry will work absolutely perfectly, if you’re forced to use one of the guns dropped by a fallen enemy, it could be prone to jam and even stop working altogether at any moment. Again, this could have been a huge minus point for the game is included inappropriately, but it’s easily overcome by avoiding dropped weapons unless you’re in true desperate need.
Despite the incredible size of the game world – over 50 square kilometres – it all looks dazzlingly beautiful. Everything looks and feels realistic, from the grubby vehicles, through to the wild fires that will rapidly spread if an explosion is unlucky enough to hit the dry grass. It’s definitely one of the best looking titles available, and considering the large size of the game world and wealth of possibilities, that’s a major bow for the arrow.
With such a large and expansive title to enjoy you’d expect a few flaws to have seeped through into the full finished game. And in Far Cry 2 a couple do remain in the finished code. Though none do anything more than drag the final score down a point.
The biggest is the unresponsive, and sometimes idiotic, AI. While your enemies will at times show incredible intelligence by flanking your position and funnelling you into almost inescapable conflicts, at others they seem nothing short of idiotic. While you crouch behind cover, expect to hear the repetitive gunshots of an enemy repeatedly blasting point blank into the cover they’re cowering behind. If it wasn’t for the impressive audio, this would almost be a complete nonentity, but the quality included here can make this one truly irritating.
Even the stunning graphics actually act slightly to the games detriment, with the occasional glitch and hint of pop in standing out way more than they would in less good looking titles.
With a single player campaign which can take easily above 25 hours to finish, combined with the stunning technical performance on offer, it’s only the sometimes daft AI that stops Far Cry 2 from being the new king of the genre.
Toss in an incredibly robust map editor too to take online, and you have yourself a trip to Africa that simply has to be made.