Far Cry 2

Mikey 3 comments
Far Cry 2

I've deliberately held back reviewing Far Cry 2 for one simple reason: I was not completely sure if I liked or disliked it. Having immensely enjoyed the first Far Cry I was expecting more of the same in the second game, and technically that's what I got. But there was something I that irked me, something I couldn't put my finger on until recently.

The problem is with some of the game AI. When a sequel to a game is released there is IMHO a realistic expectation that some things have improved. In Far Cry 2 the graphics are significantly better and really are awesome. Loading is also almost non-existent, as you can run around an entire massive map without any loading at all. But the game AI suffers from the same problem as the original Far Cry.

Let me paint a picture. You're sneaking up on an enemy camp over 100 metres away. There's plenty of foliage and trees to conceal your position and you're crouched just for added protection. Further adding to stealth is ambient sounds of the forest and the heavy rain drops bouncing off leaves and nearby objects. Yet somehow in among all these sounds, an enemy soldier from the other side of the lake will be able to hear and pinpoint your location, and consequently alert the others. But sometimes, you can walk right up behind someone in the middle of the clear still day without incident.

Another example of the flakey AI is with your team mates, or 'rescue buddies' as they are called in this game. While a lot of effort has obviously gone into making them an integral part of getting you out of hairy situations, they suddenly lose their self preservation instincts the moment a fire breaks out, and instead of running away, they usually stand and wait to be burned alive, or sometimes even just run into it.

This inconsistent AI can be frustrating at times, but that failing is made up for in other areas.

It's been said that “graphics do not maketh the game”, usually by Wii fan boys stuck on past generation graphics, but I have to disagree. A good game engine can mean the difference between being totally immersed in the environment, or constantly being distracted by odd looking idiosyncrasies. COD5 is a shining example of an engine that looks nice at first but it isn't long before you realise just how static and limiting the environment is.

Set in an unnamed African state during a civil war, Far Cry 2 makes great use of the Dunia engine which was created for this game. And it's easily the closest thing to the fabulous Crysis (Cryengine 2) to date. Every leaf casts a shadow and shimmers in the breeze. Water and dust react just how you would expect. It has stunning real-time weather effects, a day-night cycle, and dynamic fire propagation. Every object has a physical reaction to the surroundings, be it fire, wind, rain or the percussion from a grenade explosion. And the landscape is absolutely massive without any loading from town to town.

Briefly on the subject of fire propagation, it is seriously awesome and can be used as part of your tactical arsenal. You can for example, throw a Molotov cocktail into the dry grass and the wind will push the fire in the right direction, flushing out the enemy or even better, leaving them with no way out to suffer a grizzly death.

There is a high level of details in the towns, objects and characters, and you can easily lose hours just exploring the African plains. Combined with the quality sound design you really get a feeling of 'being there'. I won't speak any more of the graphics and will let the screen shots below do the talking instead.

As for the game play, it's very similar to Far Cry but there is even more freedom afforded if you can believe that. You can choose your own routes accept or reject mission offers from dubious characters with political agendas, but while this is happening you will have to take care of your own health as you've been stuck down with Malaria. If you don't keep it under control you could be in the middle of a battle and everything will go blurry. Medicine can be acquired, but of course it is in exchange for favours. Side quests involve looking for suitcases with contain diamonds, and can be used to buy reliable weapons. Although you can pick up and use enemy weapons, they are prone to jamming at a critical moment. Diamonds are also awarded upon the completion of missions. That said, I stopped going out of my may to find these suitcases as the reward for completing a single mission is far greater than the number of suitcases you are likely to find until then.

You can also take refuge in safe houses, where you can set the alarm on your watch to wake you at a desired time. This not only lets you interact with your rescue buddy, but it's also handy if you're not keen on taking out the bad guys in broad daylight, using the night to your advantage.

Your rescue buddy will come to your aid when you take a near fatal hit. It's an odd arrangement because he/she will happily put their life at great risk for nothing of value in return. But I'm not complaining. Josip has come to my rescue on many occasions and that makes my job easier. I just wish you could actually bring him along to help with the mission instead of just rescue.

I should take a moment now to talk about the game difficulty. This is where the game designers have failed miserably. Increasing the game difficulty would usually mean one of many things. Perhaps the enemy AI is made smarter, or even the number of enemy is increased. But in Far Cry 2, wait for this... difficulty is simply decided by the number of bullets it takes to kill an enemy. Playing on normal difficulty is a very frustrating when you can unload 3 - 5 rounds into the chest of an assailant only to have him still duck and take cover while you reload. Here on the planet Earth, a single bullet to the chest will at the very least cause instant pain and shock followed not long after by bleeding to an agonising death. If I had known this before I would have played the game on 'easy' just to have the enemy go down in a single bullet or 2.

At the end of the day Far Cry 2 is great immersive fun. If you've got a rig that can run it at full settings you will drool as I did over the beautifully rendered African terrain. It's obviously a technology showcase with a game slapped in the middle, but it's definitely worth it.

Here are some screenshots I took on not quite the highest settings.

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The Computer Whisperer

The Computer Whisperer

Tuesday 10th February 2009 | 07:36 PM
89 total kudos

I actually found the first game to be incredibly boring. The interaction with the scenery was good, but I just got sick of spending 20 minutes sneaking and nothing much else.

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Tuesday 10th February 2009 | 09:05 PM
43 total kudos

phew thought i was a wrotten shot, the baddies do take some bullits before they die

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Wednesday 11th February 2009 | 06:43 AM
235 total kudos

...in response to this comment by andrew. No you're definitely hitting them. They're just immune to the first few bullets.

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