Saturday, February 14, 2009

Review: Far Cry 2

Originally published on on February 12, 2009

Far Cry 2
Ubisoft/Ubisoft Montreal
M rating
8.5 out of 10

"Far Cry 2," Ubisoft's open sandbox first-person shooter, combines adventure, hours of side quests and an open-world experience.

Set in Africa, "Far Cry 2" puts gamers in the role of a mercenary. You will find yourself working between two factions, and also working with arms dealers on side quests. You also start the game stricken with malaria, which forces gamers to take medicine throughout the game. When you help refugees flee the country, the civilian underground will provide you medicine in lieu of payment. Malaria can hit anytime during the game and the screen will shake.

The most impressive characteristic in the game is the continuously streaming open world. Unless you use the fast-travel bus system, you can travel the African landscape without loading. The graphics are sweet - you will notice the trees swaying, the African wildlife (don't be shocked if you see a rhino or an antelope pass by) - and the landscapes are beautiful. The game uses the Dunia Engine, which delivers realistic destructible environments, real-time day and night cycles and non-scripted enemy A.I.

Another characteristic that is noteworthy how fire can be your ally - or your enemy. Setting a small fire near a group of enemies, with the wind on your back, is more effective than a well-placed RPG. It moves quickly and just like a real blaze, it's unpredictable. Be weary of the wind direction, or you can find yourself in the middle of the blaze you set.

Gameplay is anything but scripted. It's open sandbox and moves at your own pace. You will also work with a buddy merc - you can pick up to nine to work with - and they will come to your aid when you are down and out.

You can get weapons from the arms dealer or pick them up from dead enemies. However, a cool yet frustrating feature with the weapons is the degrade system. If you get a weapon off an enemy, it will likely be corroded. After a few uses, the weapons will likely jam in the middle of a firefight. If you are trying to nail a fleeing enemy, having a weapon jam as you pursue will have you hurling insults at your TV. The weapons you buy from the arms dealer, however, are very reliable and once you buy a weapon, you can always go back and get ammo.

You can also use trucks, SUVs, cars and boats in the game. There are also some other cool vehicles, including a tuned dune buggy and a Jeep. Yes, not a knock-off, but the popular 4-door Jeep Wrangler is available for gamers to use in the game. You can also use the bus transport system to get around the huge map.

Diamonds are king in this game. To buy weapons, you have to use diamonds. You are also paid in diamonds by factions you work for. You can also locate diamonds in the game with your GPS. Most times, they are hidden around the map and some are located and heavily protected.

You will also find safe houses all over the map to save your game. Finding safe houses will likely lead to skirmishes with enemies. After defeating them, the house is yours.

Tired of the main story? There are 70 side quests gamers can delve into to earn weapons, vehicles and gain information.

The controls are very good in "Far Cry 2" - however, controlling vehicles can take getting used to. You can call up the map while you drive, but it can be hard to look at the map and drive.

Also, enemy A.I. can be sketchy at times. Sometimes, you can sneak up to an enemy, in broad daylight, say 'Hello!' and they won't react. It doesn't happen often, fortunately.

You will also find that most people you encounter in the game are enemies and want you dead. The only place you can walk around without having to worry about getting shot at are the neutral zones. It is a shame there are so many enemies because it would be awesome to just cruise around Africa and take in the landscape.

Is it perfect? No - it's a slick-looking shooter and an open sandbox that has cool features, but nothing that stands out. Still, if you are looking for an action-packed shooter that will take you to the heart of Africa, this one is for you.

-- Mad Skillz

No comments: