First Impressions: Far Cry 2

December 31, 2009

Another ‘old’ game (released in October 2008) that I received as a Christmas present, I initially expected not to enjoy Far Cry 2. The gritty setting and the emphasis on realism is something I normally shy away from in first-person shooters – I like my videogames to stand apart from their equivalents in other media, which is why I adore games like Bioshock. But after seven or so hours of play, Far Cry 2 has pulled me right in to its fictional, war-torn African state, even though, at this point at least, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what is going on.

The reason for my lack of insight into the plot is the fact that I’ve been almost perpetually distracted from the main missions by the side quests. A weapons merchant has had me blowing me up convoys all over the map, with the promise of shiny new destructive toys to play with as my reward. Intercepted radio antennae transmissions have seen me sneak up on suited targets and assassinate them, and escape the ensuing shitstorm I’ve stirred up. Safehouses need to be cleared of hostiles to unlock them in order to save my game, and then there’s bossy Flora Guillem, my ‘buddy’, who insists on sending me into further danger in the name of freeing the country from the tyranny of the infamous arms dealer ‘The Jackal’ (that much I know at least).

The huge distances between mission start points and the objectives is beginning to grate, particularly as lengthy drives through the arid landscape tends to attract the attention of the militia of the two feuding factions, often resulting in frequent firefights at the guard posts dotted along the routes. But a few beautfiul details take the edge off such grievances; the way the sun flickers through the parched foliage, the bounding gazelles that leap away from your jeep, the way the game shows a time-lapse of night turning into day and vice versa when you hunker down for the night on a stained mattress in one of the unlocked safehouses. These touches, along with jamming firearms, frequents attacks of malaria and the plaintive strings accompanying the action all combine to paint a majestic but menacing picture of just what your character has got himself into.

Hopefully I’ll learn what the hell is going on as I play it further, if I can just drag myself away from those side missions for long enough to progress the story.


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