Far Cry 2 is a hard game to classify and an even harder game to review. Itís not one that can be approached by a casual gamer looking to spend a few minutes here and there; itís a pretty deep game even though the story could have done with some extra spit and polish. Far Cry 2 takes place in Africa and has nothing to do with the previous instalment: Far Cry. It seems that since Ubisoft now own the name Far Cry, which I think they were determined to use for brand recognition and to help sell copies of the game. With over 1 million copies sold, they must have done something right already.
You pick from one of several male characters, the rest become buddies sprinkled throughout the gameís storyline and massive 50km world. There are two warring factions and a mysterious protagonist (The Jackal) to contend with, old Jackal is an arms dealer who seems determined to re-ignite a conflict in Africa and sell, sell, sell to the warring sides. You are sent to take him out and in a lengthy first person introduction that reminded me of the tram scene from Half Life (how I loved that) youíre driven into Africa by a chatty taxi driver.
Things donít go as planned and you contract malaria, the rest Iíll leave up to you to experience, suffice it to say that I didnít actually see it coming. Far Cry 2 is a sandbox-style shooter that has two acts, both split between a northern territory and a southern, taking place over a combined total of 50km of beautifully crafted Africa. The engine (Dunia) is capable of producing some pretty slick vistas with minimal pop-up and pop-in even when travelling in one of the many vehicles in the game. When you finish the rather lengthy tutorial youíre left alone to explore the massive game world and approach missions, side-missions and diversions to your heartís content. There are a lot of these; some of them unlock weapons at the arms dealer. You can upgrade your arsenal there.
There are two warring factions, the UFLL and APR. You can play these off against each other and earn diamonds (the main currency in the game) by performing various missions. Youíll also get a couple of buddies (who can die so be careful) to help you out. One will become your best buddy and provide you with alternative mission solutions and opportunities (these help upgrade your safehouses) in the faction missions, the other is a sort of mobile field medic come search and rescue operative. Theyíll pull your bacon out of the fire if you go down.
Thereís a minimal game interface that lets you track your health and weapon ammo. Your health works on a regenerating system of rectangular indicators, as long as you have a part of a box it will regenerate to the maximum of that particular block. Should you lose too much health youíll start to bleed to death and youíll need to perform a quick field-medic repair to your body. These can range from pulling slugs out of your skin with pliers, setting a broken arm or cutting a bullet from a wound. Itís all viewed in first person immersion, so that you donít lose that sense of being in the game.
The system works very well and makes the combats exciting and fun; having to take cover and fix a bullet wound during an intense battle adds an edge to the gunfights that might normally be lacking. You can medicate yourself with a syringe of sorts and that will fully restore your health. You can also use those to help a dying buddy in the field. (If youíre like someone else we know, you can draw your gun and put them out of your misery)
From time to time youíll suffer malaria attacks and have to take pills; these pills arenít unlimited as you follow the story. Youíll have to undergo certain missions for the Underground to get more. It helps add another sense of urgency and unpredictability to the proceedings as many times I found myself coming across a checkpoint full of hostiles only to need to take a pill as I started to suffer from the onset of the symptoms.