|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Take note though: beauty is not only skin deep. Bridges that look like they will crumble, will crumble given the right push. You can drive a jeep through their flimsy rails and careen into a shallow riverbed. Buildings constructed out of shoddy two-by-fours and scrap metal can be blown apart, sending the rudimentary building materials in many directions. Even your body is apt for gross display, destruction, and a somewhat rough form of resurrection. If your health meter dips to one bar, you're in dangerous territory that remaining bar will drain, rendering you a corpse.
However, you can perform some nasty frontier medicine. The animations are chosen at random and look gruesome every time. Pulling a bullet out of your thigh with pliers or digging a slug out of your arm with a knife is hellish but also a functional design choice. By not opting for a regenerating health system, Far Cry 2 forces you to think before you go into a fight. You can't just hide behind a rock and wait for your health to heal constitution is a truly limited resource.
You will take damage and have to endure those patch-up animations frequently due to the rock solid A.I. that Far Cry 2 employs. Enemies take cover in traditional ways like hiding behind rocks and walls and they use an ample amount of stealth. They'll often creep through shallow grass to sneak up on you. You might think you've encountered one soldier, only to find three more sprout out of the ground. They work together in other ways too. One may shout, I'm out! Reloading! and his teammate will unload fire on your position so his partner can change out a clip. In a nod to the realism, sometimes things get comical. You may set off an explosion near a jeep, which sends it sliding down a hill into a river bed. The gunner may bail out early, while the driver nervously slams on the gas, hoping against the laws of physics that he can stop his inevitable descent.
All this mercenary risk doesn't come at little reward. Shunning standard forms of currency, the citizens of the in-game economy only take diamonds. You are awarded these once you accept contracts (there are also bonus cases of diamonds scattered around the world), and you can use them to purchase upgrades for your vast inventory. By visiting a weapons store, you can unlock new weapons, upgrade their accuracy and reliability, and increase their ammunition capacity. It's a smart system: it introduces an RPG-like element - something normally not seen in first person shooters.
Developing such a robust world is a feat in itself, and giving players the keys to design their version of it is a gracious offer. Far Cry 2's map editor puts a lot of options at your fingertips. You can play around with templates for settings like a desert oasis or mountain valley, or just start from a barren plot of dirt. After that becomes your playground throw down roads, setup fortresses, raise or lower ground there's not a lot you can't do. A nice feature is the performance indicator bar. When it's green, it means that the map, as laid out, will run smoothly. Once it hits orange, you need to start optimizing, and if you hit red, be prepared for some shuddering. Any map can be saved and then shared with the Far Cry 2 community.
Taking a page from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, all the multiplayer modes Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Diamond, and Uprising allow you use a particular class of character. Each class has its own strengths. For example, Guerrillas can carry IEDs and Saboteurs pack a dart rifle and silenced handgun. Once you start gaining XP the standard load outs like the Commando's G3-KA4 and Star .45 they get upgraded with more lethal negotiators, like an AK-47 and M-79 Grenade Launcher. This upgradeable class system breathes much need variety into the otherwise standard multiplayer modes. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are self-explanatory, and first-person shooter staples like Capture the Diamond just replaces the conventional flag with a canister of diamonds. Uprising offers a little bit of a twist. You cap points on the map, but instead of just holding them, the team that captures all the points first and then tries to assassinate the leader of the other team.
It's a common assumption that the big kid in the sandbox is Grand Theft Auto and that shooters aren't welcome to play. Far Cry 2 kicks up the sand and shows what a great development team is capable of delivering an engaging world that puts choice of play at the forefront. Direction is sometimes a developer's worst enemy, tempting them always to restrict the player. By adopting a laissez faire attitude to player discretion, Ubisoft has crafted a brilliant follow-up.
CCC Freelance Writer