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Far Cry 2

 

Far Cry 2

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
 
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8.5
8.5
9
8.5
 
Author:

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

Features:

Players: 1-16
Online Multiplayer: 2-16
System Link: 2-16
6MB to Game Save
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
Custom Soundtracks
In-Game Dolby Digital
Spectator Mode
Content Download

It has been almost four years since I first gave Far Cry Instincts a spin on the original Xbox, and ever since I have been a fan of the franchise. Everything from the picturesque tropical island setting to Far Cry’s online community has not only been a staple for me but for Ubisoft as well. The feral powers and the voice work by Stephen Dorff all contributed to what I felt was a great series of games. So it comes as no surprise that Far Cry is back, but this time with a true sequel in Far Cry 2. Jack Carver, zombies and feral powers are all gone. In fact, if it was not for the games title you would not know it was a Far Cry game at all. I had my first taste of Far Cry 2 at E3 in LA earlier this year when visiting Ubisoft’s booth and I have to say I was very skeptical about this newest instalment. The visuals looked good and the game seemed enjoyable but being a fan of the previous games I questioned the direction Far Cry 2 was taking. Well, after several hours with the game I have to say many of my fears have been put to rest.

Graphics

As I suggest at the top, Far Cry 2 has gone in a different direction when compared to the Far Cry Instincts and Predator games. The tropical island paradise has been replaced with an African wilderness backdrop and the results are stunning. Once again the visuals are a strong point and the change of scenery does not hurt the franchise is any way.

To say that the Central African locale where Far Cry 2 takes place is huge is truly an understatement. The open-environment where you are free to roam is approximately 50 square kilometres. Given the size of the game it amazes me that nothing was sacrificed with regards to the in-game visuals. When driving through jungles and savannahs the detail is amazing. The lush environments look fantastic and you truly get the sense you are in a place you should not be. The water effects are equally as stunning but this comes as no surprise as the water has always looked great in any Far Cry game. The lighting effects in Far Cry 2 are second to none as well. The transition from day to night is impressive. It amazes me how the shadows from the trees actually move on the ground as the day progresses. I don’t recall another game which was able to pull off this effect the way the developers have with Far Cry 2.

In terms of the character animations Far Cry 2 is strong but certainly not the best we have seen in recent years. All the game’s characters could have used some more work in this area as there is not much in the way of variation from one enemy to another. Nevertheless they move smoothly and react quite naturally. The detail in the weapons is also quite good, but again this comes as no surprise as Ubisoft has always been able to raise the bar in the weapons department when it comes to their shooter games.

Technically speaking Far Cry 2 is very smooth and I did not experience any major slowdown in the framerate. This is very impressive when you consider the draw distance of the game which is simply spectacular. I should also mention that the online visuals are as equally as stunning and it does not appear anything was sacrificed with in this area for the online component. Both the single player and multiplayer visuals in Far Cry 2 are slick and many will find the overall look of the game to be impressive.

Sound

In terms of the sound, Far Cry 2 scores high marks. When venturing through the different locales you really got the sense that you are somewhere in Africa where there is plenty of civil unrest. I found I was rarely at ease when playing as I never knew when one of the many armed rebels or civilians would turn on me. The soundtrack, in-game sound effects, and jungle sounds all contribute to this too.

For starters, the musical score is solid. It can be repetitive at times however it does sound great in 5.1 surround sound. The music has a Hollywood blockbuster feel to it and surround sound encoding furthers its’ impact. The music also effectively amps-up its style as the action becomes more and more intense during gameplay. Even after shutting off the game I found myself humming some of those big sweeping musical tunes hours after playing.

Additionally the in-game sound effects are once again a strong point for the franchise. The savannah and jungle sounds, including birds chirping, trees and bushes swaying, and the sounds of high grass and brush crunching as you walk over it, all sound incredibly real. Overall, the developers did a wonderful job with the in-game sound effects.

As far as the weapon sounds are concerned Far Cry 2 delivers and they do pack a punch. Many of the weapons manage to have their own unique sounds and at times certain weapons can jolt you out of your chair. Bottomline, the sounds of the guns and explosions are fantastic. One last note in terms of the audio, the voice acting is also incredibly well done. The voices are clear and engaging. All in all, I had no real concerns with the audio package in Far Cry 2.

Gameplay

Ever since Far Cry 2 was announced back in January of this year Ubisoft marketed it as a true sequel to the original. Based on gamer feedback, Jack Carver, crazy zombies and the science fiction aspect of the previous games are now gone. Instead Far Cry 2 brings new characters, new environments, and a new style of gameplay. The developers wanted to take a more realistic approach and it pays off as Far Cry 2 feels like you have been thrown into the middle of a nasty civil war.

In terms of the story, Far Cry 2 takes place in a modern day Africa that is in a state of anarchy and civil war. The government has recently collapsed leaving two factions fighting for control. The United Front for Liberation and Labour and the Alliance for Popular Resistance each claim to have the peoples interests at heart, however both have been nothing but ruthless and violent. At the center of the civil strife is an arms dealer named The Jackal. You take on the roll of a mercenary who is on a lengthy journey to seek and destroy him. By exploring Far Cry 2’s open world, meeting up with other characters, completing missions for various factions, upgrading your weapons, collecting diamonds, and doing whatever is necessary, your goal is to eventually take out The Jackal. Overall, the story is decent but there is still a part of me that misses some of the over-the-top story telling from the previous games. Nevertheless, the Far Cry 2’s story is intriguing and holds your interest over the course of the single player campaign which can easily take over 20 hours to complete.

The single player campaign is a drastic departure from previous games in the franchise as Far Cry 2 is more open resulting in a sandbox style game. Here you are free to explore and complete missions as you see fit. It is great for those who do not like to be held captive by linear mission based games, but those who prefer more structure may not enjoy Far Cry 2’s concept. Additionally you are not stuck with one main character either. You can choose from nine different characters to play in the single player mode and each one has a unique look and back story. Essentially, all are different types of mercenaries. A great aspect about the game is that the characters that you don’t choose still appear throughout the game’s story. They tend to show up as fellow mercenaries and can be used to complete missions. Also, when a player and a fellow mercenary have established a solid relationship he will come to the player's aid if they get injured and vice versa.

As with any shooter or action based game the combat is critical and in Far Cry 2 it is pretty good. Sure, it is not the best we have seen but it is solid nonetheless. You spend a great deal of time travelling around but when the fighting begins Far Cry 2 shines. Your typical weapons are found in Far Cry 2 and your player has can carry a handheld weapon, a rifle, a special weapon and melee weapon. All of these choices are accessed using the D-Pad and this system works to perfection. A cool feature in the game is that some weapons you come across can be older and they can occasionally jam. Of course you can always upgrade your gun as you progress. You can even un-jam the gun during the game. Small details like adds a bit more realism. Of course you can always upgrade your gun as you progress.

The enemy AI is about as smart as I have seen in recent memory. Not only are they a little tougher to take down but they also flank the ‘bejeebers’ out of you. I had a heck of a time in many areas and found the enemies to react to my every move. Granted there were some occasions where they did not respond as they should and stood around like morons, especially when a grenade would go off only few feet away from them. Regardless of these occasions the AI was smarter then a lot of other AI enemies in other FPS games I have played in the past.

I did have a couple of issues with the game that managed to irritate me somewhat. Far Cry 2 does not allow you to save anywhere. Instead you have to locate boxes on walls found in various locations throughout the game’s locales. These boxes then allow you to save your progress. It didn't bother me until I had to quickly wrap-up a game. It was at these times that locating a box became a time consuming endeavor. The other issue I had was that Far Cry 2 includes an incredible amount of driving. In the beginning it is enjoyable as the scenery is phenomenal. Nevertheless it does wear on you after awhile and becomes tedious driving from one location to another. It was a times like these that I wondered where Niko Belic's taxi when I needed it. These two issues are not deal breakers, just annoyances that I noted.

An area where the franchise has consistently excelled is in the multiplayer department. Far Cry 2 is no different and this area is once again a strong point. The map editor is back and offers up an endless amount of environments to play in. It is vastly improved this time around as well. For those unfamiliar with the franchise Ubisoft has always included a make-your-own level editor in each Far Cry game released. In its latest form the editor is a very user-friendly device that will allow players to design their own maps, save them on their hard drive and make them available for download to other users online. Downloading of the maps is quicker this time around too. On the downside, the game won’t allow for maps from the previous games to be imported and it does take time and patience to build a quality map. However, the map editor is arguably one of the best features of the game.

Online matches can include a maximum of 16 players with four modes available. These modes include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Diamond (similar to Capture the Flag), and Uprising. All are self-explanatory with the exception of Uprising. The Uprising mode involves two teams with a captain on each side. Only captains can capture certain points across the map, and a team must assassinate the enemy captain after capturing all the points to win the round. All the modes offer plenty of variety and are lot of fun. The games are balanced and there is no major slowdown during when playing.

Multiplayer gameplay is class based as well. There are six classes which include Commando, Sharpshooter, Guerrilla, Rebel, Gunner and Saboteur. The Commando is your standard fighter, the Sharpshooter is your long range specialist, the Guerrilla is great in close combat, the Rebel uses explosives and fire, the Gunner packs a punch with heavy weaponry, and the Saboteur is your stealth fighter. Each class can choose a primary weapon and a side arm, as well as an explosive device. You can upgrade your weapons by gaining experience points as well. Overall, it makes for a highly addicting experience and will keep you coming back for more. Throw in the map editor and you have an endless amount of content to keep you coming back for months.


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