11 December, 2008

Review: Far Cry 2


And here's a silly video. It's me playing FC2 while listening to a bizarre Christmas song. This is the heavily annotated version. NO TAILGATERS!

So, back to the business at hand. I enjoyed Far Cry 2. There were a lot of issues with the game that tarnished it. I was warned about some of them on various podcasts.

Don't swim if you can avoid it. If you get a malaria attack in the water, you drown.

Make sure to keep a "rescue buddy" primed, so if you go down, an AI buddy will rescue you and keep you from losing progress. There are quick saves, too. But they seem to crash the game for many people. I never quick saved. I never crashed. Of course, I was also playing a cracked executable. Cracked executables are often more stable than the retail releases. I'm assuming this is because copy protection code is often a last minute addition and doesn't play well with the game proper.

Do the bonus missions. When you get a job, a fellow mercenary will offer you a longer chain of missions. Some people hate these because they make the game take longer. But the more interesting objectives were the only thing that gave the game any amount of character and variety.

I also had my expectations kept low in the area of immersion. Everyone in Africa wants you dead. There are no civilians, outside of safe buildings. No matter which side you're helping, their foot soldiers shoot you on sight. No retreat. No surrender.

I was not prepared for the ridiculous ability of the AIs to shoot through foliage (and occasionally solid rock) with perfect accuracy. Luckily the game is pretty forgiving on normal difficulty, but it was still annoying.

I was also not prepared for all AIs to go on alert even if I kill someone silently and completely out of view. Stealth (even with the upgraded camo outfit) is largely broken because of this.

Yeah, there are a lot of annoyances. But the simple fun of shooting guys basically works. Getting the high ground and cleaning out an outpost with a sniper rifle and running in with a machine gun and mowing everyone down both have their merits. And the game is pretty scenic.

I also found the moral issues the game raised at least somewhat interesting. The basic plot (Remember the spoiler warning?) is that you're a CIA agent sent to kill another rogue agent by infiltrating mercenary groups.

Immediately, you're taking on horrible missions. One side is making malaria medicine. The other side is afraid this will earn them money and good will, so you're tasked with taking out the facility. You're killing good people just because they helped "the wrong side".

In one of the key points in the story, you learn that you've been doublecrossed and you have to choose to save some civilians or your fellow mercs. I figured the mercs knew the risks, so I helped the civies. Later on, those mercs showed up to try and kill me. I played that section of the game twice.

The first time, I fought. I didn't want to, but they opened fire. The last one to go down was the guy I'd spent most of the second half of the game with. He was a crazy SOB. I didn't like him at first. But the situation had gotten so screwed up, I came to see his recklessness and general craziness as a reasonable response to an insane situation. We did piles of stupid stuff together. When the other mercs showed up, he told them we didn't need to fight. So there he is on the ground writhing.

That's a common animation for the AI buddies. If you leave them, they die. If you have spare medical supplies, you can save them. For a moment, I had a glimmer of hope. Sure, I had to kill all these morons, but if I saved him, maybe he might not come back as hostile. Maybe. So I went through the standard animation where I check for serious injuries before pulling out the needle. But no needle came up. Then the pistol came up. $%(@. I had no choice. The camera moves to look away as you pull the trigger.

It would have been pretty emotional if it had made any sense.

Then I reloaded the game and took a different tack. I just grabbed the suitcase full of diamonds they wanted and ran off. They never caught me. And they all lived.

Of course then the final mission forces the main character to kill himself, which makes not the slightest bit of sense, especially in my case, as I had remote bombs (called IEDs for maximum moral ambiguity) which I used to detonate the dynamite I was supposed to kill myself with. Of course, they failed to do anything because the dynamite was scripted to only explode when triggered by the suicide animation. Yet again, the game had the opportunity to provide a way out and a way for the player to feel they had choices that mattered. But no. They thought the message that the only way to deal with violent people is to kill them all was more important.

Maybe I'm talking myself out of the impression that I liked the game. :P

3 of 5

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