There’s no point beating about the bush here: Far Cry 2 is a huge game. The reviewers’ notes that came with our test copy describe the game in 20-hour chunks, and it’s clear that – contrary to the majority of modern day first person shooters – UbiSoft has gone to great lengths to ensure a deep, long-lasting title. It’s certainly been well worth the effort.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, though, we need to quickly talk about Far Cry. The developers of the original game, CryTek, have long since fled the UbiSoft label, and instead gave us Crysis and the recent Crysis: Warhead.
Thus, this sequel has nothing to do with CryTek, and in many ways has little to do with the original game. The characters are new, it’s set on a different continent and the plotline is radically different in tone. Heck, for much of the early part of the game you’re battling malaria and continually hunting for medication. In short, it just happens to be a very big first person shooter that’s had a Far Cry coat put over the top.
Its key feature is, undoubtedly, the sheer size and scale of it. Far Cry 2′s game world is in the region of 50 square kilometres (we’re reliably informed), and it’s fair to say that there are no complaints about the amount of game you get for your money. If you thought traversing the world of Crysis got a bit exhausting, then Far Cry 2 is only matched in recent times by Eidos’ Just Cause.
But it’s a better game than that and a very worthy sequel to Far Cry. The overriding objective of the game is to bring down a mysterious character by the name of The Jackal. The Jackal appears to be at the heart of Far Cry 2′s warring factions, and it’s the two sides fighting each other who you’ll be spending your time with.
For Far Cry 2, after a little initial hand-holding, pretty much leaves you to your own devices. You can choose what missions to take on, you can choose what faction to take sides with, and you can go pretty much anywhere on the vast game map.
Obviously if you break ceasefires and go through roadblocks you’ll attract attention, but there’s such a degree of pick and choose about the game (right through to the weapons system, where you can pick up degrading weapons from fallen foes or collect diamonds to buy new ones), that it’s simply hard to resist. It’s a world that it’s fascinating to be a virtual part of.
This does come with a problem, of course, in that the game is so vast in scope that you end up spending far more of it than you’d like simply travelling from place to place on the map. But if you can get over that, then Far Cry 2 is arguably the best value and most ambitious first person shooter in ages.
Its evolving, quite complex plot is offset by plenty of excellent action and tricky artificial intelligence on behalf of the computer-controlled enemy. As it progresses, it also gets really quite difficult, with even the early stages throwing up a challenge that the novice gamer will struggle to relish. But for anyone hunting for a more seasoned FPS, with a challenge to match, Far Cry 2 should be viewed as a must-buy.
There are, inevitably, rough edges to the game, not least the repetition of going through roadblocks and suchlike, and there are minor annoyances that you’ll wish they’d ironed out. But Far Cry 2 is still an excellent if unrelated sequel to one of the best first person shooters of all time, and you end up hoping it does well, simply to see what they’ll do with Far Cry 3.