The Game Blender: Far Cry 2

In any given week I’ll play at least five different videogames. Most are promptly deleted without a second thought; others, however, survive the weekly digital immolation for quite some time. Regardless, playing a specific game to completion is somewhat of a personal rarity, and provided that I only review games I have finished, I don’t write about my direct experiences as much as I’d like. Every so often, I’ll choose one game to play for several hours and share what I took away from that time; it might be a new title or one which has been collecting dust on my shelf.

Far Cry 2

This is a game specifically of highs and lows, of successes and failures. I wasn’t a particular fan of the first Far Cry (let’s be honest: it was overrated), but like a dutiful gamer I plunged headlong into the gorgeously-animated-yet-horribly-shallow-gameplay-wise pseudo drama of mutants and island geography. Sure, it was neat to hang glide across half the island, but after the 84,675th “random” encounter with generic baddies, the game sort of lost its edge. Its successor has many of the same problems.

At first, Far Cry 2 is a great deal of fun. It has fantastic graphics and effects, a halfway-decent story, and loads of guns. After the first several missions, however, it becomes evident how monotonous the gameplay is and the fun factor subsides greatly. After ten-to-fifteen hours playing, I realized nearly half of that time had been spent driving or boating from mission provider to mission location, fighting through an infinite number of redundant checkpoints to do so.

Gameplay progresses thus: First, receive a mission from any number of very-friendly and -polite inhabitants of this African backwater nation. Next, open up the map and observe in which direction the mission lies; after a vehicle is obtained, it’s time to put foot to pedal and get there as quickly as possible. Sadly, every mile or so there’s a checkpoint manned by several enemies. Supposing I wanted to speed through as opposed to exiting my vehicle and fighting, the checkpointeers will load up in their Jeep and chase me down. Repeat ad infinitum until the mission location draws close, exit the vehicle and plan an approach (sniper rifles come in very handy here), shoot everyone, and grab whatever or whoever the objective dictates. What’s that? Oh right, now that the mission is complete, I have to drive to another location to receive another mission, all while shooting through checkpoint after checkpoint.

Not fun at all.

Luckily, other things in Far Cry 2 make it a pleasurable experience, first and foremost being its intense catering to the pyromaniacs among us. This being Africa and all, dry grass is in abundance. Add fields and fields of dry flora to a Molotov cocktail and the result is a splendid inferno which consumes trees, animals, and around an acre or so of grass. Remote-detonated explosives are also an enjoyable facet of the game; sneak into a checkpoint or area populated by the enemy, plant an IED, retreat to a safe distance and trigger the bomb for a terrific treat.

Emergent gameplay doesn’t make an average game any better though. Apart from sniping, random arson, and the occasional jaw-dropping backdrop, Far Cry 2 is a pedestrian game which focuses far too much on getting from one place to another and not what happens once you get there. Of course, I only played for a handful of hours –perhaps after thirty or even fifty the action eludes its redundancy and becomes fascinating. Too bad I won’t be around that long.

Click here for a nifty demonstration of these oft-annoying road checkpoints.