Ubisoft is at it again, filling the gaps between your Rainbow Sixes and Ghost Recons and Splinter Cells with the long-awaited sequel to critically-acclaimed shooter Far Cry. Set in Africa, you are in the middle of a war torn 50-square-kilometer chunk of varied landscapes ruled by diamond-thirsty warlords and bickering factions.
There are quite a few characters to choose from in the beginning of your quest, and selecting whichever you please does not necessarily impact the direction of the story; this just changes the people who become your friends throughout the game (if only slightly at that).
Let’s just get the graphics out of the way first, as much talk of this game before its release was because of the new proprietary game engine crafted by the folks at Ubisoft Montreal, named ‘Dunia’.
The Dunia engine specializes in 3 things:
- The dangerous element we know as fire, and how it spreads and is affected by wind
- Physics-affected vegetation
- Weapons that degrade over time, eventually leading to jams or weapon breakage
Those three bullets are shown to be the obvious focus of the developers’ work from nearly the first minute of the game. Grenades and explosions will cause trees and bushes to bend and sway, fire will spread if it has suitable fuel to sustain it; trees, grass, propane tanks and the like will do. Weapons that are picked up from fallen enemies are typically in very poor condition, leading to weapons jamming at *just* the right time (during an intense firefight involving you and 5 baddies). You can avoid this by using the game’s weapons purchasing system, done via gun shops. You get great quality weapons from these places, but be aware they do indeed degrade over time, as you see dust, dirt, and rust overcome your weapon of choice.
Water was seemingly sacrificed in terms of overall quality , as the particle effects are very substandard, and there is no animation in it at all…only a moving texture adorn’s the water’s surface, along with basic world reflections.
The lighting produced by the Dunia engine is….inconsistent. Yes, it is real-time because the day does eventually grow into night and vice versa as you play, but there are a few minor gripes here. On several occasions, while walking around indoors, there have been instances where there SHOULD be shadows underneath chairs, tables, and such…because there’s huge friggin’ fluorescent lighting directly above them! Yet when you go outside….there is a damned shadow for every little leaf and branch on every bush and tree! Hello!! Inconsistent much?
I will give credit where credit is due however, as Dunia does crank out some good HDR lighting (including some beautiful God Rays!) and some decent weather effects ranging from fog, to rain, to moonlight and windy conditions.
Ragdoll physics and varied death animations are present in a pleasing form, with some authentic-sounding weapons pumping lead slugs being the driving force. Liquidy-looking blood sprays out of enemies as you shoot them (it’s a bit overdone, but it works), and there is a *slightly* different splattering sound that you’ll hear when you score a headshot.
Textures are above average, not really a complaint here to be honest. I am pleased with how everything and everyone looks. Objects and people look grounded in their environments, and the textures do a good job of varying the environment enough to the point of immersing one quite well in the ever-shifting desert landscape of Africa.
If I rated the graphics alone, I’d give it a B+, chopping off a letter grade because of the lack of dynamic shadows cast by headlights at night, and the sub-par water along with the indoor / outdoor shadowing inconsistencies.
Sound in FarCry 2 is greatly varied in nearly every single area (weapons, environment, vehicles, animals) albeit one: people. I cannot tell you how many friggin’ times I have heard the SAME death-cry from a dying baddie. You’ll know it when you hear it…get used to it, as just about 1 in 2 deaths results in you hearing the same lovely “arrrrggggghhhhhhhh!”.
Weapons sound very punchy and authentic(especially shotguns and sniper rifles…wow), and the vehicles sound very…”rough and offroady” with plenty of dirt-grinding, rock-crunching and engine-roaring cacaphonies to grace your ears. You can indeed tell if you’re driving over dirt, grass, or sand. The difference is audible. Which is good. Ubisoft has always had good sound in their games anyways, so I don’t know what I’m preaching about…you know this.
One last mention…all the characters have varied accents and good acting, so nothing boring as far as the story-relevant voices go.
The mechanics of this title are fairly easy to grasp. There’s a 5-bar health system replete with healing syringes and yummy delicious super-healing water bottles (gotta love that God water), and the incredibly satisfying digging-out of shrapnel and slugs from oneself, and the shockingly offputting readjustment of dislocated limbs. Combat does some pretty F-‘ed up things to you in FarCry 2, so be prepared for a little blood and gore to go along with your diamond-collecting and baddie-shooting.
Weapons degrade over time, so they WILL jam and / or break on you eventually. Trust me. You cannot avoid it. It will happen. And when it happens you will be pissed (but in a fun way…if that makes any sense) because you will be in the middle of the world’s largest shootout in the center of a thick forest, not knowing left from right and attempting to save your own pathetic existence, all the while digging shrapnel out of your left leg and applying health syringes to your oft-pricked and scarred left wrist.
Whew! That was a mouthful!
Yes, combat can be quite hectic, what with grass fires enveloping you and 10 guys with Spas 12 shotguns encircling you with superior flanking moves and better-than-average AI. Of the three weapons you can carry, you’ll mostly be sticking to your frags and molotovs and the one that’s equipped to your d-pad left, which is your main rifle / shotgun slot. D-pad down and d-pad right are your explosive (RPGs and Grenade Launchers…yummy) and pistol slots, respectively. D-Pad up is your machete slot, and it is extremely effective in close quarters. One or two chops is enough to bring most guys down, although some remain dying on the ground. Attack them with the machete whilst they are down, and your character will proceed to lunge forward and stab them in the gut, ending the poor person’s sad little life.
Vehicles handle well, and you can initiate a simple repair animation when your car is shot to hell. Don’t get too attached to one automobile though, as you’ll go through LOTS of them. And I mean LOTS.
You can sprint and jump, yes, but for a limited time only or you’ll get clouded vision and light headed, gasping for breath. Africa is hot, you know. You’d be wise to remember that.
There is another element to FarCry 2’s gameplay, and it involves your character’s health, but I shall let you oh loved reader figure that out and experience it for yourself. It is game-changing and it comes at the worst times as well. Fun!
As you play through the story, I think you’ll discover that you become slightly more distanced from it, and less caring as you were in the beginning. For some reason, it just didn’t grab me a whole lot. Unfortunately, most open world games suffer from this “disease”, and besides using scripting (which goes against the point of having an open world) there isn’t much one can do to control the player’s attachment to the narrative, besides telling you to “go from here to there” and “do this for this particular reason”.
That’s ok though, as there is plenty of action to go around in FarCry 2 (it comes looking for you if you aren’t that outgoing), and there are lots of fun ways of going about it. In some ways….think of the appeal of FarCry 2 as being similar to the appeal of Crysis. Very similar games, I’d say. Now go machete some indigenous wildlife!
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Weapons, look and sound like their real life counterparts.
Some of the best fire effects seen in a game.