Far Cry 2 is a beautiful game, it really does look stunning. It kicks off with a jeep ride from the airport that sets the scene in a similar way to the Half Life tram journey. Lengthy game introductions can be irritating when you’re chafing at the bit to get stuck in, but this one works rather well.
Gameplay-wise, it’s mostly a pretty standard FPS; there’s a nice range of weapons, particularly with the ability to buy and upgrade items, and mix n’ match between your three slots (you can carry a machine pistol, assault rifle and flamethrower, or a grenade launcher, sniper rifle and RPG launcher, or a variety of other hardware). Enemy AI is a peculiar mix; conversationally, it’s very atmospheric. Soldiers chat away to each other appropriately, one particular bit of dialogue that stuck out was after taking out a guard, I was hiding near his body when it was spotted by another guard, who called out to a friend:
“Shit! He killed the new guy.”
“TJ. His name was TJ.”
“Doesn’t matter now, he’s dead.”
Their combat skills, though, aren’t as sharp as their conversation, which is often a good then when there are five or ten of them all after you.
The non-standard FPS side of things is that it doesn’t have a linear plot, it’s aiming more at creating a “world”. I’m not sure it’s entirely succeeded here; things are promising initially, there are two main factions both offering you missions, side-missions from the arms dealer to upgrade your weapons, NPC “buddies”, a fairly large area to roam with hidden diamonds to collect, checkpoints to scout, safe houses to secure. A few hours in, though, it’s a bit same-y. The only people you ever meet are mercenaries and soldiers, who shoot on sight regardless of what you’re doing. No matter how many times you clear a checkpoint, the people manning it have respawned next time you pass through. It’s a pretty static and one-dimensional world, and it makes getting from your briefing to your objective pretty tedious; in something like GTA, at least you could stick the radio on and just cruise around if you wanted to, the vehicles in Far Cry 2 are distinctly lacking in in-car entertainment (though some do have handy machine guns). One of the factions wanted me to take out the Police Chief, which I wasn’t too keen on (didn’t want to destabilise things any more, rather than a sudden attack of conscience), but after doing a mission for the other faction instead, it seemed to be all that was on offer, so perhaps you don’t really have as much choice as it seemed. It’s not bad by any means, I’m still enjoying switching between it and WAR to break things up, but it’s just not quite fulfilling the early potential. I’m only 20% through in Act 1 (whether that’s 20% of Act 1, or 20% of the whole game I’m not sure), hopefully things might pick up a bit in subsequent acts.