by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on PS3
Play it your way
The sun begins to set to the west, barely peeping over a mountain range looming in the distance. A small wind bustles the grass and leaves in the trees. Below a small hill, several soldiers armed to the teeth with shotguns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and grenades stand guard, waiting for someone to pass by. Lying low, you raise your sniper rifle and, just like that, three of the guards are down. You quickly move to take out the fourth, but when you pull the trigger, the gun jams! He’s spotted you now, retreating back before pulling out a flare gun to signal for help. Before you know it, several armed Jeeps come down the roads, and you’re running through the thick African jungle to escape your pursuers.
Far Cry 2, developed by Ubisoft Montreal (who also made several Splinter Cell games and Assassins Creed) and published by Ubisoft, prides itself on the unique encounters experienced throughout the game. It even proclaims it on the back of the box, decreeing that you should “Play it Your Way”. What’s really amazing is that it’s actually fairly spot on.
How it all starts
The game takes place in 50 square kilometers of African real estate, during a war between two rival factions, the APR (African Peoples Republic) and UFLL (United Front for Liberation and Labour). You take the role of a mercenary hired to kill ‘The Jackal’, an arms dealer who armed both sides. At the beginning of the game, you choose your character from a selection of several, and then you’re off. After a ride in the back of a jeep to your hotel, you become infected by malaria. You’re incapacitated in your hotel room, where full out war breaks out in the streets. The Jackal himself shows up to confront you, before leaving. Getting out of bed, you attempt to escape the town.
The magic of Dunia
The first thing you probably notice early on in is how great everything looks. Running on a new engine called Dunia, or Earth, the game is easily one of the better looking games to be released in this generation of consoles. The Dunia engine allows for a variety of things, such as a night and day cycle set as one minute real time equal to five minutes game time, storm effects, and fire propagation. The lighting is fantastic, with light peeping through gaps in the foliage. Watching the sun go down over a far off mountain is one of the few times in a video game I stopped and was caught by the beauty of it all.
Fire plays an important part in the game, and is one of the best weapons. Since it rarely rains, the grassland and trees are easily lit ablaze, which is great for confusing enemies, or putting something in between you and them. The fire propagation is probably the best I’ve ever seen in the game, with the fire moving over grass and trees depending on the wind. Fires can be started either by explosives like shooting a propane tank, RPGs, or Molotov cocktails, as well as everyone’s favorite, a flamethrower.
Lots of ground to cover
Being stuck in 50 square kilometers of Africa is all well and good, but the experience will become stale and boring if things stay stagnant. Luckily, there are a few environments to explore, from a junk yard, jungles, deserts, and several small towns. The game area is very large, and the only way to get across the map quickly is by going to one of five bus stations, which only takes you to another station in another corner of the map. A feature similar to fast travel from Oblivion or Fallout 3 would have been greatly appreciated to quickly move around the map.
No Pros and Cons at this time