I really enjoyed Far Cry on the PC. It filled the FPS void before Half-Life 2 blew everything away. When it arrived on the Xbox 360 I was disappointed, but things are looking good with this official sequel. I say sequel, but actually there’s absolutely nothing linking this new title to the original. There’s no Jack Carver, no Trigens, no weird mutagens turning people into weird thingies – just two warring factions somewhere in deepest Africa and an arms dealer called The Jackal who you’ve been hired to kill.
So, you begin the game being driven through the jungle and shanty towns, only to faint on arrival due to having malaria. Unfortunately when you wake up The Jackal’s found you first, threatens you and leaves you for dead. If you died that would make for a short game so you escape the town, play through a lengthy tutorial and are then left to pretty much do what you like in your quest to eliminate The Jackal.
The game map is absolutely huge and you find missions by visiting areas marked on your map with an exclamation mark. Being an FPS these are usually in the form of go somewhere, then kill someone or blow some stuff up. You also get buddies in the game who can help you with different ways to complete missions and give you a kind of extra life if you lose all your health, by dragging you to safety and helping you out if a fire fight gets a bit too tough.
Speaking of fire, it’s an important and impressive part of the game. Using a flamethrower or by blowing up fuel tanks, you can start very realistic fires that take hold of dry grass and wood. This can burn out your enemies or keep them at bay if they’re chasing you. The enemies are pretty intelligent too. They’ll take cover, flank you and even run you down if you’re on foot and they’re in a car. You can also use cars, trucks, jeeps, boats and even hang gliders to get round the game world.
To begin with, it’s difficult to get into the story as there doesn’t really seem to be one. It’s only after a few hours play where the main missions take on some importance and you have to make decisions which affect the game. The saving structure could also be a bit better on the consoles. You save the game at safe houses. The trouble is, if you get engrossed and forget to save, you could die and have to retrace your steps. A checkpoint autosave system similar to Fallout 3 would have been more helpful and kept things more immersive.
Once you’ve finished the story which can take up to 30 hours, there’s always multiplayer to try which, while no Call of Duty, is still fun. There’s the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag modes and of course you can use the fire mechanic to mix things up a bit.
Far Cry 2, whilst not perfect, is certainly a breath of fresh air for a first-person shooter. If you want the open gameplay of Fallout 3 but just want to shoot stuff instead of role-play, then this one’s for you. Far Cry 2 gets and impressive 9 out of 10.
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