Review: Far Cry 2 (360)

The sequel to the immensely popular Far Cry proves itself as a stellar experience that busts the first person shooter genre wide open with amazing depth, freedom and unprecedented immersion. THE BOTTOM LINE: This is a game for shooter fans that have been waiting for the genre to be dialed up to the next level. Its detailed presentation, feature-rich gameplay, and palpable sense of placing players in another world yield a bar-raising effort.

Pretty and pretty dangerous

The jam-packed holiday season gets its first AAA shooter in Far Cry 2, a title that's more spiritual successor than direct sequel to its tropical island-set predecessor. The lush jungles and blue waters have been replaced with dusty roads and wide-open plains, and the lame, Xbox-only feral abilities -- the ones that had us running around like rabid kitty cats -- have thankfully been dropped. This time out, we're treated to an experience that can't possibly be pigeon-holed into a single genre; a masterful mix of shooting, open-world exploration, and some light stealth and RPG elements, culminate in the most engaging "FPS" I've played since donning Gordon Freeman's horn-rimmed specs.

The first thing that'll find you collecting your jaw from the floor is Far Cry 2's living, breathing African setting. A surface glance reveals a realistically sprawling world, darted with foliage, rocky outcroppings, and serene waterways, all complemented by some of the best shadow and lighting tech to grace this console generation. But dig deeper and you'll discover it's the more subtle stuff that steals the show; the wind picking up before a storm, dust being kicked up by your tires, the crackle of a blazing fire, and the satisfying crunch of foliage under your feet, all contribute to a level of immersion that'd make Niko Bellic envious.

Kill, heal, rescue, and kill some more

Despite practically being able to feel the sunshine on your back and hear the wind whip past your ears, you'll want to remember you're not on vacation. Far Cry 2 hits the ground running, setting you after a mysterious arms dealer, dropping you between two warring factions, granting you access to a brimming arsenal of guns, grenades and other baddie-blasting goodies, and giving you malaria (gee, thanks Far Cry 2!) So, before you begin applying the sun block and booking that spa appointment, you'll want to take a look over your shoulder. In fact, watching your back-and keeping it free of pesky projectiles-provides the perfect example of the level of immersion you'll consistently experience in Far Cry 2's rich world. Gone are the friendly auto-replenishing health bars we've all been spoiled by-Far Cry 2 kicks it old school with collectable health packs, but ups the ante even further with some interesting ass-saving twists. In addition to jabbing yourself with syringes when the health bar dances dangerously close to death, you'll also need to pop pills to fend off the malaria, and incorporate a pair of needle nose pliers to pluck shrapnel from your various bullet-riddled body parts. Failing all that, you also have buddies in the field that'll occasionally drag you out of harm's way.

This drenched-in-details approach to keeping yourself alive extends to every part of Far Cry 2's design. There's so much to do, and so many ways to do it, you'll likely still be discovering "oh sh*t" moments well into it's 30+ hour campaign. Summing up this endlessly engaging experience is best served by describing one of the game's many breathless missions: Pulling up to a shantytown, where I was to destroy a military supply cache, I was ambushed by one of the pissed-off factions. Believing they were just a minor threat (silly me), I hopped in the back of my jeep and unleashed hell via the vehicle's mounted turret. Underestimating their numbers, I was quickly knocked to the ground just before being dragged to safety by a gun-toting pal I'd met earlier. The next several couldn't-catch-my-breath minutes unfolded a bit like this-pluck bullet from palm of hand with pliers, send truck and its three passengers to a fiery death courtesy of rocket-propelled grenade (that I'd just purchased and upgraded over the Internet), dig bullet from ankle with dagger, plunge machete into jugular of guy who snuck up behind me, rescue ally (the one who'd just saved by backside minutes earlier) by driving syringe into her chest Pulp Fiction-style, shoot more bad guys, un-jam gun, pop a few happy pills to stave off malaria-induced blurred vision, set grassy patch ablaze with Molotov cocktails, and watch remaining bad guys go up like a roman candle.

Sure, Far Cry 2 is a bit hardcore, and it's blend of breakneck shooting sequences and more meandering exploration might not be for everyone. However, if you're craving a shooter with a bit more bite than the increasingly casual competition, and one with more substance than the familiar run-and-gun fare, then you'll be hard pressed to beat this content-rich offering. And, if the malaria and bullets don't get you, there's even more to explore in the online multiplayer modes and map editing options.

PROS: A massive open-world, rich with opportunities and experiences that make the average shooter look, well, average.
CONS: Features, depth, and freedom might be a bit overwhelming for those accustomed to more standard shooters.

Comments [10]

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Jimbodawg

I'm glad to see that GamePro approves of this game as well as many of the other great reviews I've been seeing lately.

One thing I wish to see is a multiplayer and map editor review. Oh, wait, the reviewers you had doing that died from the sheer amount of awesomeness exploding into their minds, right?

=)

MikeTheGreat

I'm actually not that surprised that this got good reviews. I knew it would, but I'm just happy that this game will eat up a lot of my time instead of just a few hours.

VivaLeResistance

looks like a great game, I might pick it up when the price is right...I've already pre-ordered too many as it is

ClassZeroCommando

It's THAT good AND more, stay tuned for MY review lol, this game was destined to be this great, hell for me it's even better than MGS4 ( gameplay wise, story wise not sure yet)

LINC78

This games rocks. Bought it hoping it would be good and it has not let me down! GO get this game. Got the 360 version, looks amazing.

kratos91

i wanna get a shooter for ps3 and trying to decide. socom comes with a headset, but is online only, far cry might not fit my "type", and fall out 3 can be treated like a shooter but i have to look into it. and i'm still deciding if i want LBP

UltimateAlien

*sigh*

Guess I have to pick this up now as well.

Think I need to get a second job so I can afford all the great games coming out.

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