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November 21, 2008
Far Cry 2 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
23/10/2008UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Montreal12-16
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Causing some Far Cry 2 mayhem.
Back in 2004, a little-known PC development company astounded the world with a little game called Far Cry. Set on a jaw-droppingly beautiful tropical island, this game tested PC rigs worldwide and had the gaming community on edge. Soon after, the game was released on the original Xbox and then also on the Xbox 360, never hitting Sony platforms. Now, in 2008, we are getting a sequel, under the simple title of Far Cry 2, developed by a different company, and seeing love across all platforms. But in a year of huge AAA titles, is this one worth a look? Read on to find out our verdict.

In the first Far Cry, you played Jack Carver and found yourself stranded on an island, and forced to investigate illegal genetics experiments on the local primate population. FarCry 2 continues this story by, well, completely ignoring it, pretending it doesn't exist, putting its fingers in its' own ears and, much like a young child, chanting incessantly "La La La La La La". Think I'm joking? Far Cry 2 is about as far removed from the first game in the franchise as is possible without changing the game's fundamental gameplay mechanics (i.e. shooting at things).

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Gliding above the destruction below.
In this title we play one of a handful of characters that you are given to select from upon starting a new game. The characters you do not select will also appear as key roles in the game and you will interact with them on a regular basis to advance the plot and quests in an effort to achieve your over-all goal; tracking down and stopping ‘The Jackal'. Who is this? He's an arms dealer responsible for the continuation of a civil war plaguing the un-named state of Africa within which the game takes place.

The opening scenes of the game will see you meeting the Jackal and having him allow you to survive. Oh, you will also find out that your character has contracted malaria, and your efforts to acquire the medication required to survive this disease will also play a vital role in the progression of the game. Overall, there's always the over-arching single plot point you aim for, but there are always smaller quest objectives, such as killing a camp of mercenaries, assassinating a key figure, stealing some documents, etc. that come into play. However, it should be noted that the plot in FarCry is not the most moving or well thought-out script to grace shooters. It's not horrible, but it does the job of moving the player from point A to point B.

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There are jungles, and it looks impressive.
That, of course, brings us to what the game is really about, and that is the gameplay. A sandbox-style open-world FPS, FarCry stands out as a fairly unique title. The game really is about freedom and you are free to take the available quests in whatever order and at whatever pace you choose. Be prepared to spend a lot of time driving from one area of the world to the other, killing people, and driving back, as this is generally the method of advancing a quest.

The freedom of play-style doesn't end there though. The shooting mechanics are designed in such a way that you really are able to pick your style here. If you want to go in with a shotgun or SMG blazing and just plough through all the enemies; it works. If you want to sit back and pick them off from afar with a sniper rifle; it works. If you prefer to utilise the engines amazing fire propagation (more on that in a second) to flush your enemies out and then finish them off with whatever is in your hand at the time; it works. The possibilities are not endless, but there are enough to accommodate the majority of players out there and you'd have to be a pretty picky gamer to fault the shooting mechanics on display here. It's really all about finding the weapon set that best suits you, and while that may sound simple, there are a lot of different weapons to choose from, and you can carry four at any time!

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Using the rocket launcher!
One thing that I must bring attention to, and it has been one of the biggest selling points of the game, is the role that fire plays in Far Cry 2. To date, I have not played a game that did fire propagation. In fact, the majority of games don't even bother with it at all. This is where Far Cry 2 can really claim to be quite special. You throw a Molotov cocktail into a paddock of dry grass, and it will all burn. The fire will spread more or less as per real life. Unfortunately it will die out even if there is still fuel but it's a load of fun nonetheless, and it is amazing to watch. Moreover than that, it also takes a part in gameplay, with exploding barrels and cars often starting fires that will burn not only foliage, but shacks and campsites alike. It adds another dimension to the standard FPS mechanics when you have to be conscious of being burnt alive, or you are trying to force your enemies into a corner under the same threat.

There's a whole list of other smaller touches that warrant mention as well, such as the effort to merge RPG elements in, with travelling to break the action; or the remarkable A.I. that will actually keep you panicking each time you encounter them; or the buddy system where a NPC can come to your rescue if you are on the ground dying; or the fact that weapon quality decays and weapons will jam if old, and even backfire and explode in your face! But perhaps the best one is the healing mechanic in place.

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Targeting enemies in the jeep.
As has become the standard in shooters, Far Cry 2 has a regenerating health bar. It plays similarly to the one in Resistance: Fall of Man, broken up into segments and each segment will regenerate if it has health in it, but no higher. In order to restore these other segments you must use the injections that can be found in first-aid boxes around the world. If you are down to two segments or less, your character will ‘bleed-out' and die unless you hit the heal button. Doing so will treat you to a reasonably graphic animation (all in first-person – like every other part of the game) of your character ripping a bullet out of his body with pliers, snapping a bone back into place, etc. They are extremely well done and never really get boring. They do, however, take time, so you will need to find some cover during a fight to pull them off.

Finally, there is the multiplayer portion of the game. Given a lot of press, Far Cry 2 multiplayer promised quite a lot and while it plays well and there is a lot there to mess around with, including a very powerful but easy-to-use level creator/editor, yes even on the console releases, we found it very difficult to get a game with other Australian's which just resulted in some laggy gameplay. Perhaps Far Cry 2 multiplayer will be amazing in a few months when more people have picked up the game, but for now, in Australia, it's not much to look at really.

Unfortunately, Far Cry 2 is not without its flaws. The open-world approach to an FPS means that the action can sometimes be a bit slow and drawn out, and like all other open-world games, the quests get repetitive. While the shooting mechanics are as solid as the best games out there, this is probably not the game to satisfy your rabid-foaming twitch-finger gamers' shooter-fix. Many people will probably never finish the main quest, and there has already been a bit of a split down the community on the amount of travelling needed to be done in the game.

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Watch out for the enemy in the shack!
Outside of gameplay issues, there are the usual glitches that can be associated with open-world gaming. Sometimes enemies will just die for no reason, or not notice you shooting them. And on top of this, there is occasionally some framerate issues on the PS3 version of the title. None of these issues are big players and do very little to hurt the game, but they do warrant a mention.

As you can no doubt see from the surrounding screenshots, Far Cry 2 is beautiful. To date, I don't think a shooter has looked this good on console and while it looks good in screenshots, it's when you are in the game, seeing the wind affect foliage, watching fire spread, admiring the almost photo-real face of your recently defeated foe, that the game really shines as a stand out graphical piece. Everything, from weather and fire effects, to gun and character animations, to wildlife models, to the sunlight is done at absolute top-level quality. Far Cry 2 may not have been developed by Crytek, but given their pedigree, and the overall eye-candy factor of the game, you would certainly be forgiven for thinking so.

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Graphically, Far Cry 2 looks awesome.
Of course, no game can pull off immersion without being well rounding in both looks and sounds, and here is another area in which Ubisoft do not disappoint. Weapon effects all sound wonderful and guns sound like they have a bang to them just like they should. Shotguns make the appropriate roaring pop while machine guns have that movie-quality rat-a-tat-tat and so on. Likewise, the original musical score fits in perfectly and keeps you in the game-world. Perhaps the only aural fault here is the voice-acting, which can be a bit inconsistent, ranging from well done to quite out-of-place.

It's a shame that so many good games have come out in so little time, and I fear that Far Cry 2 could be one of the ones that gets forgotten amidst titles such as Fallout 3, LittleBigPlanet, Gears of War 2, and so on. If you have the money free or are even slightly curious, do yourself a favour and give this game a go. It's something different, it's something new. You won't get anything else that is exactly like it, but whether that is a good or bad thing will ultimately vary from person-to-person. Just remember to keep those malaria pills and a fire-blanket nearby!

Review By: Michael Hutchesson

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GRAPHICSUntouched on console. Amazing visuals with only the slightly of issues during intense action.
SOUNDAppropriately selected effects and a great score make up for some haphazard voices.
GAMEPLAYThere's a lot of different facet to the mechanics here, and all are either love/hate things. Some rock, others don't. Play it and decide yourself – that's all I can say really.
VALUEYou can run through it in about 25 hours, or you can enjoy it in about 40-50. Either way, it's a solid amount of gameplay, if you don't mind some repetition.
OVERALLFarCry 2 blew me away more than this score indicates, but some gamers will undoubtedly feel as if it were half-finished whilst others will worship it. It's different, and that's a good thing!

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