Why commit to one side of a civil war when you can get rich serving both? As a mercenary in Africa, you’ll roam almost 20 square miles of gorgeous jungle and sun-baked savannah as you take on assassination, sabotage, and plentiful (but repetitive) side missions, but the alternatives your buddies suggest give the campaign its life. Do you make a beeline for stolen gold, or whack the deposed king first?
It’s tempting to take the path of least resistance when you must repeatedly drive serpentine routes and battle irritating “patrols” that give stubborn chase every 30 seconds. But Far Cry 2’s combat reaches a fever pitch with remarkable frequency, and you have myriad ways to accomplish most goals. Torch an encampment at noon, sneak in by starlight, or just blow everyone into red paste with a large assortment of upgradable artillery. Foes won’t enter certain areas, but they’re intelligent enough to make your prolonged rampages tense and satisfying. Each unpredictable bullet-storm is filled with gritty flourishes of brutal realism. Malaria fl are-ups play havoc with your vision, weapons jam, and shrapnel punches holes in your flesh, so your alter ego comes off as both grizzled **** and vulnerable soft target.
Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult to care about his contrived destiny when seemingly important choices don’t yield meaningful consequences and the cast chews through dialogue like they’re on crystal meth.
The biggest disappointment is that the six character classes, experience-based upgrades, and full-featured level editor can’t elevate online play past the weary familiarity of deathmatch, CTF, and control-point variations. But even if Far Cry 2’s flaws leave it a stone’s throw from greatness, it still offers some of the most pulse-pounding unscripted moments seen in a first-person shooter.
+ Exciting and flexible combat.
+ Enormous and detailed world.
- Lots of commuting; obnoxious truck patrols; underwhelming online.
? Who installed GPS units in all those ancient Ford Pintos?