Ubisoft has released its second title in the Far Cry series and they seemed to have advanced in every aspect of the game. The main campaign mode of the game takes place in an African atmosphere where 2 rival factions have exploded into war against each other. You primary mission is to find The Jackal, whom has supplied the opposing factions with weapons and ammunition. Where there is a civil war of some sort, you will find the Jackal as he seems to be the main arms supplier in the region. You must search and kill The Jackal to end this endless supply of weapons and hopefully put the region back into a state of peace.
So thats the storyline, but lets just talk about the game in a graphical aspect for a bit. Graphically, the game is outstanding and stands above many of its FPS competitors. The lighting effects are well done, and the general African region environment really makes you feel like you are driving through a third world country in unrest. Textures are extremely detailed, even down to the smallest leaf of a tree. And the explosions and fire effects are top notch as well. We'll get into the fire side of things in a bit.
The environment is fully destructible meaning you'll leave your mark anywhere you go and fire a weapon, whether its just your standard hand held weaponry or a mounted gun on a jeep. Attention to detail was evident in the fact that you could literally prune a tree with your machines gun and watch the branches fall individually as they broke from the main tree due to the bullet penetration. I literally chuckled when I was unloading on an enemy camp and took notice to this landscaper's dream. Well done Ubisoft.
But one of the most outstanding things graphically and which also plays into the game strategies is the use of fire and the terrain. Fire will burn out of control and literally engulf a whole area of dry grasses leaving a burnt path of destruction in its wake. It looks amazing and in all honestly captures the destruction and power of a burning wild brush fire completely. To say the least I was impressed with the use of fire and the terrain. It plays into game strategies as well which we will discuss a bit later.
The sounds in the game are right on par with what you would expect. Everything is right where it should be when it comes to sound which includes gunfire, ambient environmental sounds, and definitely the crackling rage of a burning brush fire. The voice acting is just fine and comes across well in the game which definitely keeps the storyline intact and interesting. Nothing like a game where the voice acting is so bad that it detracts from the storyline and you find yourself skipping over most fo the scenes in order to avoid the dialog. Thankfully that is not the case in this game most of the time.
Controls are fairly simple and most FPS fans will be happy with the way it feels and plays. For my own tastes I foudn the intital controla a bit to senstive and would constantly aim past or over my targets while moving the reticule. This is simply corrected in the game options menu by adjusting the sensitivity degree. Driving is simple as it only requires left and right stick movements as well as right and left trigger combinations for the gas and brake. So very simple controls, yet right where they need to be for the game and keeping it fun for everyone.
Alright, let's discuss the campaign mode a bit. There are 6 characters for you to choose from each having its own classification whether it pertains to special ops or an explosives guy. Your choice doesn't really affect the campaign in terms of gameplay. These characters are more suited to just be used to fit your own style of play. There are plenty of missions and side missions to complete throughout the campaign. But I have to say that with the vast landscape and world you are playing in that it seems there should be even more to do. I got the sense that something was missing from time to time during my long drives across the country side to get to the next missions destination. Of course you can always just explore to find the hidden diamonds across the land, which you will receive an achievement for in the end, but still there was just something missing or so it seemed. Don't get me wrong, there is a ton of stuff to do and it will keep you busy for quite sometime. Whether its a main story quest or side mission given to you by one of your in game buddies, you'll always have something to do somewhere. All of these missions add up to payment in diamonds which can be used to buy new weapons and upgrades for existing weapons.
There are also plenty of vehicles to be driven which can take damage in your gunfights, but you'll find yourself fixing them quite a bit too. Sometimes its almost better to park your vehicle before entering an enemy camp or installation and walk in. Now of course, some facilities will require you to scout out the area which will have you walking into prime locations above a camp or guard post. When scouting an area, you'll be able to spot ammunition, enemies, and health packs that will then be displayed on your map making it easier to create an attack strategy. Of course you can always run into a camp without scouting it and guns blazing which I am sure some folks may just do rather than taking the scout time. That'll work too, most of the time.
The AI is a little on the dumb side at times. I found myself shooting them in the back many times when they would walk around a building that I had been located at and then just standing there looking for me while I walked around the building and came up behind them. Also several times they just kinda stood out in the open in a guard stance as if I hadn't even shot them and by the time they realized they had been shot 2 or 3 times, I was putting the final bullet in them for the kill. Now granted while playing the game I was not playing at the hardest difficulty and the AI is probably a little smarter at the harder level, but I still don't think the AI is going to be the msartest cookies in the world and react how they should in certain situations. At least not from my interactions with them.
Another thing that can get a little annoying is the fact that you have contracted malaria and this is made known to you early in the game. So you'll have to constantly obtain medication to keep your strength and health. You can always go to one of your safe houses which are places where you have cleared out an enemy and can now sleep and regain strength. I just found it annoying after getting into the story a bit. Now I haven't quite finished story mode yet, so there may be more to this than I know and it could evolve into part of the storyline. Time will tell.
So campaign mode is definitely a good aspect fo the game but could use a little more work to keep it moving along. I realize that this is an open world type of game that allows you to do anything you want at anytime, but if thats the case then I really think some more mini games or side missions need to be scattered throughout the mode.
Now of course, any FPS that comes to the 360 world has to have some sort of online features and gameplay or it just will not be accepted by the gaming community. Far Cry definitely delivers an online experience that should be played by all FPS fans. I mean how can you not want to create your own maps and take them online for the gaming world to enjoy, or not enjoy for that matter. I have seen some community maps online that put developer created maps in this game and other games to shame. It's amazing the creativeness of folks in the online community and how they apply that to these maps.
While there are only 4 actual gameplay modes, the unique maps that these can be played on deifnitely enhance the multiplayer aspects of this game. You'll have your typical Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch as well as a Capture the Flag mode known as Capture the Diamond and finally a mode know as Uprising. This game mode seems to be somewhat a mixture of popular game modes from other games. Each team's objective is to control points on a map which can only be captured by the Captain of the team. The Captain must control the area for 20 seconds before the point is captured and the ultimate goal is to kill the other team's Captain. If you kill the Captain then they can't capture any objective points. Simple enough.
All of the game modes are fun and will always give plenty of playtime to fans of the game. Nothing like running around the map with a flamethrower in hand lighting up anything and everything you can including enemies. Oh and by the way, if you are a sniper you may want to rethink your strategy of laying in high grasses since those grasses are fully ignitable and you aren't fireproof. Definitely use the fire to your advantage when playing online with folks. You gotta love the smell of fried enemies in the morning!
One other thing to mention about the online multiplayer is that it uses a class system as I mentioned earlier when discussing the single player. The class system online comes into play a little more so than it does offline and you'll earn diamonds as you play online that will help you upgrade your weapon packs and evolve your combat strategies and techniques with those upgrades.
Overall Far Cry 2 is a solid FPS experience despite the few shortcomings it has. Online play definitely puts this game on the map with other successful first person shooters and it should npt be overlooked by any fan of the genre. As I stated, the ability to use custom maps online is a bonus to the already solid gameplay and should give you many hours of fun and excitement. Be sure to always check out the map community for the latest and greatest maps and don't be afraid to dabble in the creation of a few of your own as well. Once you get the basics down for the map editor you can really create some superb arenas for the entire world to enjoy. I would gladly recommend this game to anyone that loves shooters.
Suggestions: As mentioned I would have liked to have seen some min games or more side missions scattered throughout the maps. Even if they really had nothing to do with the storyline and just an extra way to earn diamonds for upgrades. Other than that, I really like the game and see myself playing this for a long while.