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Friday, January 30, 2009

First Impressions: Far Cry 2

I fired up Far Cry 2 last night for the first time. I was ready to sit back and watch an opening cinematic. Instead, I was thrown right into the game.

The inital loading screen told me that I was a mercenary on the hunt for The Jackal, a ruthless arms dealer happily fueling the war between the APR and UFLL factions. My job was to find and kill The Jackal. Once the game was loaded, I found myself riding in a cab, the driver's constant chatter providing a little background to the landscape unfolding all around me. Trees, water, animals, and armed militia and mercenaries were everywhere. Although we got stopped a couple of times, once to allow the passing of a military convoy and once to answer the questions of a rather nasty looking bunch of armed men, we arrived at a hotel fairly quickly.

And then things got crazy. Without ruining the intro for anyone wishing to play the game, everything simply went to Hell. I lasted all of one minute before dying and receiving the "On The Run" achievement for escaping the town. I guess I did escape in the sense that I got shot repeatedly, fell unconscious, and got carried away before any further harm came to me.

When I woke up, there was a Central American-type (Brazilian, Argentinian, Mexican?) figure available to provide some aid. He showed me how to pry a bullet out of my leg. He then gave me some medicine and some guns. And then he told me that I owed him and had to do some work. Touché my clever...Spaniard...?

My first mission was to liberate a nearby shack. The shack was being guarded by two armed guys. I shot the first guy in the head and I shot the second guy in the arm, leg, chest, face, neck, and groin - he was a tough bugger. With the shack liberated, I was told to go inside and rest up for a few hours. In I went, I set my alarm clock, and slept for a few hours.

After saving my game, I was back on the road and on my way to scout out a nearby lumber mill populated by some APR guys. After checking out the lumber mill, I was told that I had to save some guy holed up in one of the APR's camp buildings. And here's where Far Cry 2 got real hard real fast.

I walked around the perimeter of the camp, got a target in my sights, and fired. My target was down and I was congratulating myself. A quick glance around told me that no one had been alerted to the sound of my gunshots or the fact that one guard had suddenly exploded into a wet pile of skin and blood. I got up to find another target and was promptly killed by a shotgun-weilding mercenary who'd flanked my position. Hmmm. I'd been fooled and, more importantly, killed by the AI.

I was forced to reload my earlier saved game back at my liberated shack. The load time was pretty long and I was a little pissed at having to start a good 10 minutes back. My second attempt went a little better. I set my alarm for midnight and then approached the camp in the dead of night. The mercenaries were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed but I was ready for them this time.

I crept around the camp's perimeter and took out one guard. Rather than stay planted, I quickly continued moving around the camp's periphery. Suddenly, the foliage where I'd been just a minute before erupted into flame as the camp's mercenaries began chucking grenades into the dark foliage. Man - these guys meant business!

Over the next 15 minutes, I was able to take out the remaining five or six enemies without dying. It was much tougher than I thought it'd be! When the mercenaries realized that I was creeping around the perimeter of the camp, they started to flank me again as they began to anticipate where I was headed. I'll have to see if all enemies in the game are this smart or if I just got a little unlucky on my first attempt at gunplay.

In any case, I liberated a fellow mercenary from the bricked building in the camp. He said thanks and became a "buddy". I was then awarded another 10GamerPoint and the "Making Friends" achievement. Nice!

I spent another 30 minutes with the game, exploring the countryside and visiting Mike's Bar. I find the driving to be a little difficult. The roads are so bumpy and narrow that it makes it very difficult to get from point A to point B without crashing or getting motion sickness.

I enjoyed my initial time with Far Cry 2. The graphics are pretty good, the game's score is solid, and the sound effects are spot-on. The voice acting is mediocre but not horrible. I've only just started the game so it's very hard to make any solid judgements for or against Far Cry 2. I'm planning on playing it further over the weekend. I think the next ten hours of gamplay will go a long way to determining how much effort I'd like to put into the game. For now, the game's map is huge, I'm scared of getting into gunfights, and I'm still getting used to the controls. But in time, this could be a game that I grow to love.

Have a great weekend!