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on: September 23, 2009, 12:50:06 PM

Review: Far Cry 2

(sent in by Azazel)

This review would have been more relevant a year ago theatre Presents:
Far Cry 2.

OK, where do I start?

We'll start with characters and story, I guess. Please meet Far Cry 2, no relation really to Far Cry 1 except in name and the most general sense. It doesn't follow up on the first one, it's by a different developer, the characters are all different, and... well, yeah. For the record, I loved Far Cry 1, despite it's veering off into Island of Dr Moreau territory later in the game. I liked the open gameplay, the lush green setting, and being able to snipe people in the head from a kilometer away on the top of a mountain.

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AcidCat
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Reply #1 on: September 23, 2009, 04:01:10 PM

I think that's a fair review. The game certainly has some strange design decisions, but I think if you approach the game you are given instead of the imaginary game you think it should be, Far Cry 2's shortcomings are relatively minor. It still amazes me, the amount of internet rage the quick-respawning checkpoint dudes generated. Because if this issue had not been brought up ad nauseum in every discussion thread about the game, I would have barely noticed it ingame. Like a "huh, these checkpoints respawn quick" and I would have literally never thought of it again. The "everyone shoots you on sight" issue has more merit, and I would have preferred a more dynamic faction system with NPCs you could befriend, enemies you could dialogue with, etc. - but, once again, that's me playing the imaginary game-that-could-have-been in my head.

Far Cry 2 as is, is a wonderful experience. It has a haunting, lonely quality that I just dig (similar to Fallout 3 in terms of tone and feel). I love the landscape, the freedom to roam. The game is just beautiful - I never minded the travel times. I appreciate the abrupt shifts from tranquility to deadly, loud violence (the game is best played with music off, volume up). The gunplay feels solid, explosions and fire are outstanding. The chaos man can cause in this peaceful landscape is wonderful.

All things considered, I do agree the game is better in shorter doses, it doesn't really lend itself to extended sessions, because the repetitive nature of the game does set in. I still play a couple times a month on my second character on hard difficulty (which should be the default, the normal setting is far too forgiving).
« Last Edit: September 23, 2009, 04:03:44 PM by AcidCat »
Azazel
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Reply #2 on: September 23, 2009, 10:44:07 PM

The insane respawn times is an issue, because on a huge percentage of the missions you have to go through a checkpoint about 500 metres before the base/whatever that has the objective in it. When you first play the game you'll approach cautiously (or not) and take out all the guys there, then go off into the nearby objective. As soon as you're heading out again, those guys have automagically respawned. That's too quick.

I don't really get what you mean by "the game you think it should be". It, like all games has expectations. It also has marketing, and they made the choice to reuse the Far Cry name, yet divorce the game from the original. It's a decent-to-good shooting game engine, set in a well-realised world, with severe structural flaws and a number of poor design decisions.

I mean, games aren't created and played in a vaccum. Everything is compared to everything else in it's genre or similar genres. FWIW, I'd never read about how fast those guys respawn before I was already well pissed off with that mechanic. I got pissed off with that mechanic, because it's fucking stupid and breaks the game's immersion. Same deal with the shoot-on-sight. Both are unrealistic to a degree that they annoy the shit out of the player, especially since the game goes to such lengths elsewhere to create realistic looking settings, a day/night/weather cycle, etc. Those are expectations set up by the game itself, not by comparison to other games. Listing other games where it has been done better simply illustrates that someone else "got it right" in a similar setting/genre/whatever.

Anyway, I uninstalled it earlier today to make space, after deciding that I won't actually get around to playing it again anytimne soon. Far Cry 3 won't be a Day1 or me, at any rate.

http://azazelx.wordpress.com/ - My Miniatures and Hobby Blog.
AcidCat
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Reply #3 on: September 24, 2009, 12:37:46 PM

I guess I don't see the respawning guards as a problem because - in a game where the basic mechanic is killing dudes, well, here are more dudes to kill. And often I didn't go back the same way I came, I had a tendency to meander, so that lessened the issue of hiting a checkpoint then turning around and going back through that same checkpoint, which I rarely did.

LK
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Reply #4 on: September 24, 2009, 02:45:40 PM

I'm playing this game now and I spend most of my time driving roads and dealing with psychic (not psycho) AI. It doesn't feel as good as it should. Don't even get me started on the 360 achievements. "Here, go grind this for 60 hours."

You're dead-on with your evaluation of the game. I am not sure how much I'm going to play but I hope to at least finish.

"Then there's the double-barreled shotgun from Doom 2 - no-one within your entire household could be of any doubt that it's been fired because it sounds like God slamming a door on his fingers." - Yahtzee Croshaw
Sky
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Reply #5 on: September 24, 2009, 04:46:28 PM

I got this on the cheap cheap a while ago and haven't been back to it for a while. The psychic enemies bugged me in Far Cry, and it seems like more of the same. I'll probably be bored some day and want some shooteryness, but there's a decent pile of games I'd load before FC2.

Azazel
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Reply #6 on: September 24, 2009, 10:24:51 PM

I guess I don't see the respawning guards as a problem because - in a game where the basic mechanic is killing dudes, well, here are more dudes to kill. And often I didn't go back the same way I came, I had a tendency to meander, so that lessened the issue of hiting a checkpoint then turning around and going back through that same checkpoint, which I rarely did.

If you randomly meander it's probably less of an issue. If you're trying to get a few missions done in a single gaming session it becomes much more pronounced, especially on the second map. You will (may) also start catching the buses around much more often, because the guy that gives you a mission will be on one side of the map and the actual mission will be on the other fucking side, meaning a 15-min (IRL) drive there through a billion unavoidable bad-man checkpoints or a 7min drive if you catch the buses in and out, but which will require you to drive through the same couple of checkpoints on your way in and out back to the bus stop so you can get another mission within the hour. Chances are that you will want to get missions done more than meander by that stage, since the game is so repetitive.


http://azazelx.wordpress.com/ - My Miniatures and Hobby Blog.
AcidCat
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Reply #7 on: September 25, 2009, 12:12:05 PM

If I didn't want to deal with a checkpoint my usual method was to see how many dudes I could run over as I sped through. Of course at least one would give chase in a vehicle, but it's simple and quick to slide into the gun and nail them as they're coming up behind you and then be on your way.

But I can understand if you're taking a more "I just want to get shit done" approach to the game these checkpoint scenarios would soon be just an annoyance.
Tarami
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Reply #8 on: September 25, 2009, 05:11:18 PM

I understand many of your gripes Azazel, with the respawning mechanism and such, but if one like me just enjoys the simplicity of driving around, immersing oneself in the setting and murdering tons of dudes, this is a fantastic game. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's in my top 5 of FPS experiences ever and I've played a truckload of shooters in my day.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that FC2 is a very polarizing game. Some hate it, some love it. AcidCat was very close to how I feel about FC2, Thanks for reminding me, I need to take it for another spin. :)

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LK
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Reply #9 on: September 25, 2009, 05:19:27 PM

Environment is beautiful but I don't see an open, immersive world so much as a bunch of interconnected chokepoints that force me through respawning enemies and can be a bitch to drive around since I can't see the road half the time when off-roading and just about every outcropping will take out my vehicle.

"Then there's the double-barreled shotgun from Doom 2 - no-one within your entire household could be of any doubt that it's been fired because it sounds like God slamming a door on his fingers." - Yahtzee Croshaw
Tarami
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Reply #10 on: September 25, 2009, 06:09:28 PM

Not immersive? There might be a lack of varied tasks or engaging plot in the game, but I don't know man, it's on a visceral level the most immersive game I've ever played. Right now I'm perching on a cliff, spying on a camp 500 yards away through my scope, and in an oddly eerie, subconscious way I've been noticing that the wind speed has increased, the light has faded and the air is thick with sand blown in from the desert. Overhead, the birds are gone and clouds are gathering. I'm about to kill five dudes in ten seconds and I'm asking myself, "I wonder if we'll get rain..."

So yeah. YMMV.

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Reply #11 on: September 25, 2009, 06:15:36 PM

You can spy on dudes in Far Cry?  My brief experience in Far Cry 1 was that as soon as there was line of sight between me and them (ignoring non-clipping visual obstacles like shrubs and stuff, of course) they'd start shooting, even if they were only a pixel tall on my screen once I actually got out from behind the shrubs to see where the hell the magic bullets were coming from.

Mmm, immersion.   awesome, for real

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
Azazel
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Reply #12 on: September 28, 2009, 03:31:42 AM

Not immersive? There might be a lack of varied tasks or engaging plot in the game, but I don't know man, it's on a visceral level the most immersive game I've ever played. Right now I'm perching on a cliff, spying on a camp 500 yards away through my scope, and in an oddly eerie, subconscious way I've been noticing that the wind speed has increased, the light has faded and the air is thick with sand blown in from the desert. Overhead, the birds are gone and clouds are gathering. I'm about to kill five dudes in ten seconds and I'm asking myself, "I wonder if we'll get rain..."

So yeah. YMMV.

Like I said, they did a great job with the game world, and the shooting mechanics.

It's all the other stuff that doesn't work for me. Hopefully FC3 takes note and removes/tones down the silly stuff and keeps the good stuff.


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Sky
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Reply #13 on: September 28, 2009, 09:09:36 AM

Yes, the telepathic guards with x-ray vision kinda spoil the immersion they work so hard to gain. I loved Far Cry, one of my favorite shooters.

But I always played with godmode because they were pretty cheaty with the AI. On the other hand, best godmode in any game I've used it (which isn't saying much, I almost never use cheats). Rather than make you invulnerable, it just runs a counter for how many times you would've died. So you can use armor and lose health normally, pretty much play the game as intended...just no messing around with reloading when some boat 2 miles away sees you in the jungle, hidden behind the bushes.

AcidCat
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Reply #14 on: September 28, 2009, 11:21:20 AM

Not immersive? There might be a lack of varied tasks or engaging plot in the game, but I don't know man, it's on a visceral level the most immersive game I've ever played. Right now I'm perching on a cliff, spying on a camp 500 yards away through my scope, and in an oddly eerie, subconscious way I've been noticing that the wind speed has increased, the light has faded and the air is thick with sand blown in from the desert. Overhead, the birds are gone and clouds are gathering. I'm about to kill five dudes in ten seconds and I'm asking myself, "I wonder if we'll get rain..."

So yeah. YMMV.

Well put.

And I didn't have much trouble with dudes spotting me right away as long as I kept moving once I started shooting. Or operate at night time for better results. Many times I would strike a camp then immediately move to a different location, and I'd watch the dudes go searching around where I was. But if you shoot and remain where you are, yeah, expect them to come right to you.
LK
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Reply #15 on: September 28, 2009, 12:49:03 PM

I've pinpointed their AI routine. If a buddy is close when struck down by sniper fire, or a body is discovered, it puts enemies into "alert" mode. They'll instantly know where you are if another clue to your location is provided (missed shot from any direction, another buddy downed). They'll head directly to where you are (regardless of your actual location versus your sniping location). Again, any action that isn't "run and hide" will clue them instantly on your location.

If a group of AI enemies is isolated, like a Sniper's Nest or only two guys in one area, they won't alert the rest of the crowd if you take them out, regardless of their alert status.

Also, most interesting to note is that any enemy changing cover will pause momentarily if you miss a shot near them, allowing you to quickly line them up and take them out.

Killing someone with your knife does not count as a stealthy action. This was disappointing.

"Then there's the double-barreled shotgun from Doom 2 - no-one within your entire household could be of any doubt that it's been fired because it sounds like God slamming a door on his fingers." - Yahtzee Croshaw
Tarami
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Reply #16 on: September 28, 2009, 05:26:23 PM

I think the AI works really well most of the time. Yes, occasionally it makes you go "why the f- did they spot me now?!" but I think it's rarely enough to suspect that there was some real reason to why you were spotted. At night, in the guille suit, crouching, you can practically tie their shoelaces together without getting noticed. I crawled my way into the middle of the junkyard without getting noticed. Stay in the shadows, behind some cover (foliage counts as far as I've noticed) and use suppressed weapons. There's a big difference between alerting them in general and alerting them of -where- you are. Yes, they did notice me when I blew up the compressor with a hand grenade. Then it hurt a lot and I ran a lot.

And yes, like Lorekeep said, they twitch and cower if you shoot at them and miss. It's neat because you can suppress them by simply spraying in their general direction.

That's another thing I find really... endearing about FC2. There are so many small cool details. Ever noticed that the lens in sniper scopes becomes reflective if it's frontlit (you turn away from a strong light source) and transparent when it's backlit, just like actual glass? The way foliage bends over farther when it rains? Ammo dumps that actually spray bullets around while they're on fire and explosive dumps that blow up majestically. That fire propagates faster in the wind direction and that rain douses it. That enemies apologize to eachother when they accidentally fire close or at one another. ("Oh fuck!" "Christ, I'm sorry!") How firing an RPG sitting down in dry grass will make it catch on fire and burn your butt and, if fired at too close a distance at an enemy, it'll hit them before it has primed and bludgeon them, possibly still killing them.

I'm not saying this is the best game ever, it certainly isn't, but, it's... really nice in some ways.

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Reply #17 on: September 28, 2009, 06:09:52 PM

The way foliage bends over farther when it rains?

See, that sort of thing is precisely why I put down Far Cry 1 after the demo.  They obviously put all this effort into making the foliage look good but they completely botched having it serve a logical function in the world like obscuring enemy vision.  I couldn't shake the feeling that they were insulting my intelligence.

"Nice attempted blast about my "drinking".  I do enjoy a nice cuppa, but that is because I am a bon vivant of gregarious nature and cheery disposition." - Ab
Tarami
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Reply #18 on: September 28, 2009, 06:30:18 PM

See, that sort of thing is precisely why I put down Far Cry 1 after the demo.  They obviously put all this effort into making the foliage look good but they completely botched having it serve a logical function in the world like obscuring enemy vision.  I couldn't shake the feeling that they were insulting my intelligence.


wink

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LK
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Reply #19 on: September 28, 2009, 06:55:40 PM

This reminds me of that article Jeff Green wrote about Blizzard. "Hey everyone check out how the rain falls in my game!" "Nobody cares."

"Then there's the double-barreled shotgun from Doom 2 - no-one within your entire household could be of any doubt that it's been fired because it sounds like God slamming a door on his fingers." - Yahtzee Croshaw
Sky
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Reply #20 on: September 29, 2009, 09:11:08 AM

Tarami, those little details are great. I love that immersive stuff. I'm a huge graphics whore, too.

But to me the most critical portion of a single-player game is good AI. It's almost non-existant. It's the shame of the gaming industry, that graphics and sound have gone so far and AI is an afterthought. Far Cry falls down because you're in this beautifully detailed world and the AI breaks the verisimilitude constantly.

Tarami
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Reply #21 on: October 02, 2009, 01:19:57 AM

Woo, passed out at the party.

Fair enough Sky, it's wholly subjective whether FC2 has "good enough" AI or not. I don't normally give AI a pass, in fact I've nerdraged quite a bit about it earlier, but then again I usually have lower standards for AI in shooters, as stupid enemies can actually make it more fun to kill them.

And yeah, I'm a major graphics/technology whore. smiley Discovering that someone has spent four days to make glass shatter realistically is just satisfying. Thus I also whole-heartedly disagree with Jeff Green's statement. tongue

- I'm giving you this one for free.
- Nothing's free in the waterworld.
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