Looking back: why it's time to return to Far Cry 2 | PCGamesN

Looking back: why it's time to return to Far Cry 2

far cry 2 ubisoft

I've been playing Far Cry 4 a lot the last few weeks, and the main thing that occurs to me is that it's not quite what I expected from the fourth game. I presumed something much different. The Far Cry series has always been about change and experimentation. The first three games, whilst all sharing common elements, are distinctly separate games in tone and feel. 

Far Cry 2 is the most obvious when it comes to being different. On the Venn diagram of Far Cry games it is the one that has the most components outside the shared zone. When it released in 2008 it wasn't fully embraced, with its harsh world and respawning checkpoints seen as a stain on the original game's fun legacy. But how does Far Cry 2 fit in today, in a world where Far Cry 4 is just more of Far Cry 3, and the shooter landscape is a distinctly different beast?

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 is savage. Until you replay, you might not remember quite how savage it really is. You play a mercenary heading into an African war-zone with just one thing on your mind: making shed-loads of cash by murdering an arms dealer. There are layers of story about how this merchant - the Jackal - has been keeping the civil war going by providing arms to both sides, and how you putting a bullet in his skull will help bring peace to the nation. But it's clear you don't care. You’re a man who will hold a machete to the throat of any potential information source, a professional killer who will decimate a town in order to bring down a single target. This is about the money, and it's money that comes in the form of blood diamonds. 

To get those diamonds, you'll have to wage war against the entire country on your own. You can undertake missions for both factions enraged in this civil war, but neither will admit to hiring you, and as such the entire population is out to get you. This makes Far Cry 2's savannah open-world a distinctly harsh, unforgiving land. There's distrust in everyone's dialogue, and simply passing a man will cause him to open fire on you. Travelling from one side of the map to another will require you to get past multiple checkpoints that will always be manned by soldiers ready to give chase, and it makes commuting consistently stressful. You may be the hunter, but there's an entire nation hunting you, too. 

Shootouts are difficult. Guns rattle around with inaccuracy, and begin to jam and misfire as they collect dirt during your travels. There’s a unique desperation in trying to free a jammed shell from the breach whilst under fire. Shooting a rocket launcher into a vehicle convoy may seem a great quick-fix, but when the backblast sets fire to the dry grass behind you and you’re suddenly ablaze the decision becomes regretful. Get shot and you’ll have to perform excruciating field surgery whilst cowering behind a jeep. The muted brown colour palette makes it hard to track your targets among the trees and grass. It's a hundred worlds away from Far Cry 4, where all your enemies wear bright red uniforms for easy identification. 

far cry 2 ubisoft

Playing Far Cry 2 six years after release, this kind of combat feels distinctly more familiar now than it did at the time. Difficult is in vogue, and the gun battles in Far Cry 2 remind me of the struggles of Dark Souls. With no checkpoints or auto saves, unless you’re vigilant with the save system dying can mean having to retread an hour of progress. Death has significant consequences, and that works as a teacher to encourage a more deliberate, careful approach to the world. Outwit its systems and you’ll live another day. 

Far Cry 2 is also made up of the DNA of today’s most popular survival games. Fights are desperate scrambles. People are the biggest danger out there. Far Cry 2's lack of minimap and fast travel means you need to travel everywhere in real-time and through the use of physical in-game maps. They're maps that don't rotate based on your direction, and that don't zoom; you frequently have to tear through pages of an atlas to find the right scale of map for the information you need. Combined with using landmarks and street-signs for navigation, this distinctly reminds me of navigating DayZ's Chernarus map, using downloaded maps and rail-station signs as references. 

It’s a single-player survival game, then. It just came out half a decade before people had developed a taste for them. You don't have to fend off hunger, true, but something worse than starvation looms over you at all times: malaria. Forget to keep stocked up on medicine, and you'll be stumbling around in the heat of battle as fever rages through your body.

Far Cry 4's set up is broadly similar to its grandfather: sent into a strange and unfamiliar land submerged deep in the blood of civil war, with the aim of assassinating the man responsible. And yet, whilst Far Cry 4 does everything it can to make its word atmospherically hostile, it's a fun-time playground of discovery, amusing car chases, and exploding elephants. And that's just fine, because that's exactly what it was designed to be. Far Cry 2, through lining its systems up with the narrative, genuinely creates a hostile and unnerving world. You play a savage in a savage land. It's a rough, haggard game in the best possible way, that thanks to altered trends stands up much better today that it did at launch. It's by far the most interesting Far Cry has ever been, and now more than ever is the perfect time to revisit its savannah. 

GOTW
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Tovias avatarApocalypsy avatarUntoldAv3nGer avatar1N07 avatarWhiteCrow avatarBolivar avatar+3
Apocalypsy Avatar
49
3 Years ago

Far Cry 2 is by far my favorite of the far cry series. Having played all of them, none has the raw atmosphere of Far Cry 2. Yes Malaria was a bitch, but in real life it is too. The gunplay and the punishing world made the game so much more realistic, while I wouldn't mind a better plot. I hope thenext Far Cry game is more Far Cry 2-esque!

3
UntoldAv3nGer Avatar
399
3 Years ago

Thank you for writing this, Matt! I have played most of Far Cry 1 and stopped, and recently got and played some of Far Cry 4 with my new GTX 970, but Far Cry 2 is the BOMB! The world looks real and fantastic on Ultra settings. The world is hostile and creates an endless challenge, and there is fast-travel if you feel like travelling quickly. The guns are all different and suit different players equally, the gunplay feels real, is "savage" as you said, and is sad; when I shoot an enemy, that enemy has a chance of living and will lie on the ground and moan or shout. Enemies are not just mindless maniacs for the sake of it like in Far Cry 4. While the AI is not always the best, enemy interactions are realistic and enemies are deadly in the higher difficulties. On that note, play on Hardcore or Infamous and the combat and its dangers are real. The music is great and it has great replay value; I play about every weekend. All shooters would benefit from being like Far Cry 2. There is no HUD also :)

3
WhiteCrow Avatar
697
3 Years ago

I honestly loved, and still love Far Cry 2. It's nice to see others agree. Even shortly after release I loved it, as opposed to most people warming up to it after a few years. I'm not entirely sure what about the game in particular makes me love it so, but I do make time to play through it at least once a year.

I play without a crosshair and HUD, also on the hardest difficulty. To this day it's still one of the best FPS experiences I've ever had. I love the gun mechanics, the visceral feel of firefights, and the unrelenting difficulty. You could literally die anywhere at almost any time if you don't play smart.

3
Bolivar Avatar
2
3 Years ago

With how far PC hardware has progressed since 2008, it is indeed a great time to return to Far Cry 2. I'm running the game at the full frame rate of my 144Hz monitor and it is very much creeping into my personal top games of all time list. Downsampling from 1440p or even 4K brings its image quality very much inline with current expectations.

The biggest complaint levied against it, the repetitive checkpoints, are largely negated by how the game rewards you for going off the beaten path towards your objectives. Leaving the road behind allows you to circumvent the checkpoints and often rewards you with hidden diamonds and gorgeous, hand-placed secluded locations. I never saw anything interesting hidden off the side in Far Cry 3 but almost everywhere I turn in FC2, I get that "what's over there?" wanderlust that only the Bethesda games manage to replicate.

2
Tovias Avatar
1026
3 Years ago

I haven't played Far Cry 4 but one of the things that bothered me the most of Far Cry 3 was how they dumped sprint limit, weapon condition and fire mechanics out of the window. It really killed the game for me because this added so much depth to the combat that it was just lame to fight in that game when you compare it with Far Cry 2.

I loved ambushing convoys in Far Cry 2? Let it be by blocking the road and blowing them up with a salvaged bomb or just setting everything on fire. It's a damn shame the game felt so unfinished at the end.

1
1N07 Avatar
427
3 Years ago

I loved both Far Cry 2 and 3 and was really hoping for something new with Far Cry 4... Unfortunately it didn't deliver that well. It's just basically more of the same.

I'll probably still enjoy it, when I get around to playing it at some point though.

1
Virago Avatar
1
3 Years ago

Obviously Far Cry 2 is the best in the series. Far Cry 4 is too fantasy.

Far Cry 3 was at least pretending to be realistic and, for people who love FC2, i would recommend to play it with the latest version of ziggy's mod: gives you the closest to FC2 as you can get by tweaking weather system and day/night cycle among other things.

1
Blobfish 101 Avatar
1
2 Years ago

Far Cry 2 has always been my favourite FPS I've played. I thought that Far Cry 3 would be similar when it was announced, but it just felt far too much like an arcade shooter. The gameplay in Far Cry 3 is far less immerive, due to things like the mini map, wall hacks by tagging enemies and the pointer which shows you when enemies can see you and which direction they are in. Also there are many crazy fantacy missions in the story mode that just make the game feel unrealistic. (And Far Cry 4 is no different in these regards.)

I admit that there were some problems with Far Cry 2, such as malaria being a complete pain, and it was difficult to travel from place to place, due to frequently respawning outposts, but overall, no other game has given me the same feel as being a badass mercinary in a realistic feeling war torn world.

I don't think that there has been a true sequel to Far Cry 2, so I often find myself coming back to it. I would really like Ubisoft to revisit this genre of FPS.

1
Jirayut Avatar
1
1 Year ago

Far Cry 2 and Instincts were the most distinct and unique in the series, Primal changed it up a little too

1