I have one positive thing to say about Far Cry 2: unlike most games, it has zebras. Outside of that single contribution, however, it’s one of the most mindless, tedious, unbearable games ever released. What makes it especially painful is the promise it squanders at every possibility. Sure, it supposedly offers you a chance to sneak around a vast African landscape and stealthily take out enemies, but stealth is broken. Sure, you can try to go into every situation guns-blazing, but respawning checkpoints full of bloodthirsty enemies who follow you ensure that you’ll end up losing tons of ammo and health just getting from point A to point B. There’s really no “right” way to play Far Cry 2 because everything is so laughably broken and backward that it fails to be fun in any sense of the word.
Characters? What characters?
Are you looking for an open-world shooter with a solid story and memorable characters? If so, then Far Cry 2 isn’t the game you’re looking for. Not only is the overarching story totally braindead, being little more than a few boring “kill/destroy something” missions that offer absolutely no exposition, but the various characters you’ll meet throughout the game are absolutely worthless. The only ones who you learn anything about are your “buddies,” and you never learn anything remotely interesting about them (and even if you hypothetically did, they’re constantly being replaced by new buddies, ensuring that you never have the opportunity to get attached). Really, they’re just there as fellow mercenaries who occasionally offer you sidequests. Outside of that, they’re little more than decorations to trick you into thinking that there are actual characters in this game. There aren’t.
One of the worst endings ever
“Unfulfilling” doesn’t even begin to describe how awful Far Cry 2’s ending is. While most games give you some kind of option or ending based on your previous choices, this game instead railroads you into doing some truly stupid and deplorable things, many of which run counter to your own self-interest. It’s difficult to explain why the ending is as bad as it is without using any spoilers, but suffice it to say that virtually nothing is actually resolved, and it’s bound to leave you sitting back at the main menu wondering why you bothered forcing yourself to finish the game; I had high hopes that the end would include some huge revelation that made all of the game’s many flaws worth fighting through, but all I ended up finding was more mediocrity. Put simply, “unfettered regret for wasting your time” is what you’re bound to be feeling once you’ve finished, and that’s never a good sign.
Several games have included elements of weapon degradation, but none have made it quite as irritating a mechanic as Far Cry 2. Not only do your weapons constantly jam—especially in the beginning when you only have access to enemies’ weapons—but they also have a tendency to outright break, forcing you to discard many weapons altogether. Doing a bunch of missions for weapon shop owners nets you better weapons that rarely jam (as well as access to unlimited numbers of that weapon so long as you’re willing to go out of your way to find one of the rare weapon shops), but they still break far too often. Of course, enemies’ weapons never jam or break when they’re using them, so this is purely a player restriction, and there are few things as game-y and artificial as having your weapon jam twice in the middle of a heated firefight. Even more amusing is the fact that there’s no way to tell if your weapon is close to breaking or jamming outside of how it appears (which doesn’t offer much information).
Not only do weapons break and jam, but your character is also dealing with malaria symptoms. What this means is that the screen will occasionally turn green and blur, and this means that you have to take your malaria medicine by pressing H (or whatever the equivalent gamepad button is). This wouldn’t be a big deal if the medicine didn’t constantly run out, but it does, and you end up having to do missions in exchange for more. This pads out the game significantly, and there are few things as frustrating as having to drop whatever you’re doing to run all over in exchange for medicine.
Every mission is a joke
Far Cry 2’s mission design is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. First off, all of the missions for weapon shop owners are identical: drive way out of your way, blow up a convoy, mission completed. The “main” missions are rarely better, usually sending you somewhere to destroy/kill something or someone. These missions also send you far across the map, which means 10-20 minutes of walking and driving that serve no purpose but padding out the game. This contributes to huge portions of the game consisting of nothing but getting from point A to point B, and it’s every bit as boring as it sounds.
AI, minus the intelligence
Of course, “boring” isn’t nearly bad enough for the likes of this game, so it makes sure to pepper the game map with guard posts and random enemies driving around. This wouldn’t be a problem if the people you were working for made sure to avoid shooting you, but the programmers for this game were apparently so lazy that every mission includes someone telling you that it’s a super-secret mission and even the people you’re working for will shoot you on sight.
Far Cry 2’s AI is the worst I’ve ever seen in a game, period. 100% of enemies outside of the few rare “cease fire zones” are bloodthirsty brutes who will not only open fire on you on sight, but actually get in vehicles and follow you while shooting. Naturally, they don’t attack each other. No, they’ve decided that you’re uniquely deserving of death and will work together to gun you down. Simply driving by enemies often results in them destroying your vehicle with a rain of bullets (or barring that, killing you while you’re in it), so the huge distances between missions are made even worse for all of the random enemies you have to dispatch on the way, and since they respawn, you also have to deal with this on the way back. It all makes for one of the least pleasant game experiences I’ve ever had.
There is no stealth
Sure, the game lets you buy some upgrades that supposedly make it harder for enemies to see you, but the stealth mechanics are so under-implemented that they might as well not exist at all. At one point, I upgraded myself to the most stealthy gear and used a silenced pistol from some bushes far away from my enemies. With a single pistol shot (a lethal head shot), my enemy went down. However, three seconds later, every single one of the dead guy’s friends had magically located me and opened fire with unerring accuracy. This is the game’s approach to stealth in a nutshell; sure, you can sometimes sneak by enemies, but actually using a weapon, even a silenced weapon, means alerting every single nearby enemy to your exact location.
It’s also buggy as hell
At one point in the game, a new part of the map opened up (at least, I think it did—it’s difficult to tell with the game’s awful map making it impossible to tell where anything is) and a small vehicle was on the side of the road. “Sure,” I said, “I’ll take a shortcut through the desert instead of following the road.” Turns out, the game is designed to force you to take the road, and going through the desert means passing out in a continuous loop. As it turns out, getting stuck in that loop is a common occurrence, and the only way out is to exit the game or reload a previous save. That’s not even mentioning the huge number of crashes that I faced while playing, either. I’ve played through a lot of games and can tolerate one or two crashes, but Far Cry 2 crashed somewhere in the ballpark of 10-20 times over the course of a single playthrough. This is absolutely unacceptable.
As you can plainly see in the above video, there’s little to no consistency in the game: some things can be destroyed, while others are inexplicably indestructible. That doesn’t just apply to obstacles, either—enemies can be downed in a single shot if you aim for the head, but they can take 5-6 bullets to the neck without even slowing down. It makes absolutely no sense, and this constant feeling of inconsistency often makes it impossible to gauge the best way to approach a situation. After all, breaking through a fence when you’re on the run from enemies is a harder choice to make when you’re not sure whether you’ll actually break through or just bounce off, making yourself a sitting duck.
Lots and lots of brown
This game is insanely brown. Sure, the actual graphics are surprisingly advanced for 2008, but there’s no clever art design to back them up. Instead, there’s just an endless series of increasingly brown areas. For all the prettiness this game is obviously capable of, it ends up looking surprisingly bland and uninspired. On the bright side, this game is a great counter-argument to have in your back pocket the next time someone claims that graphics are the most important part of a game.
The music is also bland
While there are a few moments of strings that are reminiscent of Arcanum’s soundtrack, the vast majority of the music in Far Cry 2 is headache-inducing fluff. To give you an idea of what that means, I listened to the music for a few minutes and noticed one track where the bass strings hit the same note something like 15 times in a row. It was obviously trying to create a tense atmosphere, but it not only consistently fails to do so, but winds up being headache-inducing more often than not. The voice acting doesn’t fare much better, either, with everyone constantly sounding like they’re rushing their lines as fast as possible.
Here’s what you should do: