Far Cry 2

Discuss whatever you'd like with the Infinitap Games community here!
Grabthehoopka
Posts: 316
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:16 pm

Far Cry 2

Post by Grabthehoopka »

I'd never played Far Cry 2 before, but I have played and loved Far Cry 3 and the first one, back in the day, so I got it on steam during a daily sale for $2.50. Started playing it and enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought it for PS3, since I wanted to enjoy it without turning the graphics down to ultra-suck to prevent my computer from exploding (I do not have much of a gaming PC).

Anyways, the game and its own flaws aside, I was shocked by how absorbing the story was, and what a step down Far Cry 3 is in that regard. It reminded me a lot of Spec Ops: The Line, in that not only is the story setup similar, but it also does a really good job of portraying war and conflict in an extremely negative and pessimistic light. Of course, Spec Ops is way, WAY more audacious in terms of what it makes the player see and do, and is more effective as a horror game because of that. Far Cry 2 deals with that sort of stuff almost entirely in subtext, but at the same time, I got the same sort of feeling playing through the story missions that I did playing through Spec Ops, that kind of creeping, depressing, completely helpless feeling that everything is just shitty and nothing I do will make any difference. So, despite you not witnessing anything singularly horrifying like in Spec Ops, I think the reason it works so well is because the story is toned-down and realistic, so unlike Spec Ops, you get the particular feeling in the back of your mind that this has happened, is happening, and will happen somewhere in the world.

The premise, from the outset, is that you are a mercenary freshly arrived in Africa hired to kill a powerful and enigmatic arms dealer known only as "The Jackal". The game does a good job from the start of basically villainizing him and making everything going on seem like it's all his doing, but after a while, you sort of start to realize that he isn't the one to blame for all the conflict going on. You do off-the-book jobs for the two warring factions in the country in hopes of getting information on The Jackal from one of them, and you learn that both sides of this civil war are the worst, just the worst scum of the earth imaginable. I mean, it's fairly common in video games for villains to be like caricatures, to say and do really bad things to make us hate them, but the people you help in Far Cry 2 are not puppy-kicking mustache-twirling villains whose purpose in the story is for us to hate them, they're soldiers and businessmen that are in the business of accruing power and wealth, and do so by stomping all over everyone in their way, even the civilians and indigenous people that they are supposedly fighting for. But they don't act like villains, a lot of them are rather nice to you, in fact, and you're the one doing their dirty work. And so after a while, you get the feeling that participating in this conflict is a sisyphean task, and the longer you spend looking for him and listening to the interview tapes you collect, the more you start to sympathize with The Jackal, the one person that you came here to kill. He isn't any more to blame for the wars going on than you are, and if you kill him, some other arms dealer will just take his place.

The only sympathetic people in the game are really The Underground and your Buddies. The Underground represents, well, an underground resistance network that forges and smuggles transit papers, so all the defenseless and terrified civilians who are caught in the crossfire between the two factions and their PMCs that are fighting over them have a chance to escape the closed borders, and the only reason your character helps them at all is because they're the only ones with the malaria medication you need to live. They realize this, of course, and they withhold it from you, giving you a few pills every time you do a job for them (which, unlike the other two factions, just involves delivering transit papers to Underground bases around the game world. And killing any PMCs that happen to be besieging them when you arrive). Your Buddies are other expat mercenaries, just like you, who help you out with various things and also give you personal missions on occasion. They're the only ones that are friendly and actively try and help you, but even then, they all have unscrupulous shades as well (one character gives you a personal mission to track down and kill a guy who sold him a bad car). But, just so you don't get too optimistic, the game treats your buddies with about the same level of reverence that George R.R. Martin treats his with.

On a completely different note, another part of the game that surprised me right off the bat is the ethnic diversity of the main characters. When you start a new game, it asks you to pick from one of nine characters to play as. They are-
  • A Brazilian-born American,
  • An Algerian,
  • A Mauritian Sikh,
  • A Kosovar Albanian,
  • A Hungarian-born Israeli,
  • A Haitian,
  • An American,
  • A Northern Irishman,
  • and a Chinese (wow, there's no real way to say that without sounding racist is there?)
I was pleasantly surprised. I've never seen such a specifically diverse cast of playable characters in a videogame, and while I do believe that the best way to treat something that handles racial diversity well is to treat it as if it isn't a big deal; in the stagnant, play-it-safe realm of the western entertainment world, it IS a big deal, and I think credit is due to the devs. There's no difference between them, of course, except for the character model when you look down at your own body, but doing this meant more work for them. They could have just made the protagonist White F. Male (the F stands for Five o'clock shadow) like all the other games out there and gotten away with it, and they would've only had to make one character model for the player character, but no, they went the extra mile. Of course, the ONE caveat I have with this is that there are three additional buddies that are not playable: A Cuban, A Tajik, and a French (heh heh, heh heh, pronouns sure are tricky, aren't they? Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?). The difference, of course, is that these three are female. And so comes the Assassin's Creed Unity debate, 8 years ahead of its time. The character model you see in first person of the nine different characters are all basically reskins of the same model, but there's a lot of complicated animations that involve interacting with your own body, especially with the "field first aid" animations you do when you're at critical health, and so if you just applied the female skin to the base male model, the slightly different build of the female character model would probably make some of the animations look weird. Now, I will give them that for the vanilla game, but the fact of the matter is, they made post-launch DLC for the game, so they can't blame a lack of time or resources for it. At some point during development, they made the conscious decision that a handful of extra weapons, vehicles, and multiplayer maps were a more worthwhile use of their resources than letting you play as a female character, which I think is bullcrap.

So anyways, as much as I would love to give specific examples of what I talked about, I have a feeling that Far Cry 2 hasn't been played much, and thus, I would be spoiling the most powerful and memorable story moments for everyone. Has anyone else played this? And furthermore, can this thread last for more than a few posts before devolving into a debate about female characters in videogames?

If anyone's wondering, obviously, I heartily recommend Far Cry 2. However, take my opinion with a fistful of salt. It is far from perfect, and I can be very, very forgiving to a game if it does a few things really well. And also, if you're doubly wondering, despite it being a story about a man sent to Africa to track down a mysterious and powerful figure and see the darkest side of humanity in the process, it is NOT a remake of Heart of Darkness. There's a little reference to it at one point, but that's it, so credit where credit is due to the writers.

User avatar
RightClickSaveAs
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:22 pm

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by RightClickSaveAs »

Wow, thanks for the very interesting writeup. I had no idea Far Cry 2 had all that going on with the story, I only ever played the first one, and I assumed the second one was more of the same. When it came out, all I remember hearing about it was the malaria mechanic and complaints about the gameplay. Looks like it's another to add to my Steam wishlist, especially at $2.50 :)

Harry Sunderland
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:27 am

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by Harry Sunderland »

It's not surprising that you find both plots to be similar, as both are heavily inspired by Conrad's Heart of Darkness (which Matt referenced in his Spec Ops Dev Diary).

It's a short read (I finished it after about two weeks of reading it exclusively on the treadmill), and it's on Project Gutenberg if you'd like to dive into the source material. :mrgreen:

User avatar
matt
Posts: 2316
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:48 am

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by matt »

D'oh! It looks like I missed the $2.50 sale. Still, maybe I'll check it out if I ever get a chance... Sooo mannnyyy games!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

User avatar
gagaplex
Posts: 245
Joined: Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:32 am

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by gagaplex »

I did get it, although to be fair only as a part of the Far Cry Complete bundle (I really, really wanted Blood Dragon primarily and Far Cry 3 secondarily - yes, those were my priorities!), but now I'm really glad I picked it up!

Harry Sunderland
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:27 am

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by Harry Sunderland »

Gagaplex, Blood Dragon filled me with complete joy. Sgt. Rex Power Colt is a bad ass!

User avatar
matt
Posts: 2316
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:48 am

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by matt »

Joe loved Blood Dragon. I'm not really into open-world style games (I guess with the exception of Dead Rising 3), so I haven't gotten it, but maybe one of these days, I'll give it a try...
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Grabthehoopka
Posts: 316
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 12:16 pm

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by Grabthehoopka »

I started this thread cause I thought it was similar to Spec Ops: The Line and it was relevant to the character diversity dev diary, but I also thought of a link to dev diaries and discussions about immersion as well.

I don't know why it's taken me so long to realize, but I figured out why Far Cry 2 is so much more immersive than Far Cry 3: because you don't have to pause the game for anything. Far Cry 3 is great and all, but you have to pause the game to look at your map, pause the game to craft medecine, pause the game to level up, pause the game to buy and equip weapons, etc etc etc. Far Cry 2 has a physical map you pull out and look at without pausing the game. To equip weapons, you walk into an armory, where all the guns you own are physically present and you physically pick them up. You do have to pause the game to purchase weapons and the like, but you do it at a computer console at the arms dealer's, and since the computer itself looks like a 20+ year old apple computer, the menu that you do it in suitably looks like an old fashioned monochrome CRT monitor, so it never really feels like you're leaving the game world when you do so. Also, one of the complaints that actually helps the game in my opinion is that it takes a loooong time to get from point A to point B. Both of the regions only have 5 fast travel points, one in the center and one in each corner, in the form of bus stations, but other than that you have to go the old fashioned way, and the game world is absolutely huge, something like 50 square kilometers, so there's a whole lot of trekking through the wilderness. But, the gameplay is never interrupted, and I think that's what makes all the difference.

Also, when you pick something up, rather than it just disappearing, having teleported it into your pocket with your mind powers, there's an animation of you picking it up with your hand, which is neat.

User avatar
matt
Posts: 2316
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:48 am

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by matt »

Also, when you pick something up, rather than it just disappearing, having teleported it into your pocket with your mind powers, there's an animation of you picking it up with your hand, which is neat.
I completely agree! I thought I was the only one who felt things like that destroyed immersion. As much as I love Amnesia (and Soma look amazing), the disembodied hand holding objects in the center of the screen always reminds me I'm playing a video game. Putting a character's hand on an object is tough in some situations (especially if you want a lot of manipulation for the objects), so I can see why they do it.

Half Life 2's gravity gun was a really good solution but obviously doesn't work for ever style or setting. Dead Space did an amazing job of making the UI elements work in game, which was awesome because it didn't ever really take you out of the game world.

I wish more games would take that approach, and it's a shame that Far Cry 3 took a step backwards. :-/

Some day I want to try playing Jurassic Park: Trespasser since it pioneered having the player interact with the physics objects (with a crazy wavy arm or something), and they had it completely HUD-less (granted with the concession that you have to look at a boob heart tattoo to see your heart). I guess the game was way too ahead of its time!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

User avatar
RightClickSaveAs
Posts: 535
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 4:22 pm

Re: Far Cry 2

Post by RightClickSaveAs »

Trespasser was apparently a huge mess, despite (or maybe because of) all the cool things they tried to do. My favorite Trespasser video, and one of my favorite video game clips in general:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH7BlBb8Oxg

Post Reply