While there's no argument from me that the game is a bit different than anything else we've experienced. On the other hand, while I can't fully put my finger on it, something just feels missing from the game. There's an aimlessness that's different from the original Far Cry, but still somehow feels hollow. To a degree part of the problem may be that, while Far Cry was under-designed, Far Cry 2 feels almost over-designed, as though they tried to balance and account for everything.
A striking example of the over-design is the malaria. From the outset of the game, you character is infected with malaria, and it remains a striking center of the game. The intended gameplay dynamic is for you to need to interact with civilians to obtain medicine. Unfortunately, this can severely impact the game, cause convulsions and fatigue to hit you at darn inconvenient movements, and is the center-point of the health system. While some will no doubt love the twist and complexity added to the game, it reminds me of the old game cliche of a timed boss battle. Any time the game is too short, make it harder. Any time the game is too long, add a timer. It's definitely a catch I could have done without, and feels forced on you at all times.
Despite being a PC franchise at heart, there is some evidence of the consolification of te game in the way it plays. This isn't always a bad thing. Assassin's Creed did very well with a console-oriented control system, even on the PC. It didn't detract from the feel of the game at all. The control re-working for Far Cry 2 feels a bit odd though. Combinations such as pressing "5" for the map, and "R" to change the zoom factor on the map (a different map entirely) feels arbitrary and unintuitive, and right clicking to aim the weapon while left clicking to fire feels decidedly console oriented. It doesn't feel strange doing that on a console, but feels a bit forced on PC. The lack of good gun sights doesn't help matters, often feeling like you're little more than blind firing. A cross-hair is optional in the game menu, though it's obvious the design wasn't intending on its usage. In addition, the lack of skilled combat controls is slightly puzzling. While Far Cry 1 allowed all kinds of sniping and sneak attack methods, there is no prone mode in Far Cry 2, and minimal ability to duck and cover. In this regard the combat feels more like Quake or Unreal than Far Cry when in the middle of a gun fight, though your mileage may vary depending on gameplay style.
My biggest gripe about the game, though lies in its repetitive gameplay. This is a trait it shares with Assassin's Creed, though in a different way. In Assassin's Creed, there developed a very specific pattern of gameplay once you got into the meat of the game. Climb the spires, save some peasants, gather some sidequest data, then go in for the kill. Somehow, despite the arcade like nature of it, it worked, though, in part because you could do bare minimum in the early expedition phase of each area, or as much as you'd like. A similar pattern of repetition seems to exist in Far Cry, though you're not presented with achieving 4/12 of the objectives. You get a call, you do the quest (which almost always involves "obliterate the resistance") and then go rest at a safehouse or headquarters staging area. Worse, enemies respawn frequently, requiring you to frequently wipe out the same outpost or town again and again as you pass through it. Even if you're just on your way to the local friendly village for your malaria pills. Sorry, Jack, no more hapless crates strewn about the wilderness.
[Ed: LordHavoc - Despite the game's “retro” combat it offers many more possible approaches to gameplay than any other game I have played in recent memory, it's satisfying to drive through a checkpoint and run over a couple enemies, and continue on your way – or man the gun turret on your vehicle and shoot up the place, then go find the weapon cache (which secures the checkpoint so there won't be any respawning enemies at this location), so perhaps the repetition is equally a call to think of new ways to play the game.]
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