So close yet so far Cry2!

FarCry 2. So close yet so far from being an awesome immersive experience. A great blend of reality and gaming fun.

We have a game with a huge open sandbox environment. Very well-rendered vegetation and landscape (if somewhat contrived to force certain routes). A clear concept, to kill the Jackal arms smuggler, to push the story. An interesting dramatic tool to motivate the player – malaria and acquiring the medication to control it. Mercenary action that can be tackled anyway you choose: frontal assaults with overwhelming firepower, stealth and accuracy, whatever else you can do that works. Missions that pay so you can upgrade your gear, weapons and abilities (repairing weapons, accuracy enhancments, etc.) and regenerative health so you can keep playing.

Gear selection is good but ”railroaded’ to limit your load-out. You have a primary weapon: which can only be one of a set series of weapons. A secondary weapon: another set of weapons. Lastly a special weapon: another set of weapons. It forces you into carrying three classes of weapons & a knife, which isn’t really an issue. The problem is you can’t carry a SMG and a pistol. Or a pump shotgun and an assault rifle, or a RPG and an improvised explosive device because they clash in their categories. Over-simplification ruins that. If one wants to simplify it is much easier than this: use the old ‘grid-based-gear-chart’.

The weapons you find on your enemies all magically jam more often as soon as they’re in your hands. Your enemies also do not run out of ammunition (which is one of my biggest hates in any game). You can’t sell their gear.

Everyone outside of the cease-fire zones will attack you on sight. They have magic homing beacons and can shoot you through dense foliage, unerringly (within their accuracy margins) in the depths of the night. These same enemies clearly have no night-vision gear.

Respawning is ‘zone-controlled’. That means if you clear a guard-post of its nasty miscreant staff then move onwards past the zone-boundary it will ‘respawn’ the zone the guardpost is in when you return. And if that happens to be 45 seconds later then the guard post is magically rebuilt and restaffed!

Now I can forgive the leftover bits of console gaming like the overly simple map icons, the save-game blue boxes on the walls, the lack of weapon control like fire-mode-selection, and even the ‘invulnerable whilst healing’ part. What I can’t forgive is how close they got and then stuffed it up worse than FarCry the first.

Quite frankly the game is unplayable for me because I cannot suspend my disbelief of the game for all the above reasons. FarCry 2 is a real could-have-been-champion of a game but they shied away from making it so with the zone-controlled-spawning, the lack of consistency of weapon choice, an overly hostile NPC world and a general feeling of a simulator-cross-arcade game that just doesn’t work.

So close yet so far Cry2!

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