First off, holy crap. I’m sorry this took so long to get posted, but playing this game for such a long time left me with a lot to say and it was murderously hard to pick what to put in and what to leave out of the review. Once again, we find that a long review is way easier than a short one. I promise to try and trim things down next time. For the meantime, however, I give you:
Far Cry 2
Source: Steam Store
Paid: $10 for the retail game including “Fortunes” DLC pack
Play time: 41.8 hours
The vast majority of first-person shooters are roller coasters: they whisk you through a set path, popping up targets and obstacles as you go to keep things exciting and surprising. Far Cry 2 wants to be the entire amusement park, letting you run from ride to ride as you choose.
The result is, to put it mildly, an immense game. I spent almost 42 hours playing it, and that was after I quit playing all the side missions to completion at around the 50% mark and started barreling through the story as fast as I could. The world is huge by first-person standards, fantastically detailed with sun-dappled savannahs and glittering jungle waterfalls. There are newly-abandoned shacks and lost weapons caches tucked away in every corner of the map. You stumble across crashed escape planes and the aftermaths of gunfights over diamonds. But then you see a car patrolling 50 yards down a road, turning around, and then patrolling the same 50 yards in the other direction. Forever.
Far Cry’s story is sketched in broad strokes: you are a member of the mercenary and war profiteer community that seems to have descended en masse on the war-torn country of Nowhere-In-Particular, Africa. A client or clients never-to-be-named have tasked you with killing the Jackal, an arms dealer flooding the country with cheap guns that he sells indiscriminately to everyone with a trigger finger. The Jackal himself, a gravel-voiced Nietzsche fan, shows up almost immediately to taunt you for succumbing just as immediately to malaria; he (naturally) gives you your first gun, then pulls a Gandalf, inexplicably disappearing in the middle of the opening gunfight of a war between the two factions who have been arming to fight over the country. While the Jackal’s motivation is more complex than mere profit, his philosophy, articulated in a series of collectible interview recordings and a few more chance meetings, is also more ethically (and logically) murky than just making money off of war.
Your fellow mercs don’t fare much better. You select one of nine characters at the start of the story. All of them play exactly the same; the only effect of the choice is that the unchosen characters can be met in the game, waiting to be rescued by the player and then putzing around in Mike’s Bar waiting for a chance to hand out missions. One buddy asks you to murder a pair of drug dealers setting up shop in the boondocks of the bush. Another has VD and wants you to gun down the clinician who sold him an unsatisfactory ointment. Yet another suggests stealing an impossibly toxic defoliant, while yet another suggests actually spraying the countryside with it so that it will be easier to kill everyone.
If you demand a story with morality that ranges between gray and black, Far Cry 2 ought to be right up your alley. Games don’t come any grittier. The awful part is that you aren’t any better than the other assholes trying to make a buck in the war.