An immersive world, where atmosphere can't win over gameplay anymore: Ubisoft made the same mistake too many times.

User Rating: 7.5 | Far Cry 2 PC
From it's very announce, Far Cry 2 was classified as the all mighty response to Crysis from Ubisoft. The hype was enormous: Photorealism, physical, as well as chemical effects(Fire spreading onto trees, guided by the wind), healing animations, RPG elements, hardcore, realistic AI and once again, total destructibility. Ok, the result turned out weird. Not that Ubi failed, it's just they delivered everything they hyped up, but forgot about the rest of the game.

The story is very simple. You take the role of one of the mercenaries who were sent to an unknown region to Africa, to end a confrontation between the APR and the UFLL. To do so, you must eliminate a weapons dealer named "Jackal", who is dumb enough to supply both sides, thereby fueling up the war. It's that simple, and apart from a minor plot twist at the end, quite linear.

Now, about the innovations. At it's basics, Far Cry 2 handles like any other shooter, it's all in the details. You can carry 4 kinds of weapons, well, one of them is always a machete, unchangeable. The rest are obvious pistols, rifles and special weapons, with the latter including the flamethrower, the game's personal little miracle. We'll talk about that one later. You can buy and upgrade these weapons(For a price; There are random diamonds scattered across the map, the only real currency in the game) at special shops, and new kinds of toys can be unlocked by completing side missions given by the shop's weapons dealer.

The large(50 square kilometers), free map is, in fact, a piece of Africa filled with corridor-styled roads and rare open areas. Yes, that's true. Once you get a mission from either the UFLL or the APR, you find a vehicle, and start out towards your target. Corridors, canyons, corridors, jungles.Every such trip is quite the journey, but hopefully the vehicles(Both cars and boats) handle well, but once you take out ten absolutely same checkpoints, unlock ten safe houses with no difference, turn back and confront the re-spawned foes again, you understand that the Ubisoft Syndrome is at it's largest, you are looking at a first-person Assassin's Creed in Africa. Of course, repopulating is a critical element in sandbox games, but it would definitely not hurt to have more than one model for a safe house.

The AI is good, but mostly over-aggressive and sometimes unrealistic. Enemies tend to spot you sneaking through knee-high grass, and if you attempt an escape they will heroically board their trucks and answer with a pursuit. These chases are quite dynamic, you can't change your view in the car, so you have to constantly look back and at the same time try to control the steel stallion hampering across the Savannah.

A real pain in the butt can be Malaria, the infamous illness which by Ubisoft's crazy idea happens to be a part of the gameplay mechanic. See, our hero can sometimes feel a little dizzy, and if he doesn't take pills(They can run out) You will faint and must rely on a buddy, or a no less comfortable checkpoint for a second attempt. The healing itself, from Malaria or bullet holes, is nicely animated and furthers the immersion into the game.

The physics are good, with most of the shacks blowing up and catching fire, and of course fire was the main subject of hype for this game. Yes, it spreads. and yes, the flamer is a universal weapon in the game. When all else fails, even a well-aimed molotov cocktail throw can result in a complete burndown of an enemy base. The wind plays a critical role in this situation, instead of billowing in the direction of the checkpoint, it can suddenly change it's course, blacken whole fields and blow up your transports. It's a very well-balanced advantage.

For the bright side, Far Cry 2 looks gorgeous. Sure, it's definitely not Crysis, and the multiplatform Dunia has her limits, but the game is optimized flawlessly and produces quite the photorealism we were promised. Sometimes, repetitive gameplay aside, when you find yourself in the middle of a clearing, with gazelles galloping by and sun rays cutting down through the trees, you feel, for a fraction of a second, the very atmosphere of Africa that Ubisoft has worked so hard to replicate.

Which also goes to the sounds. We all know that the developers' team have travelled to Africa mostly to capture the sounds. Well, they did their jobs. The ambient and background audio is amazing, and the rare, unneeded music is cleverly used. The voice acting is boring, but bearable.

Let's say it like this: In the case of Assassin's Creed or Prince of Persia, atmosphere, with much effort, won over gameplay. Here, it's just impossible. The game has an unnatural RPG-ish meditative feel to it, which makes it a game for the few. Impressive sceneries and physics do little to counter the almighty repetitiveness of everything in the game. Ubisoft, like always, created a unique, immersive world, which has ten minutes of gameplay stretched all over it. Sadly, Crysis comes up the winner in almost all aspects. Where there's repetitiveness, there's the Nanosuit to heat things up. Betting on atmosphere for the third time was a bad move, Ubisoft, it's time to change the tactics. You get an additional 0.5 points from me, for a colossal effort put in the game. Pros and cons aside, in vain or not, this kind of labor should be respected and appreciated.