Friday, January 20, 2012

Into the Wild

Given that Crytek is making games I find interesting, I decided to give Far Cry II a whirl, a game which uses some of the developer's code but was finally made by Ubisoft, in anticipation of the release of the third part the coming month. As the reader may recall, the original Far Cry was banned in Germany. Yet unlike say, the reality-starved CoD:MW series, here we find actual social commentary, as there are small hints of racial tension in the land, like a hanged black man, all of which could easily represent the outskirts of Johannesburg.

I'm happy to report that one gets to choose a character at the beginning, so this is not your regular FPS. Furthermore, FC2 hopes you will plan your moves strategically, hence there's nothing mindless about it; guerrilla warfare was never stupid. Add to this the free-roaming, which makes it feel like a first person GTA; the difference being FC2 was concocted by developers whose games aren't so overly derivative.

The Heart of Darkness as well as The Day of the Jackal have been mentioned as inspiration for perhaps the most expansive sandbox game of them all, as there are no levels, only checkpoints. Yet the experience reminds me loosely of the Splinter Cell series, as the game certainly makes you watch your step. Just use your monocular; simple, wasn't it? Gladly, there is quite an international cast of characters, in fact, the "Soviet enemy" scenario is somewhat inverted here, as you can play as a mercenary from that land.

There is a randomized "buddy system" wherein one character becomes your main assistance in the game and the other your secondary one. These are the nine playable characters plus three other ones. This is good, because there are gangs looking for trouble everywhere. The NPCs provide missions and establish the plot points.

Ultimately, Far Cry 2 is an evolution of the concepts from the first game; whereas the original took place in an island in Micronesia, the sequel brings the player to the perhaps harsher terrain of South Africa. Gone are the fantasy aspects, now the moral ambiguity of life is reflected in a free-for-all world of mercenaries, in a land with good people, living in a torn country. Considering this trend, it's entirely possible that the third entry will take place in India and you will play a poor man fighting human trafficking.