Far Cry is probably the most disconnected modern franchise. Trying its hand at so many things, only to go back to a proven formula. The first entry was the graphical benchmark of its day. Lush tropical environments rendered in beautiful fashion. Far Cry allowed players to roam around, choosing their approach to each situation.
Same Tricks, New Ways
Stealth was encouraged, utilizing the lush jungle and ocean. All guns blazing was legitimate but gave the ‘advanced’ enemy AI the advantage. For its time, Far Cry was a pretty ambitious release. The spin-offs weren’t exactly huge leaps, but they managed to bridge the gap between PC quality and consoles. Far Cry: Vengeance released on the Wii, but the less said about that the better.
Then came the boldest move the franchise would ever see, Far Cry 2. Progressing every aspect of the original, Far Cry 2 felt like a true sequel. Enemy AI hunted the player, relentlessly zoning locations in clever ways. Weapons carried weight, feeling more realistic and effective. Firearms would jam and degrade over time, one of the many features that gave the experience an extra layer of depth.
Victim of Circumstance
Realism was a core focus of Far Cry 2. Dynamic weather altered player’s ability to see and hear. Wounds required healing and attention, shunning the popular regeneration system of most games. Vehicles would crap out, forcing the player to either run or repair. Sickness plagued the player, forcing them to take medication every 35 real time minutes. Failure to medicate would result in various side effects or even death. Far Cry 2 didn’t care about the player, this is why it worked so well.
It remains as the black sheep of the franchise, which is unfortunate. Ubisoft went on to focus on the concept of open worlds but lowered the challenge in favor of collectibles. All of Far Cry 2’s realistic mechanics had been neutered. The move was understandable, Ubisoft wanted more sales and sacrifices had to be made. As a franchise, Far Cry would never return to the concepts laid out in its second installment.
Ubisoft wasn’t driving Far Cry into the dirt. All of the main games are decent, but they’re safe. Creativity still pops its head up every now and then, mostly in DLC and spin-offs. Blood Dragon was a beautiful love letter to 80s and 90s pop culture. Far Cry Primal is taken away the guns and glitz of the franchise but never felt all that true to the game’s nature. Players still had a security blanket of weapons, skills and no threats beyond physical enemies.
Far Cry 2 was the series at its bravest and arguably best. Refusing to hold the player’s hand, forcing them to learn the game. I suspect that if the game was released today market it would have done far better. Harsh mechanics have become a selling point these days. Perhaps it was simply before its time. Still worth playing to this day, Far Cry 2 is the entry that deserves more credit from the masses.