Far Cry 2: Ubisoft’s Last Big Triple A Risk

editorials by Sean Halliday

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

Bold Steps

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.

 

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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.

Article Discussion

    • F.E.A.R aged visually, but god damn does the combat play silky smooth. Still the best melee combat in a shooter to date. I loved Fear 2 as well, Fear 3 was just okay…if not a tad gimmicky

  • The problem was that it wasn’t far cry. It was a good game in its own right and it certainly led the way for far cry 3 but the guns deteriorating made it tougher if you wanted to play it casually. Far cry 3 took the lush environment of far cry and the best bits of far cry 2. ubisoft have taken far cry into a good direction. and probably better than crytek would of considering where crysis end up.

    • depends where you stand. Fary Cry 3 is decent, but opened up the ‘Ubisoft way’ e.g. by making everything interesting trapped behind RPG-like talent trees which required grinding to fully unlock, which then justifies all the side ‘content’ (i use the term loosely) of picking flowers and doing ‘Kill X amount of animals’ like a starter MMORPG quest. They’ve repeated the game twice over since, and even had it bleed over into their other franchises. Blood Dragon was a awesome in-between though, i’d love more of that. Far Cry 2 just felt like an ambitious effort, rather than the safe option, which Ubisoft soon returned too. I understand why, they gotta sell well afterall!

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