Remember Jack Carver? That lovable rogue gallivanting around a tropical island paradise in a loud multi-coloured shirt, so loud in fact that enemies could see him through the tropical fauna no matter how far away they were? Well Jack isn't back in Far Cry 2, or Far Cry 4 chronologically in the series as yet. Instead you choose from a list of various identikit mercenary types, your choice making no drastic change upon the gameplay you experience.
The "plot" of Far Cry 2, if it can be called that, is to find and kill an arms dealer known as "The Jackal". Why? Well that's never really explained, neither is the fact that you're playing as a nameless mercenary trying to rid a nameless country of an elusive meglomaniac. Perhaps the situation would have been more suited to a platoon of American troops (satire).
Within the first five minutes of gameplay you assertain that your identikit mercenary type (we'll call him "Jim" for ease of writing) is suffering from maleria, and has to pop pills in order to subdue his constant symtoms. As if that wasn't bad enough, Jim also finds himself bed-ridden after a fire fight in a shanty town and is nursed back to health by The Jackal himself. I'm no expert, but surely Jim wasn't a great choice for this mission.
Once back in reasonably good health Jim is thrust out into the sizable game world in order to begin his mission to track down The Jackal. Unlike some sandbox games, the entire world is immediatly open to your exploration. This acts as a double edged sword, on the one hand Jim has an entire world open to him, presenting near limitless potential for hijinks and shananigans. On the other hand however, it is a REALLY big world, and it is very very easy to get lost and confused while you strive towards the next objective.
One of the most important things about sandbox games, is that they are nearly completely non-linear. Far Cry fails on that part. In the main town of the first area (more on that soon) there are two warring factions, giving Jim the option to choose missions from each. For some bizarre reason however, these missions all play out rather linearly. You cannot, for example choose what side to visit next, after several adventures for one side they close up shop forcing you to their rival. These missions are all very samey as well, requiring Jim to go to a location and blow something up. During these missions you will also recieve phonecalls from one of Jim's friends. These are NPC characters that are met during your adventures through the african wilderness. Even with the inclusion of buddys the missions are still very linear, requring Jim to complete a slightly different objective before having to rush to a different location in order to save your buddy, who have got themselves into a spot of bother. These are fine for a little while, but after 20 or so missions they get very very tedious.
As if this wasn't enough, there are also additional missions for weapon dealers, diamond smugglers and medicine holders. All of these missions are the same in their own right, although the weapon dealer's are probably the worst. Jim drives to a location and attempts to blow up a convoy of trucks while they drive aimlessly round and round in circles. These missions are alright after the first few go by, but after five or six they become very tiresome.
The ultimate objective of Far Cry 2, to kill The Jackal, is never clear enough throughout the time spent in Africa. After around 10 hours of endless missions for the various factions Jim is thrown into an entirely different open world environment. This may sound like a breath of fresh air but it actually acts more like a deterrent. After spending ages bonding and learning the world, everything is suddenly destroyed and undone. At this point Jim is forced to do the same tedious mission structures over and over again, before finally getting his hand on The Jackal.
Several games have had this problem over recent years, the most notable of which being Assasin's Creed. AC however always had a clear objective, and always made it clear to the player that regularly changes in scenery where going to occur.
Despite the problems with structure in FC2, there are plenty of positives. For a start the game is stunning on a high end system, prompting constant pausing just to admire the epic scenery. There are some truly jaw dropping moments in FC2, no matter what system the game is running in. Although the high quality shadow mechanics added by higher end PCs give an awful lot to the overall look.
The sound design in FC2 is choppy and occasionally out of context, but is mainly positive. Every now and again the tribal African chanting will break out into a higher tempo while Jim isn't in combat, causing the player to look around panically to make sure there are no enemies nearby. The weapons all sound heavy and realistic and the explosions really go of with a bang.
Overall FC2 is not a bad experience at all, although it is not without its problems. It suffers heavily from tedious missions and a lack of mixture, and can only be played in short bursts as a result. However, any gamer who can look past these mistakes and see FC2 simply as a stunning, beautiful piece of gaming will find plenty to love. Even if it does suffer from OCD.