Sometimes game developers can work so hard on nailing all the details they forget to make the game fun.
The people at Ubisoft Montreal obviously spent a great deal of time perfecting every visual inch of “Far Cry 2,” which is available now for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. Ubisoft made Sub-Saharan Africa come to life beautifully. And the depth of the game provides for between 25-100 hours of gameplay to explore every part of the fictional African nation.
But for all the time spent on the game’s environment and on the sandbox gameplay — meaning the whole map can be explored — the developers have given us a technically sound, but sometimes boring game.
The gamer takes over as a chosen mercenary who is sent into a civil war to assassinate the Jackal, a bad dude who is playing both sides of the conflict. The mercenary travels throughout the nation assassinating targets and choosing which missions to undertake. And you drive, a lot.
One of the biggest complaints I have about “Far Cry 2” is the amount of time spent driving or walking from mission to mission. Creating a sandbox game is fine. But most sandbox games are set in urban environments and are in a third-person camera view. It’s not exactly fun trekking through the jungle in an old jeep for five or 10 minutes to get to the next mission. Driving in first-person isn’t very fun either. The movement from location to location becomes very monotonous.
Playing a game shouldn’t feel like a burden, but it often does in “Far Cry 2.”
They forget that gamers don’t want to tread through pointless minutiae. There is something to be said for realism, but I don’t want to fix my car in real life, and I really don’t want to do it in a video game. Playing games is no different than watching movies or television. It’s a form of entertainment, a form of escapism.
The other big complaint I have comes from one of the very first scenes in the game.
In the first act, the player gets malaria. There is no way to prevent this and it stays with you. The character must take medicine when malaria attacks occur, sometimes interrupting the game and story. Other times you must abandon what you’re doing to find more malaria medicine. Adding the sickness serves no real purpose. It almost always slows down the experience.
Guns will also stick or jam during the game. While this could be touted as another achievement in realism, it’s no fun to have a jammed gun in a firefight.
“Far Cry 2” isn’t all bad.
The environment is beautiful, and it really is the showcase feature of the game. It lives and it breathes. Start a fire in a dry part of the country and watch it become an inferno tearing through the area.
But I need more than a meticulously constructed environment. I need a game that is fun to play, and “Far Cry 2” falls short too often.