farcry2Far Cry 2 is a gritty, more realistic game than your average FPS. There’s a lot of strategy involved if you choose to not just run ‘n gun. The plot is straight out of Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” as you play a mercenary caught in a battle between 2 factions in Africa and find yourself doing missions for both sides, playing them against each other.

This game is absolutely amazing. There are so many ways to approach taking out enemies. One of my favorites is to hurl a Molotov cocktail at a hut, which ignites everything around it, causing a massive brush fire. As everything that can burn does (including trees), I simply wait for the bad guys to come flying out of the hut in a panic and pick them off with my sniper rifle.

A couple of other cool things happened as I played today. The AI seems to get better and harder as you advance through the game. I raided an outpost today and drove off the guards. One of them ran off into some rocks about 50 yards from the outpost. I was walking through the camp, looking for goodies to loot when I heard the hiding guard start taking shots at me from a distance. I turned to run and saw a propane tank out of the corner of my eye. As I ran by it – WHOOSH! – it blew up and everything around it (including me) caught fire. The guard had aimed for the tank and created a massive explosion. That is some damned good AI.

Later I had a mission to take out a truck convoy. I did this, hitting it and the surrounding cars with my rocket launcher. Suddenly 2 jeep patrols showed up and started firing at me. I took out 3 of the 4 guys in quick order and was lining up a shot for the last one when he turned and ran, hiding behind one of the burning cars. What did he do then? He shot off a flare gun, high into the sky. Suddenly 4 or 5 more jeep patrols came roaring in and I was under an immense amount of fire. He called for backup! I had to high tail it out of the area, running for my life. Incredible. That was the first time I had seen the enemy do that and it was such a rush.

The game features tons of weapons that you unlock by doing favors for the weapon shops owners. There is a huge variety of real weapons, from the aforementioned flare guns to assault rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, sub machine guns and even a flamethrower. They all function realistically and in a neat touch, wear out over time. You can pick up weapons from fallen enemies too, but you can bet they are very used and are subject to ammo jams at the worst possible times. If you use them too long they may even blow up in your hand.

There’s also a great variety of vehicles you can commandeer. A good number of real Jeep vehicles are in the game, as well as generic cars and dune buggies (which are really fun to drive). There are also boats you can take as you head up river to your next destination. Make no mistake; this game mixes the best elements of FPS games and sandbox games such as the Grand Theft Auto series.

I have a few complaints about the game: you have to deal with malaria, which can be a royal pain in the neck if you run low on medicine. It’s manageable, but it seems gimicky. Also you cannot save your game anytime, anywhere. You must either complete a mission or travel to different places throughout the map to find a save point. And there is a LOT of traveling. The map is huge (which is a good thing) but getting from one place to another can take quite a while and you are constantly running into checkpoints that you must fight your way through. In addition, random patrol vehicles are also on the prowl, and if they spot you they start shooting. So in the midst of traveling to a place to do a mission, you could find yourself getting in 4 or 5 fire fights before you even arrive to your destination. You’ll probably be a little low on ammo and the mission battles are pretty intense in most cases.

Despite my gripes, I am really enjoying Far Cry 2. The single player campaign alone can take up to 70 hours to complete if you are thorough. That’s a lot of bang for the buck. This game is getting criminally overlooked because of all of the A++ titles being released this fall in time for the holidays. But if you want a realistic FPS that offers hours and hours of gameplay and sublime strategy, you simply must check out Far Cry 2.