I’ve been shot, I’m slowly bleeding to death, I manage to esape around the corner from the hail of gunfire, but I’m not getting better, in fact I may well be getting worse.
“Press H” our host whispers in my ear.
I do so, and my hands reach down, jab a knife into my own knee and lever out a bullet. I recoil in shock.
Digging bullets out of your limbs is the first thing anyone hears about Far Cry 2, but dispite knowing about it already I still flinched to see it in action. There are actually a whole variety of first aid animations, from a simple bandage or self administered injection to minor surgery with pliers, or the classic gunpowder self cauterisation.
This is actually central to the philosophy of Far Cry 2, it’s a game which refuses to hold you by the hand, every step of the way is interactive, you have to heal yourself, repair damaged weapons and navigate with the aid of maps and a GPS. It’s what Grand Theft Auto IV seemed to be trying to move towards, but here it is far more dominant to the game’s philosophy. The question on everyone’s lips is, will it work? Done right this could result in a brilliantly immerssive game, but done wrong will result in a massive barrier to enjoyment.
It a question to which I can’t give you an answer. We only had a short time with Far Cry 2, nothing like the time required to judge a massive open world shooter with a huge, immersive story, that’s why this isn’t a real preview, it’s ‘first impressions’. As so much of the longevity, character and story of the game is a closed book to us.
What we did get to try was the gameplay itself, we started off in the town of Pala, a cease fire zone, safe from enemy attack. That is unless you start firing, in which case shit goes down fast, and you’re dragged to safety by a mercenary comrade. Either way you end up a few yards away, and inevitably, we immediately grabbed a jeep and went exploring.
We may have had a specific objective or mission at this point, but we never noticed, we instead started exploring. Despite not understanding the game’s navigation system very much, we found it easy to use signposts and the GPS to find interesting locations, I went to the safe sounding post office, while Ludo tried the less respectable cock fights. We were, however both hampered by roving bands of militia in jeeps of their own, who pick fights with you for no discernible reason, maybe Africa is just like that.
Not that we minded, as combat is superb fun, the flamethrower in particular literally has you cackling with glee at the destruction it can cause, especially with canny use of the surrounding underbrush. There’s even a lovely little moment as you unjam it where your character burns his hand on the side, such is the attention to detail in the game.
When you get out of the centre things become quieter, you can walk for quite a way without seeing a soul and you have the time to fully appreciate the simply superb landscapes on offer. The jungles and savannas are truly spectacular, and you suddenly realise that this game had to be set in Africa, because it’s a landscape that just begs to be played in.
Far Cry 2 could be amazing, it could fall on it’s arse, but either way it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Dante, removing a kidney with a spoon, bidding you farewell.