„Corruption is like sand in this place. It’s everywhere.”
No, that statement is not about our beloved country, especially since we don’t really need any sand for the above remark to fit.
In Africa, however, things are quite different than what goes on around here, mainly because the law is usually enforced with a Kalashnikov in hand. Especially in poor areas, where starvation, disease and unemployment are part of the daily routine.
As a mercenary, you’re sent to one such godforsaken country to hunt down an arms dealer only known as The Jackal. This guy has built quite the reputation during a few conflicts in Africa, constantly dodging authorities and delivering guns to anyone who’s willing to pay the price. At this point, after the government’s fall, two factions – The Alliance for Popular Resistance (APR) and the United Front for Liberation and Labor (UFLL) – wage a war for supremacy on each other without any care for the civilians caught in the crossfire.
You start out your career by choosing one character out of the nine available, each with their own backstory. After which, in a way reminiscent of Half-Life, the cab driver who picked you up from the „airport” lightheartedly lets you that only money and connections can get you out of the country at this point.
Since no single trouble comes on its own, before you get to your destination, malaria gently kisses you on the forehead, whispering a generous „Welcome to Hell”, just before your health drops as abruptly as a rock in a pond. Reaching the hotel, more dead than alive, The Jackal pays you a visit to find out why you’re here, but lets you live for some obscure reason. And then, the madness starts.
Aside from the name and slightly similar gameplay, Far Cry 2 has nothing in common with its predecessor. The tropical islands, subterranean labs and gene fiddling are long gone. You’ve got 50 square miles of raw african land, split into two districts (Leboa-Sako and Bowa-Seko), where you have to fill out various missions for the two opposing factions to find the Jackal and then get to see him die of pneumonia… he’s warm, your bullet’s cold, it happens. At least, that what you’ll think in the beginning, because things will go down a completely different path along the way.
After finishing the introductory section, you’re free to do as you please. Obviously, the handiest option is to start doing out missions for one of the two factions. Both districts have UFLL and APR HQs, the area in which they’re placed being the only one in which a truce is in effect. And as none of them will openly declare war first, you’re the perfect solution for sabotaging their enemies. Payouts are handed when taking up missions, in diamonds – the only currency that still holds some value.
Once you receive a mission, the first thing you have to do is to realise how to get to your objective, using your GPS and map (you’ve got two levels of zoom to choose from). You can drive all the way, grab a boat and sail down rivers and then walk the rest of the way or go for the bus, but the latter have fixed routes and are recommended only for very long distances, usually from one corner of the district to another. From there, you can use the eternally-stationed vehicle to drive to your objective. If you pay attention and know what to look for, you’ll also find gliders, but those are rather meant for eagle-eye sightseeing, because it only takes a couple of bullets to get you „down to earth”.
Combining these vehicles is usually a better choice than just driving down known roads to your destination, because of the check points. Even if you fill out missions for UFLL and APR, their soldiers won’t treat you as an ally, so from the moment you leave the truce zone, you’ll have to consider that there’s a huge bulls eye on your back.
Fortunately for you, Far Cry 2 uses a hybrid health system, familiar to those of you who’ve played The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Thus, your health bar is split into 5 slots which regenerate if they’re not completely drained. After „losing” a slot, you have to use a healing syringe to get back up to 100%. However, take not that one syringe is enough to fill up all the slots.
An interesting elements is that when your last health slot starts emptying, you have to hide quickly and press your Heal key to start a specific healing animation to get yourself back up. These are quite well made and vary from taking a bullet out of your own hand with a pair of pliers or your teeth to straightening out twisted fingers. But be careful, because the animation lasts a few seconds that render you totally vulnerable, so you have to hide well before triggering it.
I did mention that not activating the healing sequence in time gets you killed because of the bleeding, right?