Kenya Dig It?

Far Cry 2

It’s interesting to me that a substantial number of commentaries on Far Cry 2 are personal accounts instead of generalised criticisms or appraisals. I killed this zebra and I set this shack on fire and my buddy got killed; even the most articulate writers that I follow break down into “and-then” accounts of mass murder, sporadic flame propagation or impromptu moments of erratic brilliance.

It’s most intriguing because Ubisoft’s FPS sequel is hardly the most dynamic or unpredictable game conceived; the physics system keeps itself in check, enemies move in strict patterns and the artificial intelligence leaves a lot to be desired. It’s also obvious that players became very much attached to the game’s buddies and chat incessantly about them, even though they eerily perform push-ups as you sleep , run in front of your car and dream up ambushes that are doomed to failure.

But as much as I can find fault in the game, I was infatuated with Far Cry 2 and am completely guilty of boring friends with my tales of hunting for malaria meds or risking my life to save a badly injured Flora Guillen. It just snags people that way, it grabs hold of players and doesn’t let go. But why does Far Cry 2 elicit such responses?

I think gamers resonate with dynamism and unpredictability far more than canned explosions and unavoidable deaths; through years of play we’ve become experts at sniffing out set pieces, trigger points and spawn locations. Gamers like to construct their own narratives and weave their own stories from a series of actions; it’s one of the reasons we will choose a game over a movie or a novel.

Far Cry 2

But for me, it was the way the game made me feel; the immersion of the world and the captivation of my actions made me really feel like a ruthless mercenary, drafted in to a hotbed of war to assassinate the Jackal and get the hell out. I would wake up in my shack on a foggy morning, take a boat down the lake, do some tasks and get back to bed before nightfall; a daily routine on my African vacation.

Far Cry 2 apparently has a story and the factions are apparently at war or in some uneasy truce; I just took enough missions to get diamonds; got enough diamonds to buy better equipment; got enough equipment to survive. While I was there I did some sightseeing, killed about half a million people and started my fair share of bush fires but always with the end goal of completing enough missions to get the hell off this desert, jungle and savannah collage.

For the thirty-odd hours you’re in Africa, you have to play smart and you have to be aware. Playing on a console meant that my own mortality hung over my head the entire time; not quick enough on the syrettes meant waking up in my bed earlier that morning, sweating profusely thanks to a vivid dream of squealing-mortar cannons. The combination of harsh difficulty and strong punishments, not to mention impending darkness and the constant threat of malaria, gave Far Cry 2 a special kind of tension.

Far Cry 2

I clearly remember the moment Far Cry 2 ended; I took off my headphones and shut down my Xbox 360 to the strongest sense of relief; a massive tension had been lifted from my mind. I didn’t need to be wary of guard posts anymore or listen for mortar strikes, I didn’t need to conserve ammo and use grenades judiciously – I was free. Relief, on top of satisfaction.

It’s a game that has liberal servings of faults and problems, and the game’s patterns and inner-workings become apparent before the credits roll but I’ve never played a game that’s made me feel so involved in the world, so snugly squeezed in the protagonist’s size 10s. I sure hope the industry wasn’t perturbed by Far Cry 2’s polarising reviews and staunch detractors and will attempt such an amazing experience again.







5 responses to “Kenya Dig It?”

  1. John.B avatar

    It’s in my collection but I had difficulties getting into it, not the most accessible of games about.

  2. Celeste avatar

    I haven’t played Far Cry 2, but it sounds quite immersive from your description. I don’t like FPSs that have only one dimension to them, and I was concerned this might be the case with FC2.

  3. Anthony avatar

    I tend to be a late purchaser of FPSs with a few notable exceptions. A colleague at work has been waxing lyrical about how he believes this is the best looking game on the Xbox 360. I still haven’t been moved to purchase yet but my inertia is gradually being defeated.

  4. Lorna avatar

    I enjoy games that allow scope for your own imagination to play…as with Oblivion and Fallout, you find yourself telling tales of this and that, how you defeated this person by this trick or explored here etc. The games that allow you to carve out a deeply personal experience that you then recount as if it were a real life event or memory are pretty special and here’s to more of them!

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