I was reading an article on the theory of Far Cry 2’s ‘slow burn’, which is the idea that it takes a while to get going, but once it does it’s rather brilliant. While this may be true of some people, I found it was rather gripping throughout, from the rather shockingly subdued taxi ride into the country to the various open missions you start out doing. Yes it doesn’t lead you by the hand, but since I always play my games off the beaten path, this really didn’t trouble me. I sought out the Silenced MP5, and went off to do my thing.
There was one point in that article, however, that was very true. Far Cry 2 provides you a platform to play, rather than an experience. It gives you all the tools, but doesn’t tell you how to use them. this, coupled with an incredibly visceral and beautiful world gives you the oppurtunity for some truly memorable, and unscripted, events within the game world. What follows are perhaps my favourite five so far. I’m going to order them, but it’s quite likely that tomorrow I’ll look back and think I prefer number 4 to number 1, or whatever. So just take them as they are. Hell, I’ll just alphabetise them.
A) Accidental Fires
This has happened far too many times to count as just one event, but each time is more hilarious than the last. The Far Cry 2 fire mechanics are utterly astonishing, with the fire being subject to wind, fuel and location. Watching the wayward grenade set an entire field on fire is both wonderfully beautiful and horribly guilty. You just meant to send some Africans to an early grave and instead you’re destroying nature. Shocking.
B) Poor Quarbani
My first buddy was Quarbani. I could never remember his actual nationality, so I just imagined he was a ghurka, because he was a bit nuts. But he was actually a very well written character; he was principled to a fault, and while a little cold, you could see he appreciated the work we did together. I was always happy to take ten minutes out of my drive to a mission to see what he wanted, so it came as a huge shock when we were trying to take some gold from the UFLL and it all went tits up.
I’m not exactly sure what happened, maybe it was an errant grenade, maybe just one too many bullets flying his way, but Quarbani went down. He popped a flare, letting me know what had happened. With a quick check of my syrette (Far Cry 2’s health kits, essentially) count I saw I had two left, more than enough. So I want over, not really worried, and plunged it into his shoulder. His hand gestured to me; he needed more. I started to look a bit panicked, so I plunged my second, and last, syrette into his shoulder. Again, the gesture. He needed more.
This was perhaps my most emotional moment in a game so far. Here was this man, who I’d been playing along side for about 10 hours, and he was about to die because I hadn’t thought to scout for extra medicine before coming to save him. Feeling awful, I pulled out my pistol. He grabbed the barrel and shoved it under his chin, his eyes focused on me. As I pulled the trigger the camera looked away, and when I looked back he was gone.
C) Muddy Waters
Even though it is Africa, there is plenty of water in Far Cry 2. It’s not at all clean, and as soon as you slip below the surface you can barely see anything but your hands. So when I drove my car (accidentally) off a cliff and into a lake, I was a little worried. The car barrel rolled in mid air, so I had no idea which was the surface was. I managed to make it out of the car alright, but after a few seconds of frantic swimming about I realised I didn’t know how to get more air.
After a moment of contemplation, I slowly moved my view around, trying to ignore the flashes of red as my lungs began to burn. Suddenly I saw a faint circle of light; the sun. A quick swim to the surface and I managed to suck in a big lungful of air. While I wasn’t hurt by the encounter, it did leave me a little rattled.
D) The Wild Card
I’m playing as Josip, a 48 year old Albanian bloke, because old guys are awesome, and he also has an incredible moustache. It also makes it that much cooler when I wandering around town and I hear the following exchange.
“Karl.. did you hear there were pirhanas in the water in some regions?”
“It’s not the pirhanas you need to worry about. It’s that nutter who’s been running around butchering our men.”
“What? Who’s that?” I slowly walk over to them, and one turns to see me.
“Shit, don’t look now.”
“What? Is that-… oh, shit.”
Yes, that was in the game. Yes, I not feel like a complete badass.
E) Die Harder
Far Cry 2 is nothing if not immersive. When you get low on health, you have to perform ‘battlefield surgery’. That means pulling or fixing whatever is wrong with you at the time. Usually it’s grabbing a pair of pliers and pulling a bullet out of your arm/leg/ankle, but sometimes it’s a little bit more brutal than that. While I’d gotten used to the whole bullet thing, seeing my character pulle a nail that was lodged between two fingers was pretty gruesome.
But not nearly as much as when I got shot in my forearm. He held it up to see, and the bullet had compressed on his bone, leaving it lodged in the surface of his arm. I expected to see the pliers, but instead he just moved his arm just under the screen and after a few moments of gut-wrenching sounds he brought the arm back into view, bullet removed. Then the bullet was spat away from the screen. Yes, that’s right, he removed it with his teeth. I think that trumps any action hero, ever.
So those are my favourite five things at the moment, but it’s a pretty fluid list. It’s sure to change soon.. in fact I better get back to the game.