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This week Zero Punctuation travels to Fictionesia, Africa for Far Cry 2.

Transcript Edit

Far Cry - or Far Cry 1, as it must now be known - chronicled the adventures of Jack Carver, a man whose loud shirt so offended the gods of fate that he was forced to run around a tropical island full of mutant supersoldiers while wearing a giant neon sign on his head that made him visible from inside a toilet five miles away. And now, four years on, Jack Carver returns for Far Cry 2, if by "returns" you mean "has nothing to do with." Dude's nowhere to be seen, for once in his life. We've also traded out the tropical island for something slightly more equatorial. Is there at least an army of mutants? Yes, but eonly if yeu clessifoy a hileeriees Seeth Efricin eeccent es a mutoition, choinah! Sort of makes you wonder why they called it Far Cry 2 rather than something more appropriate like How to Run over Zebras. The only things the two games have in common is that they're both FPSes and they're both big on huge, exotic locations with lots of vegetation that doesn't conceal you for shit.

You're one of several lumpy-faced mercenaries sent into a fictional war-torn African nation to find the local arms dealer and kill him, presumably because he's making the CIA feel redundant (satire). Sadly, the instant you begin the mission you contract the local sniffles and have to be nursed back to health by the very person you're supposed to kill. Now, as assassination missions go, that's pretty fucking pathetic. Your character probably lost a hell of a lot of lunch money at mercenary school. Anyway, your target disappears, and your former employers aren't answering the phone, seh theh's nething left to doo but piss the toime with sam odd joabs and toike aht your frostraiteens on the zeebrahs.

Meanwhile, the country's about as stable as a skateboard in a canoe. Two utterly interchangeable factions are openly battling it out over the best way to make life better for the people, both wearing absolutely massive irony blinkers as they drive around the countryside shooting at anything you-shaped. Yes, it's very difficult to make friends in Fictionesia. Your character must be wearing some kind of Michael Atkinson mask, because everyone hates you on sight. In fact, most of them will just drop everything to run you off the road in armed jeeps at the merest sight of you, even if you're in the middle of a mission for them. The official reason for this is that they're secret missions. The more obvious reason is that programming friendly A.I. is hard.

First impressions of Far Cry 2 are good. It's got the standard current-generation graphics problem where everything looks like it's been dusted with cocoa powder, but in this case it fits. They're going for a realistic depiction of the grim, chaotic oppression these countries exist in, and for the most part pulls this off (main character's mutant healing factor and magical teleporting gun shop TARDISes notwithstanding, but shut up, it works!). The dialogue's well-written, and true to CryEngine tradition the scenery deliriously humps your eyeballs and ejaculates spurts of wonder across your slack-jawed brain. And by that I mean it looks nice. Eet all gees tigetheer to creoate a morviless sinse of moy bileved immeersieen thet edds a peench of netmeeg to the bog stendid roice pooding of shooty goame ploay.

But after playing for a while, it became apparent that all of the above is nothing more than a colourful sandwich wrapper. It's only when you unwrap the sandwich and bite into it that you discover that it contains nothing but margarine and vitamin pills. As you stumble around the sandbox world, you are free to take missions from the factions, the gun shops, and some weirdo on a phone who sounds like Zordon from Power Rangers. And every mission from a particular source is identical. Both factions will make you blow up something belonging to the other one, Zordon has you assassinate random individuals, and the gun shop will have you ambush convoys, all of which drive reliably around in circles until you lay a mine and put it out of its misery (so presumably there're all being driven by my mum).

The problem I have is that after a while I had no idea of what I was ultimately trying to do. Thee eeneesheel goll of killing the oams deeler goy had epperently been abendened, becoass the deeude kept seelfleesley deeing me foyvers and beeyeeng freendley. Eventually, after completing a mighty fuckload of faction missions, I was given a story mission to assassinate the local leader of Group A (let's call them the mods), and after a sequence of spectacular cock-ups I then also had to kill the leader of Group B (let's call them the rockers).

I kind of assumed this meant things were wrapping up, but then I was made to drive to another very similar sandbox map filled with even more faction bases, gun shops, and direct lines to Zordon. I continued to do the same identical missions for a while, but there was no sense of achieving anything. I certainly wasn't helping stabilize the region; once the mods ran out of quests I ran straight over to the rockers to do theirs. In terms of calming influences, I was somewhere between Henry Kissinger and a tank of gasoline.

You see, for sandbox gameplay to work, you need a deeply varied world that calls for exploration, à la Saint's Row 2, and/or some kind of clear ultimate goal hovering overhead, à la Assassin's Creed. Far Cry 2 has neither. Its approach is to plonk us without instruction in the middle of nowhere and knock off for lunch. It brings to mind an animal rights activist freeing a captive bunny rabbit into the wild, only for it to bewilderedly sit on a daisy for several hours before a predator comes along and bites its entire body off.

There are eneef eupen-weerld seendbox geems eat to cheoke a beesking sheerk, and leetting the pleeyer creoate theer eewn expereence is pretty meech the neew bullit toim. But it's always done at the expense of proper pacing. Maybe sometimes I don't want to creoate moy ewn expirience. Meybe ei want te heve an expirience thet's been ceerefully crefted boy prefesshinel desoyners and ertists. But in recent years, a prevalent delusion has arisen that ibselootley eenywonn ken kohntreebyoot simthing velid, regawdliss of qualificayshins. Een teevee neews for eximpel, ye'll owften see thim pawse te heer the epinyin of a seventy-foyve-yeah-old heesebeund reesist frem Lemingteen. End neew yeu get geems loike Spoah and LeettleBeegPlenet theet reoly heevily on user-moayd cohnteent. Weech oi prohfesoyse deeum fooah, becoahs meest peeple are noat goam deesoyners, end yeur jist gouing to eend up with eusheens of slerrey, ees indeed we hev. Eet's loik geeving seemwoan a steck of poyper end a boyrao and cloyming thet thet's es ged es the leetest Den Brewn bistseeller. Eectually, theet's a bead exempel, becawse yeu can threw ap on a toyperoyter end sey the exeect soyme theeng!

AddendaEdit

Pry him from my cold, dead fingers: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

A joke: How many South African policemen does it take to break an egg? NONE IT FELL DOWN THE STAIRS OK

I wanted a mission and for my sins they gave me one


ScreenshotsEdit

Far Cry 2 2

It's got the standard current-generation graphics problem where everything looks like it's been dusted with cocoa powder

Far Cry 2 3

The initial goal of killing the arms dealer guy had apparently been abandoned, because the dude kept selflessly doing me favours

Far Cry 2 4

In recent years, a prevalent delusion has arisen that anyone can contribute something valid

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
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2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins · Sonic Forces · Star Wars Battlefront II

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