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Far Cry (ceasarbautista.com)
237 points by luu 42 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments



I have been to the Sudan a few times in the early Nineties. It was my first time in Africa and I went through ultimate culture shock. I experienced military checkpoints, interrogations by security staff, civilians armed with assault rifles casually walking around and I had an AK47 pointed at my chest in a scary encounter with unassignable forces in the middle of the desert.

With this precondition, Far Cry 2 completely smashed me. The intro scene, in which the avatar arrives at the airport, is picked up by a driver and transferred to the hotel - passing checkpoints on the way and with no way to do anything else but to look around - is one of the strongest episodes in computer game history for me. Nothing is happening in that scene, but I had a full flashback of my experiences in Africa: the disorientation, the helplessness, the subtle tension. I could smell the air and had sweaty hands on the controller. This part hit me much more than the remaining game play.


I had a similar experience when playing Half Life for the first time. As a child grown up with Doom, Quake and perhaps Unreal (can’t remember if that came afterwards or not), it was the first one that really caught my imagination. That intro level on the monorail still rates as my best immersive gaming experience I’ve had.


My vote would be for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. https://youtube.com/watch?v=U3EnVrAquBA


I'm a big fan of the opening in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGzGsb_TPtI

I had forgotten how good it is. The whole game was very good. The next one, World at War was also good, but I didn't enjoy any of the later installments.


Far Cry 2 is in some ways an anti-precursor to many systems that are now standard in games of its type (especially its sequels, which go in a much safer homogeneous direction). In particular, its systems are realistic and exact to a fault in a way that often feels antagonistic to the player. While this is a pain in the butt it also makes the game fascinating to play - you are an interloper in the space it provides and are not welcome.

For example:

* Checkpoints respawn full of enemies and you never manage to fully exert control or supremacy on the world.

* In world map that you have to look at in the game space and time continues while you do so.

* Vehicle physics are punishing and you cannot press a button to "fix" them. If you crash that jeep, it's done.

* Weapons constantly jam and are generally crap to use.

* Thrown weapons have physics - ie: grenades roll down hills (often back towards you)

* Plotline and factions are hazy and undefined. You have a core mission (hunt down an arms trader) but everything around this feels directionless and punishing.

* The game does not do much or any "fudging" of the systems to increase player enjoyment. Often games will silently assist the player to make the game more exciting (your health is not linear and goes further as you approach death, enemy and your own aiming of weapons is improved or reduced to highten tension, combat arenas will be arranged to be more "fair to the player) and Far Cry 2 ignores this.

I would hesitate to call Far Cry 2 a "fun" game but it is certainly a good one, and has spawned a lot of good discussion, like this piece and pretty much the whole of the Idle Thumbs Podcast(now on extended Hiatus, sadly).

(Edits to fix formatting)


I somewhat value realism, the problem is the control interface on PS4/XBox/PC games is never remotely real and so I need concessions to that fact that. Something that would be second nature in real life manipulating real objects with real hands and or actually using my body and head becomes frustrating and tedious translated to the 18 buttons and 2 analog sticks of a modern controller. If I had a gun in a holster I'd know exactly where it is at all times and be able to grab it without really thinking about it where is in games I've often been killed fighting with the control system to let me select a weapon.

This is one place where VR accels. When a game's VR control system is well designed it's so much more intuitive than the non VR counterpart.

The most obvious example is you just look in the direction you want to look. You don't press and hold the camera stick and wait for the camera to swing around. Other good examples include actually ducking behind walls and looking around corners with your body instead of pressing the duck button and the peak around corner button. A good example of that is Budget Cuts but it exists in plenty of other VR games.

Yet another can be switching inventory by just grabbing things off your belt or back or arms.

I haven't tried Far Cry in VR. Usually games not designed for VR don't translate so well.


I guess for many of us, the controls have become second nature (mouselook in my case) so they do not break immersion for me for that kind of game.

Something like Far Cry 2 in VR would be amazingly immersive but also terrifying. The main other issue I see is that the Far Cry worlds are huge, and exploring them is a large part of the appeal. And walking around in VR isn’t a solved problem yet as far as I’m aware. (IMO teleporting breaks immersion more than mouselook controls ever have but YMMV.)


> * Vehicle physics are punishing and you cannot press a button to "fix" them. If you crash that jeep, it's done.

You could repair vehicles, but you had to exit the vehicle, go in front and play an long-ish animation. And it even then vehicles couldn't be endlessly repaired.

You've also forgotten the malaria pills you had to take, the fire which will spread in all directions, how all weapons ended up breaking (and weapons taken from enemies were much lower quality), how your pals could die saving you(and you would be able to finish them with morphine) (and even then you had to kill the survivors at the end) and on console, being able to save only in safe houses (it really diminished the tension of my playthrough on PC when I realized that I could save anywhere). Also it's quite unique compared to the other Far Cry is that there's no character progression (except weapon unlocks), the PC is the same 1 hour in to the end.

Still a good game, but not necessarly as fun as the other Far Cry (Blood Dragon being the best in that regard IMO)


> While this is a pain in the butt it also makes the game fascinating to play - you are an interloper in the space it provides and are not welcome.

Very comparable to the Dark Souls franchise with its animation priority, personally I'd also put The Long Dark into the same category.

TLD was a particularly surprising experience, after decades of mindless spriting around in video games, this was the first one that really managed to punish me for rushing things when there's no need to rush.


The way I describe it is that FC3 is the better game, but FC 2 is the better experience.

I don't really know of a better way to describe it than this. I vividly remember playing this game, marching around at night, and getting the vivid feeling of being there. I've been playing games since the Atari days and this is the only game I've ever felt like this with, period.


One of the most underrated games of the last decade. A brutal, unforgiving safari into the inhumanity of war amidst a stunningly beautiful landscape. Surprising that few games since have been set in Lion King country.

Although they’re basically Easter Eggs you have to hunt for to experience, the Jackal’s audiotapes are some of the best-written, most hauntingly acted dialogue in video gaming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCJBOZC7XdQ

Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives also has a great essay about Far Cry 2.


It’s a great game that was let down by its rapidly refreshing outposts which made traversing the world a chore. Fortunately I believe there are mods to fix this.

The immersion really was great. I loved pulling out my map while driving and trying to navigate while driving; it was utterly impossible to do both tasks well at the same time.

The sequels threw out the baby with the bathwater unfortunately but it inspired great new immersive experiences in games like Metro. Even the Ghostbusters game did a great job of placing all the game feedback on your proton pack.


Rapidly refreshing outposts were the primary source of fun to me: the fact that they respawned meant that there was nothing gained by attacking them, it was much more rewarding to plot a route on the map and sneak past.

In fact I normally printed out a map and annotated it with patrol positions to help plan my routes between missions, usually via rivers, quickly fleeing if spotted.

Most of the game for me was an exercise in navigating the map at night (sleeping until night if necessary) and getting into a good sniper position for my next target (being sure to be close enough it wouldn't reset).

I think respawning is justifiable as a mechanic, though it would be better for infinite reinforcements to arrive on an infinite stream of transports. That would probably be too harsh for the people who fight their way through the checkpoints though.


> I think respawning is justifiable as a mechanic, though it would be better for infinite reinforcements to arrive on an infinite stream of transports. That would probably be too harsh for the people who fight their way through the checkpoints though.

this is one of my major gripes with open world games like far cry. some of my favorite gameplay is either ambushing patrols or getting surprised and having to fight your way out. I had a lot of fun with the convoy side missions in far cry 4. it gets really boring in the late game though when your weapons are so powerful that it's trivial to dispatch the small groups of enemies you encounter. if I start picking guys off deep in enemy territory, there should be some sort of overwhelming response at some point.

my other issue is how the stealth mechanics tend to play out in these games. if an enemy sees me kill someone at an outpost, the whole place is at full alarm for sixty seconds trying to find me. but if I just hide behind a tree and wait out the timer, they give up and act like nothing even happened. it makes it feel kinda pointless to clear a whole outpost without getting detected. there's no need to destroy the alarms either when the "reinforcements" are only a couple more trucks with enemies.


Your post made me remember how much of that game was spent driving for me and how much I enjoyed it. Rather than sneaking around I would often just drive at break neck speeds in creative ways like taking cliffs and busting through fences to shortcut past a dangerous hot spot.

After reading the article I was thinking of playing through it again, after reading these comments I’m 100% committed.


Yep! It turns out that by being familiar with the terrain you can nearly always travel anywhere without engaging anyone, often without even being seen. This component of guerilla warfare was well portrayed.

Traveling through obscure routes was the best part of the game IMO.


If I remember right, there was also a point to point quick-travel system, which I used a lot to cut down on the checkpoint fights.


Thats very cool and certainly an inventive way of playing.


The problem of Far Cry (and I played all of them) is it’s repetitiveness.

Also they don’t spend that much time in balance so you may spend 90% of the game using the same weapon.


IMHO the best Far Cry is the one they did pretty much for fun, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Great soundtrack and just pure fun. There are parts where they just gave up on any sort of realism and you just blast everything with a cool soundtrack, riding a dragon equipped with lasers.


For me it was the perfect "grown up" game. In a weekend or something like 10-15 hours, you get to access the full depth of an AAA gameplay, a satire of 80's action movie mashup story and constant self-conscious jokes.


Also compared to 3, you start already as a murder machine, you don't have that slow progression before being able to fight and fight well.


Agree, but past 3 that they started repeating themselves very much :)


I specifically mean the Blood Dragon spinoff though. It's like a compressed Far Cry.

I also played Far Cry 4 and Primal, but got bored halfway through. If they only made them shorter!


It’s funny how you can’t please everyone. My take on Blood Dragon is it was a cute gimmick that was unnecessarily dragged out over 10 hours of gameplay.


Even the forced tutorial was hilarious.


I haven’t played any of the others but I loved Far Cry: Primal. The Stone Age setting is (I think?) unique among video games. (I think there’s a Blood Dragon Easter egg in it too, incidentally.)


Far Cry 2 was the best FC for me, but Blood Dragon was a close second. Steam tells me I spent 202 hours playing it.


Life is often dull and repetitive so this can be a pro or a con depending on what aspects of the game you like, that raw immersion of the chore of survival is what hooked me.


No, I mean that in Far Cry 4 they literally copied most of the characters and repurposed them for the new skin of the same game.

I mean, yes - they had more weapons/new animations/etc, but the quality of the experience suffered.


Ah yeah they changed focus big time after the success of 3. I think they sacrificed some of the immersion and realism to focus on going mainstream and eventually adding multiplayer, the effect being that now both aspects are mediocre.


I can remember Far Cry 2 as one of the most immersing games I've ever played. It was far beyond other games from that era. Sadly, most players seemed to be overwhelmed by game, (or frustrated by bugs and some game mechanics) . I really miss this level of reality in almost all modern games. It feels like all of them are just meant to be taken as kind of an interactive movie, played for some hours and then to be forgotten. Games could be so much more.

Does anyone knows other examples for great, immersing games?


This is a vague comment. What about Far Cry 2 made it especially "immersing", to you? What was the part that made it feel like "reality"?

For me i found Far Cry 2 spectacular, probably the best first-person shooter of all time, because it constantly makes you feel like shit about the fact you are playing a mass-murderer. That felt confronting and "real" to me. Another game that does this is Spec Ops: The Line, although that is a much more tightly-plotted "interactive movie" type game where you are funneled along certain paths to advance the story.

Another very bleak and depressing shooter is Metro 2033. It is horrendously difficult. You will never have enough ammo. Your gas mask will always break. I never finished it because it made me feel too miserable every time i played. Unlike Far Cry 2 you are forced down corridors, so there is no respite. You can't just go out in the jungle and watch the sunset for a while.

If you are looking more for "open world" games where you can wander around on a big map and do your own thing, there are dozens of those. Personally i am not a fan so i can't give a specific recommendation, but you could check out any of the other Far Cry games, the Assassin's Creed games, Grand Theft Auto 3 and later, Fallout 3 and later, Red Dead Redemption, Stalker series, Metal Gear Solid 5 and probably the other ones too, etc.

If you are more interested by the sickness and vulnerability aspect, there is a whole class of games called "survival games" that don't give you a storyline, they just set up random environments that you have to walk around and survive in. I imagine the better ones are similar to those times in Far Cry 2 where you crawl on your belly through the mud and the elephant grass desperately trying to make your way to the doctor who will refill your meds before you die of malaria.

It really depends what you are looking for from a computer game. Personally, i get Far Cry 2 feelings mostly from games that don't follow shooter mechanics - walking sims, art games and adventures... but those genres are frequently likened to "interactive movies", so i think it depends a lot on your taste.


The Dishonored series is very good at evoking an unsettling moral environment. When the game starts you are a straight-up hero, fighting to clear your name and restore a "responsible" monarchy that has been overthrown by a dictator. As you make your way around the game world you start to connect the dots and realise what a horrific place Dunwall is.

Arrogant untouchable aristocrats preside over a plague-ridden hell of inequality, exploitation, animal cruelty and human experimentation, alongside a fanatical religious police whose godless faith seems to be based only on fear of the unknown.

And that was the state of affairs before the dictator took over. Apart from the plague, that is the world you are trying to restore.

The characters you play have their own moral conflicts within the world, but are still creatures of that society, place and time. I find it fascinating how Dishonored drops you into this familiar yet uncanny world where people think very differently from us.

This worldbuilding, along with the wonderful art direction, stealth gameplay and masterful level design make the Dishonored series my favourite games of the past 20 years. Get the whole series, and make sure you get the DLC for the first game :)


IMO both games are best played at max difficulty with most of the HUD junk turned off, and no save-scumming. You're a friggin' superhero, and even at top difficulty the only thing keeping you from shredding your way through the levels (past perhaps the first one) is whatever sense of ethics you bring to the game.

Max difficulty just means if you screw up, people die. Not you, probably. But other people. That's an uncommon experience in games, where you have enough power to accomplish goals while keeping kills low and it doesn't require a ton of trial & error and "gamey" playing to do it (think, the Thief series or something like Deus Ex at the higher difficulties) so it all feels relatively natural. But there's real challenge and tension in trying to get through when a miss-step means killing that guy you're trying to avoid. Your goals are well enough motivated and important enough that it's not plainly unjustified to fight your way through, and these folks are trying to kill you, but they're also people with their own lives, and you've got some serious great power / great responsibility things going on. It's an interesting & fun perspective.


I can't force myself to finish Dishonored 2; compared to 1 I just found it too "unatmospheric" and couldn't care less about the plotline (meh). Does it get better? Steam forum is full of people complaining about it being boring.


While I prefer the atmosphere of the first game, Dishonored 2 has some of the best level design and environment architecture I've ever seen. Have you been to Jindosh's clockwork mansion, or paid a visit to Aramis Stilton? I loved those levels. Also I really wanted to know what happened to Daud, so I scoured the whole game looking for clues about him. :)

Then again, I am a huge Dishonored fanboy. There aren't many games that make me feel like that these days, so I embrace it.


>For me i found Far Cry 2 spectacular, probably the best first-person shooter of all time, because it constantly makes you feel like shit about the fact you are playing a mass-murderer. That felt confronting and "real" to me.

I hate when games do this. Far Cry 2 and 3 were really bad about it, as well as Bioshock. The game puts you in a situation where you have to react a certain way to play the inherently limited game world that was designed by a person, and the designers think they're like crazy insightful for pointing out that your character is killing hundreds of people.

It's so tautological and annoying. "Oh my god, you just played this game the way we designed it and now your character is a mass murderer, how can you live with yourself?!" Eye roll.


I tried to play Bioshock and gave up after about an hour because i found all the mindless zombies running out to kill me kind of tedious. The story (if there was one) didn't capture me at all.

Far Cry 2 was a totally different kind of game. Far Cry 2 wasn't leading the player on some voyage of self-discovery. There is no epic storyline. It is clear from the very beginning that you are a foreign mercenary coming into a war-torn country to kill people for money. You are a scumbag from the jump, and you continue to be a scumbag throughout the entire game. If you don't want to play that game, you don't have to play it.

The thing i like about Far Cry 2 is that it never tries to shoehorn in some kind of redemption arc. It never tries to justify the violence. You take money from both sides. You double-cross everybody. Just like other first-person shooters, you kill pretty much everyone you meet. But unlike other first-person shooters, there is no implication that the people you are killing are "baddies". You are just a killer. The end. I don't think the designers are sitting around feeling smug about it. That's just the game. I thought it was a good one.


There's some kind of redemption arc during the ending sequence of Far Cry 2. But that's it and I agree with you.


Funnily enough, I never saw those games as criticising me. I saw them as portraying a particular character, who I was playing as but ultimately had little control over.

In Spec Ops: The Line, I'd go out of the way to check whether there was a way to avoid committing a war crime before taking the action the game was railroading me towards. This meant that I was able to prevent some things, e.g. shooting over the heads of a hostile crowd to drive them away rather than firing into them, but at other times the needs of the character's narrative drove the experience. It felt like playing as the remnants of a conscience, rather than controlling the whole mind.


it's not "deep" or "thought provoking", but it's a breath of fresh air from the usual fps cognitive dissonance of being a hero who runs around massacring thousands of people. honestly I don't think FC2 even tries to make you feel bad; it just doesn't bother to shove some ham-fisted justification of your violence into the plot. it's nihilistic. spec ops: the line is a game that actually tries to make you feel bad about what you're doing. here's a collection of some of the loading screen "tips": https://www.reddit.com/r/Frisson/comments/2596hq/text_spec_o...


As it explains in the essay, there is a system called Infamy, which is so subtle that I didn't even notice it. It assesses your cruelty in the game and the people in the world behave accordingly. Apparently, at the extreme they even stop trading with you. As the quotations in the essay try to explain, the creators of Far Cry 2 explicitly evaded embedding a moral story or judgement in the game, but rather created dynamic conditions for the player to form moralistic narratives himself.


I imagine that is also how real mass murderers feel, that life forced them into it somehow. You are always free to stop playing the game.


I really like it when games try to keep their world as realistic as possible. One of the main things Far Cry tried to achieve. The fires, small but important animations like getting in and out of a car (like described in the article), and so on. This could also be applied to sci-fi titles, like Metro. Metro indeed is one of the few good examples. Despite the weird setting with all those monsters, it's very realistic. Ammo, gas mask, you mentioned it.

When talking about immersing games, I think you have to clearly separate between those that have an immersing story (great setting, exciting story,..) and those that are immersing in the setting and environment itself. I think the latter is what actual is talked about in the article. Assassins Creed has a great story, but I never really felt very connected to the character. Same for Fallout 3 and 4, although the whole game is built around your very character. Fallout Nev Vegas, on the other hand, had a very complex environment where making a false decision could lead to a complete different ending of the story.

About the point of survival games: I can't remember one game of this genre that was truly immersive, because all lacked some particular part; be it being close to reality, be it about vulnerability or emotions. SCUM is pretty good in this, but is far from being a title worth pushing into the same line as Far Cry 2 or Metro.

But, in the end, it's all about personal opinion and preferences. Like hoorayimhelping said, he doesn't like being pushing into the evil mass-murderer role. I for my part like this very much and the challenge of trying to find the most "civil" way to reach your goals is kind of immersing, even if the title is a shooter. Good example here is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, the scene at the airport where you had to kill hundreds of civilians [1]. I played the mission both with the part of the civilian killing, and without, but here was no difference. The environment didn't punish you for either killing or sparing people. In my opinion a very interesting conversation.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_surrounding_Call...


> the scene at the airport where you had to kill hundreds of civilians

You didn't _had_ to kill civilians. You can just follow the others and not fire a shot, until the firefights later in that mission.


>I can remember Far Cry 2 as one of the most immersing games I've ever played. It was far beyond other games from that era. Sadly, most players seemed to be overwhelmed by game, (or frustrated by bugs and some game mechanics).

I downloaded it from Steam based on these comments and the article, but I haven't even gotten to do a proper mission yet. After the opening sequence in the jeep and escape from the hotel* my character woke up in a room and was instructed to get some weapons and meds. I ran over to the weapons and picked them up straight away and now nothing I can do will trigger the NPCs to recognise I've fulfilled those two tutorial things.

It's only frustrating because I already sat through the opening sequence twice after the game crashed after the jackal's speech in the hotel the first time. That kind of thing I can always put up with. But to get out of being trapped in this room that teaches the player how meds work, I'm gonna have to do the story mode from the start again.

Game cost ten bucks so I'm not mad. I'll get back to it. But yeah, found a bug.

*(which was great - I was 10 or 11 when Half Life came out and still consider the opening train sequence one of the coolest game things I've ever seen -it's the best take on that intro concept I've seen)


I played HF for the first time last year and I found the intro sequence a bore. Like, yeah, it has not aged gracefully (unlike the gunfights of the game, which were still cool), but still I don't understand why it's praised to high heaven


Maybe it's better in my memory then.

But HL1 is ~22 years old. Any innovation that was groundbreaking for its time has been absorbed I suppose. It's like how the first time I heard the Ramones I thought they sounded really tame and more like the beach boys than anything else. Because I'd come to them after fugazi, minor threat, dead kennedys, and all the pop punk stuff that came after those. My context was all screwed up because of the intervening years.

It's like how I read a comment on here once. Someone had read william gibson's neuromancer and thought it was really cliche and trite. I read that comment and I was like, yeah, it's cliche and trite because everybody copied it! We made it that way.


Perhaps.

On the other hand, I can't think of another game where the beginning of the game is such a long non-interactive/gameplay-free sequence, so I don't think it's something that has been copied a lot.


I remember playing Crysis around that same time as after Far Cry was released, Ubisoft took over the Far Cry franchise and Crytek focused on Crysis which in my opinion is an excellent single player game... right up until the aliens come into play. Then the game play dynamic dramatically changes in a way that doesnt have the same appeal. Maybe it's just me but same thing happened in Crysis 2, aliens get involved and the game becomes much more linear. Crysis >=2 are not good games. They suffer from overly boring, linear consolitis gameplay.

BUT I still recommend you pick up a copy of Crysis as it was one of the last great single player PC-first FPS games. The lush jungle graphics, AI and super suit along with large open-ish maps allow you to approach goals in many different ways. Very fun state of the art game from 2007. My brother thought Far Cry 2 was a technical achievement until he played Crysis and said the graphics blew away Far Cry 2's. He also complained of the repetitive convoy attacks and annoying malaria thing.


Disco Elysium is fantastically immersive, a unique game and one of the best ever. You have to enjoy reading though.


I was curious, so I searched for "most realistic video games" and most of the pages were concerned with "realistic graphics" rather than "realism." Also, I didn't see FC2 mentioned in any of them.

It feels like the two qualities overlap in some ways but are different in others. In 2 there was so much detail that you could shoot the blades on a fan and it would spin. A lot of this detail seems to have been lost in the later titles. As someone else put it Far Cry 5 "looks realistic" while Far Cry 2 "is realistic." Maybe they felt that excessive realism didn't contribute to making the game fun, although the impression I got was people saw FC2 as "superior" in some sense because of the attention to detail (such as nearly all vegetation being destructable in 2 but not in 5).


I don't play many games but I remember playing the original Ghost Recon and being impressed/frustrated at the fact you can die with two shots and you have very little sense of where they came from. The second shot could follow soon after and still none the wiser.

I'm not sure if other games (indeed, other games in the same series) followed that pattern, I enjoyed it though.


The Delta Force series liked its realism.

In another genre, Bushido Blade & Bushido Blade 2 are semi-realistic (jump height's exaggerated, but otherwise pretty real-ish) weapon-based fighting games. I'd love more like them but haven't seen anything similar since (both are on the original Playstation). One-hit-kills are common, and you can cripple limbs—arms in the second, legs in the first—both are limited in the realization of their ambition by technology and, presumably, budget.


Rainbow Six had that right from the initial game, one bullet - you are dead, unless your wound is treatable and a medic takes care of you within a minute or so. That is the pinnacle of realistic combat.


I assume that in the game, though, being treated by the medic means you go straight back into play, rather than being medivaced and spending months in hospital followed by years of learning to walk again?


I frankly don't remember how it was in the first game, I think you switched over to other members of your team (you started levels as a team and then got killed off one by one). Getting a team member dead meant you couldn't have the same team member again (i.e. you had to use worse people).


My old band brother did the soundtrack and sfx for that. Before he went for the interview in Germany we had a long talk about it. I propsed to him to try and make the soundtrack more dynamic, so we came up with an approach were everything was a soundchannel which could be turned off or on. If you went into area of danger music would intensify without you hearing any fade in fade out between entire pieces.

He went to do the interview and got the job because of this suggestion. He later went on to do hitman and Hans Zimmerman took over on FC2


Cool story. This essay is about FC2 though.


Yeah I know. Just wanted to add some more context.


Oh I didn't mean it like that. I genuinely enjoyed the story. Your last sentence made me think that your friend worked on FC1, since you named the composer for FC2, that's why I pointed out that while the essay is called Far Cry, actually it's about Far Cry 2. But then I googled around that Hans Zimmerman wasn't the composer for FC2, so now I'm just confused.


You are right FC3 it was.


James Joyce, in his “A portrait of the artist as a young man” makes a statement — through the voice of Stephen Daedalus, his alter ego — that a work of art that is really tragic must necessarily provoke in us both feelings of terror and pity, and go beyond pleasure and disgust. Here's the exact book passage:

“—Aristotle has not defined pity and terror. I have. I say...

Lynch halted and said bluntly:

—Stop! I won't listen! I am sick. I was out last night on a yellow drunk with Horan and Goggins.

Stephen went on:

—Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the human sufferer. Terror is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the “secret cause”.

—Repeat, said Lynch.

Stephen repeated the definitions slowly.

—A girl got into a hansom a few days ago, he went on, in London. She was on her way to meet her mother whom she had not seen for many years. At the corner of a street the shaft of a lorry shivered the window of the hansom in the shape of a star. A long fine needle of the shivered glass pierced her heart. She died on the instant. The reporter called it a tragic death. It is not. It is remote from terror and pity according to the terms of my definitions.

—The tragic emotion, in fact, is a face looking two ways, towards terror and towards pity, both of which are phases of it. You see I use the word “arrest”. I mean that the tragic emotion is static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. These are kinetic emotions. The arts which excite them, pornographical or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion (I use the general term) is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing”.


Time to dig it out and give it another try. When the game came out, I remember just feeling so "bleh" about it. Sure there was realism to it, but I remember it feeling so pointless. Drive here, drive there. Sure it's beautiful, and the mechanics were neat, but it just felt like a chore. I suspect a lot of people felt the same way, and maybe that's a reason why they backtracked on that concept, and swung back to Far Cry's linear roots. This article has given me something to look for in the game, so I'm excited to give it another shot. Funny how sometimes with art, you need a little hint about what to look for to enjoy it.


It's the only Far Cry game I couldn't force myself to finish and I finished all the others (including Blood Dragon); the most surprising was Far Cry 5 where it started completely meh (I left it alone for a month after the initial gameplay) and then ended up as my favorite; maybe 2 is similar.


The most disappointing thing about Far Cry 5, for me, was the lack of a sanitized version of the map without creepy death cult murder sites and such, that you could drive trucks around, hike, and hunt & fish as you please. My (much too young to play Far Cry) son would have loved that, and it's almost there in the post-game sandbox mode.


There are often mods to do stuff like this, at least for PC. If that works for you, might be worth a look.


I think they've started doing those for the Assassin's Creed series, so you never know, future iterations might bring something like that.


Funny, 2 is one of the few games I ever played twice.


Try increasing the difficulty level. When you take as many bullets to die as the enemies do, and there are typically more of them, it very much becomes a challenge to survive, and the whole atmosphere becomes more convincingly menacing.


I had great fun in Far Cry 2 for about 30 mins. Then I realised everything respawned as soon as I turned my back, then I got run over by a jeep that spawned out of thin air.

And then I never played it again.


The two rules of game AI:

1. Cheat.

2. Never let the player catch you cheating.


Just reading your comment I thought: hmm I wonder if you could have the AI match the player, so whatever your own accuracy is, then the AI accuracy matches ... then thought, no you'd have to have the AI lag ... then thought, well there most be thousands of algorithms used to provide challenging AIs that adjust to players?

So anyone link me a blogpost on popular AI skill adjustment tactics when programming games?


I read about this sort of thing years ago, and I seem to remember the consensus being that while it's entirely possible to build skill-adaptive AI, it tends to frustrate players no end. I don't know if there's been any movement on that, and whether anyone has made it work well.

The issue you raise is however entirely orthogonal to the respawning outposts in FC2. If you crank the difficulty up, the confrontations get very difficult very quickly - when you're on near equal footing with each AI NPC, being outnumbered is very, very dangerous. I think the outpost behaviour is just an obvious flaw they couldn't fix before shipping.[1]

Personally, I could live with it - you just avoid the outposts altogether and get on with things. You're supposed to be engaging in guerrilla warfare, right? Don't waltz into an outpost. Certainly, neither they nor the various other rough edges in the game ruined the experience for me. It's one of my top games of all time - I recently replayed the first part of it on the highest "Infamous" difficulty.

And no, it's for the most part not fun, in the same way that a thriller isn't fun but you can still feel positively about the experience - as the article tries to explain; I'm not sure the morality aspect is the full explanation though. Personally, the immersion itself seems to be a large part of the appeal. The simulated world is just so incredibly well done. Beautiful and haunting and terrifying.

[1] On the one hand, I'd love to see a "definitive edition" of the game where this sort of stuff is fixed and replaced with mechanics the designers originally had in mind. A (to me) obvious solution would have been to play up the 2 factions in this regard, in that each outpost is owned by either the UFLL or the APR at any given time, and that the player taking an outpost eventually causes shifts in the occupation map. On the other hand, there's a pretty good chance the game could be ruined by making it too much like a game with mechanics and goals like that.

The less disruptive fix would be for the ever-present patrol vehicles to simply re-populate the outpost when they find it empty, and radio in for further reinforcements. (Outposts typically have 4 NPCs defending, the patrols are 1 or 2 NPCs.)


Celeste (a platforming game) has an enemy who copies your inputs, making them appear to chase you.


I played FarCry, FC 3 / 4 / 5 / New Dawn - I am yet to play FC 2. Why? Every time I start it I found myself bored by it after 30 minutes. I even had my kid play like 1 hour, maybe it will delve better into storyline, then picked from there, all to no avail.

So when I've read this article Immersion section a small smirk started on my face. You want immersion in a game? Play Gothic 1/2.


This is such a subjective thing. It surprises me time and time again. I can say the exact opposite for my experience of what you said. I found all those other FCs unengaging in the least, though some of them had fun mechanics that kept me playing, but never immersed. Gothic 2, haven't tried 1, I found horrid. Stories unengaging, world unrealistic, mechanics uncomfortable. The only thing that kept me playing Gothic 2 for more than 30 minutes was that combat was hard and supposedly required skill. Once that got old, there was hardly anything left.

I don't want to deride those who enjoyed Gothic. Like I started out saying, this is such a subjective thing. I didn't enjoy ~90% of popular RPGs either. Best exceptions: Planescape Torment, some of the GTA games, kind of, and Crusader Kings 2.


I think Gothic 1 is far better, and there also might be an element of “you had to be there” as in be the right age when you discover the freedom and bigness of the game compared to other games at the time.

The realism of the world is still unmatched by many titles in the way all the NPCs of the world had a routine that followed the day night cycles, and you could do whatever you want, make allegiance with whoever you want, and all be progressing the game in what was the first or best anti-linear game for many people.

Much of the bigness was attributed to straying too far into the wilderness being absolutely dangerous.


I loved Gothic 1 and Far Cry 2, both are unmatched by the sequels in many ways. The immersion is different though, in G1 the world and your place in it was very believable, in FC2 the first person experience of the player was very believable. I can see how one may be more appreciated than the other, but I can’t feel right about comparing them.


I can see the points he discusses. There was a lot of quality in that game. e.g. The enemy dialog in Afrikaans was an interesting choice.

...but the gameplay mechanics itself were horrendous. After doing the same thing 10 times. (Drive through open space full of checkpoints full of baddies that keep respawning)


So my “moral choice” was that I found it grim and unfun, lost interest and played something else.

Which I guess constitutes its own answer to the question posed.

(Also, consider there are plenty of engaging narratives that don’t attempt anything like this level of immersion.)


I'm reminded of this story[1] about the game's fire propagation:

There's a funny anecdote about that. A few months after Dominic told me I had to propagate fire to everything, I had it working in my test environment, and I decided to give it a try in the game.

I launched the game and decided to attack a small camp with five or six guards. There was an explosive barrel there, so I shot a single round into it. The barrel exploded and sets fire to the grass underneath, and the fire spread to the camp and set fire to the hut.

The hut set fire to the trees nearby, and the flames reached a propane tank, which went flying in every direction, setting fire to everything in its path.

One of the guards then caught fire and, in his panic, set more things on fire. Within two minutes, as far as I could see, literally miles of terrain were on fire. Every single tree, every hut, everything. The result was that I had killed every guard by shooting a single round and that my PC was now reduced to a crawling speed.

[1] https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/111851/Interview_How_Far...


I think the author is not familiar with modern gaming. He takes a single example (a modern sandbox fps game) and ignores sandbox games in general - which would have yielded way more interesting observations. The only other titles there are either way older or totally different in genre. I know this type of argument-building is traditional in academic writing (elaborate analysis of a single barilla pasta ad from the 50s comes to my mind) but it always struck me as a low effort.


To me immersion is the most important thing I seek from a game, and Far Cry 2 bumped up my expectations a lot. The atmosphere, realism, freedom. It is still #1 narrative-heavy first-person game for me, which is impressive and sad.

The series went downhill. I presume that the success brought on the ever-clueless money men. Later installments are arcades as opposed to experiences. Then again, maybe the objective with the later series is just to make money and art is just a side-show.

Does anyone know of comparable games?

For me, the other most significant experience was playing a heavily-modded ARMA 2 in an online community called United Operations (that was some ~5 years ago maybe). It was a community dedicated to realism and simulation of military engagements. They simulated various eras and conflicts, from Vietnam to the invasion of Iraq (99% of content we used was community made).

They used ACRE, which is by far the most sophisticated in-game voip system I'm aware of: you can talk, you can whisper, you can shout, and there's a dozen of different real radios that simulate everything from range to interference. You could even hook up one radio (like squad radio) to one ear, and a platoon radio (if you're a squad lead) to your other ear. You could run a radio from a HMMW's speaker. ACRE was responsible for at least 70% of the immersion, realistic comms are that effective in multiplayer.

There are some things I experienced playing ARMA 2 that I still remember so vividly as if it happened just now. I remember experiencing mild shock because of the tension build up.

One of those memories is a night mission. Our side is Taliban and we're preparing an ambush. The opposing side, US forces, have to escort a VIP through our valley. Taliban's objective was to capture the VIP _alive_. We know US will be equipped with night-vision devices, while we'll have to rely on natural sight. It was overcast fullish-moon, so our visibility I'd say was around 5-10 meters, maybe less. We had trucks, so we parked them in crucial spots and turned on the headlights. Later, during the engagement, I didn't hear our trucks being repositioned, so I presume that either it was too dangerous or they weren't that effective, or their lights were simply shot out.

Anyway, the valley was narrow, less than 100 meters probably, and we setup in a small village that covers the whole width of the floor of the valley. I don't remember if we were 100% certain that they'd come through here, there might have been a parallel ambush site higher on the valley wall. They came through this village.

US forces were mounted, but didn't have any type of support (no air, no arty, no armor, nothing larger that .50 cal). The way villages were built in this region was wall-to-wall buildings with occasional gaps in between where vehicles can't pass or risk getting stuck while zig-zagging through the irregular arrangement of buildings. Only one road ran through the village. US forces could approach from the valley walls or from the valley floor while dismounted, but they would likely try to get their light vehicles through the village as well to get fast transport through and out of the valley.

We, the Taliban, had a normal platoon style hierarchy, but it was of minimal use and we were mostly lone gun-men, because we couldn't coordinate. The capacity of this game to simulate and immerse in coordination is huge. We couldn't coordinate, because A) we practically couldn't see each-other (or often the enemy), because of the dark and because we were spread thin, B) we couldn't shout, because we couldn't afford to give away our position, C) we didn't have individual radios, like for example US spec-ops would.

I was a ligt machine gunner. We tried to spread ourselves evenly as possible. My position was relatively deep in the village, near the main road. At first I was covering any incursion from the valley wall, later after the initial gun-fights died down I moved to a nearby road-side house. I lay prone in that house, watching the road at a near 90 degree angle through an open door-way. I could see and fire upon a stretch of about 5 meters of road, depending on how close the target passed to the building.

90 degree angle wasn't convenient fire-power wise, ideal angle being 0 degrees, i.e. facing the traffic full-on. However, since those who I lay in ambush of had night-vision, if I had used a shallower angle they might have seen me before I saw them. With a 90 degree angle, I would have a very narrow time-window to engage, but it would be at a distance where night-vision advantage was negated and I was unlikely to be spotted before I opened fire.

The main thing about this experience was the atmosphere of what I can only call the loudest silence. Since we had such a severe sight disadvantage, we didn't maneuver. Well some of us did probably, to some extent, but I practically stayed put, changing positions only once in maybe 30-40 minutes to watch over the road, until the firefight that is.

All this time, you watched the dark, where you weren't even sure you could make out a human figure if there was one. You listened to shots and ricochets somewhere on the outskirts of the village, a flare (probably hip fired) was popped a few times. You tried to make out faint sounds around you: foot steps? Is someone slowly stalking? Imagination was as much a problem as the night blindness. You could never relax: you had to control the sounds you made, the movements, you had to listen to the sounds behind you, making sure you don't get shot in the back while lying on the ground. You had to move as little as possible, because even with NVG a still prone figure can be hard to make out. All this contributed to a strong sense of tension that was gradually growing.

As the time passed, I could hear less and less firefights, and, more importantly, fewer and fewer signs of friendly activity. It was increasingly hard to tell if there's still 20-30 of us left, or just me. This hiked up the tension even more.

By now I was in the road-side building, watching the road. In the distance I heard a motor, faint. Then the sound started growing louder. There was a light vehicle in the village and it was revving.

My hands were already moist, but now my heart was climbing my throat. I could hear the car approaching fast, accelerating hard out of the turns. Was it a friendly car? Or, was it enemy? Will I be able to hit a car going 70km/h at an agle of 90 degrees from a distance of maybe 5 meters? Do I reposition? I have only seconds to decide.

The road was already down-sight. When the car's engine became so loud I couldn't possibly imagine it getting any louder, I pulled the trigger pressing it to the guard and I kept it there.

My gun released a deafening and blinding spew of white fire. After a moment, the car passed through my fire at a very high speed. I saw it for a split second. Headlights were not on.

As soon as it passed, I released the trigger. In retrospect, my eyes were probably adjusting to the again dark scene, and my ears were probably ringing, because I didn't have ear protection, but I didn't notice any of it. My heart was about to jump out of my chest.

I jumped up off the ground and I ran outside, hoping to pepper the car from behind as it sped away. As I left the house I heard a crash. This was one of the last buildings in the village, and the car, after passing me, went off-road and hit a tree dead-on and that's where I saw it.

It was one of our trucks. 4 person AWD. I was sure that it was hostile, but in retrospect I couldn't have been 100% sure.

I started sprinting towards it, lugging my unergonomic gun. When I got within about 15-20 meters of it, standing squarely behind it, panting, I put the gun to my shoulder and sprayed long bursts at the passanger compartment aiming at the back window.

The game abruptly ends. We lost. The VIP was on that truck. My first burst incapacitated the driver, so the truck crashed. My second and last set of bursts killed the VIP. I came within seconds of delivering victory and instead I forfeited the game. Best gaming experience ever.

This very long recitation of something I did years ago hunched up at my computer is in its own way a testiment of how immersive a good game can be.


Wow. I read this in awe. I admire your writing style, you kept me in the storyline and now all I want is to play this game. GG :-)


Thanks! I'm very pleasantly surprised that some people read all of it.


Fantastic example of fog of war. Nice write-up!


Fog of war: that's a great way to sum this up. Thanks!


Harvey Smith (lead designer of Dishonored, etc. etc.) wrote an article about his love of Far Cry 2 a while back:

https://web.archive.org/web/20140622234515/http://penny-arca...


> Other times, an enemy will leave his post to stalk and kill an animal himself.

I still play FC2, but have never seen this. Always more to find!

The immersion appeals to me, especially the vegetation, sunsets/rises and sound design in nature. It would be great to have an actual, non-cartoon sequel. (not necessarily in Africa, but the approach to immersion).


Yeah, this isn’t something I’ve seen either, and given the limited wildlife behaviour (tiny bit of damage to them and they fall over like a wooden prop) I’m wondering if this might be a case of Chinese whispers.

And yes, I too would love a sequel in spirit.


So, an enemy might have just walked into an animal?

But TBH I have never monitored an enemy outside a outpost in an area with animals.


So, an enemy might have just walked into an animal?

Possibly! They normally take flight when they notice a human nearby[1] but as the player you can certainly bump into them if you sneak up. And I think they just fall over and die if you do that.

The other claim in the article that's clearly untrue is the one about not hearing a line of dialogue twice. The idle dialog between NPCs definitely repeats fairly soon, sometimes within a minute or so. So I get the impression the author isn't particularly familiar with games and is quite happy to parrot some of the publisher's claims or perhaps they found some pre-release interviews where some of this was mentioned.

[1] As they should! Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of wild mammals and birds in Africa, including predators, will be on alert it if they spot a human nearby and leg it if they get close. Safaris are only a thing because cars/safari trucks haven't been hunting or retaliating against predators for 99.9% of the last 100000+ years, and most animals can't distinguish the human figures/faces inside vehicles. This is another thing Far Cry 2 got right versus the subsequent Far Cry games, which are just crawling with highly aggressive predators and where the herbivores are essentially tame.


I was wrong: walking into an animal doesn't harm them (you can even jump on them). But just touching them with a vehicle kills them.

I agree it repeats, though the dialog is pretty rich and there are even several accents. I can imagine in a direct play through there wouldn't be much repetition. I mean, I muck around a lot.

BTW There's also many different enemy idle animations, some only in one location, like fishing, eating a meal, exercises.

You're likely right that the author is more interested in analyzing the game, rather than being a die hard fan.


Thanks for checking! :-)

Oh, I’m not complaining about the voice acting. The fast-talking mission briefings are a little odd at first, but they work. And yeah, they put a lot of effort into idle animations and chatter; putting more effort in just yields diminishing returns. Plus, real people repeat themselves too, particularly when bored…

I just brought up the matter-or-fact remark about never repeating a line because it suggested something to me about the author.


I didn't think you were complaining; I meant maybe it's possible the author played through and did not encounter (or not notice) dialog repetition.


This is one novel presence of a topic. I just had a phone call with my friend talking about "Improving our craft and the mechanisms in detail". Well we discussed it in software perspective as we both work in this sector.

After having the call, I read this and firstly I thoroughly enjoyed how the author of the post had spelt his words about the game in such detail and comparing it with the philosophy. And how the creators of the game crafted the bits and pieces as though they think that they are bringing something new that the world had never seen before. Indeed, the article denotes that they did it pretty well.

This will really be my bookmarked reading again and again to put myself in an optimistic position.


Had to force myself to finish this game; While being impressed by the game engine, the armed outposts quickly became tedious to pass by. Malaria was a pain in the ass. The gunfights were boring. I also recall that the ending was bad but can't remember precisely why (Last played 12 Jan 2015. 21 Hours total play time).


Oh but the driving!


Bummer. There was a Ubisoft sale on gog yesterday and I missed FC2 :(.


People's reactions to art, especially complex art[0] is going to be highly subjective.

What I wonder most when reading this article is "Will I enjoy a game that successfully evokes those emotions in me?" That's my go-to. But as I read on, the author changed my mind a bit. I may want to actually experience the game, regardless of whether or not I'm willing to continue playing after a short bit of experimentation.

I think that crossed an important line, for me. I wasn't a snob that believed "video games would never be considered a truly complex art, only a form of (mindless) entertainment[1]". In fact, I believe video games have so many things about them that are superior to what we generally consider art (film, and even in some ways, the written word). And I put my money where my mouth is -- at home, I am strict about consumption of "mindless entertainment" (read: almost all things TV), but I will let my kids play many "social" and creative video games with very little/no limits[2].

The difficult place I see game companies in, these days, is that to create this form of immersive environment is really expensive (though getting cheaper every day). And the more risky moves they make (i.e. punishing the player to evoke sensations of guilt for "Doing the Right Thing(tm)" as is so true in real-life), the more likely the game is going to be solidly rejected by mainstream audiences and that cost will not be recouped. Perhaps this is a future cause of "all great art fails to be recognized in its time"

I, personally, haven't been a gamer for a long time. I mostly play with my kids, and while I can hold my own, I can't handle a game that I can't meaningfully play without getting destroyed seconds in, and I've found that the games that fall into these categories tend to have that level of difficulty around them. Now that my kids are getting older and starting to play some of the more teen-oriented games, I'm finding myself wading into those waters again. I haven't been terribly impressed, if I'm being honest. Other than the graphics being dramatically better -- but, lets face it, I work in this industry ... that wasn't a surprise and the novelty wares off, quickly, when the gameplay starts and you discover that the physics hasn't come as far, as fast.

[0,1] Quick: Define art. Define entertainment.

[2] Only to say, I don't consider them an activity to be avoided in favor of other, more meaningful/educational-oriented activities, but to be balanced with other healthy activities like "exploring/playing outside/making things with non-virtual things". I never got the whole "Quit building that entire universe in Minecraft and go sit at the dinner table and play Sorry! with your sister"




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