Although you can't say the same for the plot, Far Cry 2's first-person action squeezes every last drop of potential out of the unique African setting.
In Far Cry 2's chaotic world of mercenaries, gunrunners, and armed militias, you'll find yourself dropped into a dizzying web of shady clients and paper-thin alliances. All manner of names and faces are introduced during the course of the storyline, but the real star isn't anyone brandishing a smuggled weapon in search of blood diamonds; it's the daunting and awe-inspiring 50-square kilometers of African landscape that make up the game's open-world setting. Aside from providing the opportunity to soak up an amazing sunset, Far Cry 2's free-roaming terrain brilliantly harmonizes with the first-person combat. The diverse landscape and myriad environmental factors work alongside a wide assortment of weaponry to give you tremendous freedom to approach each mission. Combined with solid multiplayer, Far Cry 2's sheer breadth of action provides you with plenty of reason to stay lost in the African wilderness despite an underwhelming plot and the occasional sense of tedium in navigating from one location to another on the gargantuan map.
Far Cry 2's story is filled with potential. You're a mercenary working for a client who's sent you to an unnamed African nation engulfed in civil war, and your job is to take out a notorious arms dealer known as "The Jackal." He quickly proves to be an elusive figure, so you'll need to begin working for various warring factions that the Jackal has armed so you can trace the supply line back to your target. The two primary organizations at the heart of all this bloodshed are the militaristic UFLL and the revolutionary APR. You'll spend the bulk of the story working for these two groups, getting to know their power structures, and taking on all of the violent tasks they throw your way. Complicating things is the fact that your character has malaria, which means you'll need to occasionally play nice with the more ragtag Underground, the only group with the medical connections necessary to keep your potentially life-threatening symptoms at bay.
Each story mission can be played in multiple ways. There are 12 potential buddies randomly scattered throughout the storyline who you can befriend (nine of whom are available to choose as your silent protagonist), and they're often keen to tack on their own interests to the quests handed out by the UFLL and APR. Instead of just taking out a target, you have the option to earn extra reputation points by working alongside your buddy to first squeeze any remaining assets from the soon-to-be-deceased. This also earns you the ability to increase your level of companionship with that buddy. It's a neat reward, but it doesn't shed much light on their backgrounds. But that's par for the course; the main story is delivered in such a rushed, quick-and-dirty way that you never feel very involved in the game's overarching conflicts. The plot is less Blood Diamond than it is early Grand Theft Auto, a long roster of changing faces that scroll by far too quickly to capitalize on the politically charged setting.
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