So, has anyone played it?
I won't go into a huge "omg this is why this game rocks" spiel, because frankly, I don't have the energy for it! I'm curious to know who has played it, though, and what they think about it. I just recently picked it up, and while I was skeptical at first, I've been so absolutely blown away by this game that I can't even imagine why I was ever afraid of it. But let's rewind...
The first FarCry was a considerably cool game. It was a first-person shooter that featured some of the most beautiful tropical environments that had been seen in games up to that time (I believe it was put out in 2005?). You played as Jack Carver, an arms dealer in the tropical setting who gets thrown unexpectedly into a violent situation involving genetic mutation and other fun stuff. Though the plot wasn't very believable, it added some really cool atmosphere to first-person shooters, and the Xbox version even included the gradual incorporation of beast powers by the player.
FarCry 2 (from what I can tell so far) has very little if anything at all to do with its predecessor. While the beautiful, and I mean beautiful environments continue to be a huge part of the game, the plot and characters are unrelated (though I still have my ideas as to who the main bad guy is). I enjoyed the first game and the character you played, so I was afraid to see them ruin the series...
... but they didn't. In fact, they just raised the bar.
Why do I think this game is awesome? It's in the little details, the teensy things that the developers did to show that they loved this game, and that they wanted it to be an immersing experience. Let me pop out a few things that FarCry 2 does that I've not see or rarely seen in first-person shooters.
1) Healing damage in live time during combat. Seriously, who is tired of walking over health-packs and just getting all the easily-measurable health back? Me, me! I've been waiting for a game to include something like what FarCry 2 does for ages. You can get shot at various points in your body, and healing damage involves the main character needing to remove the bullet or fix his broken skin before he can successfully heal and expect to stay alive. There's something viscerally genuine about needing to hide behind a rock, bite a bullet out of your arm, and then healing before jumping back into the fray. The same goes with falling from cliffs, pulling branches out of your arms or legs, or even pushing a round all the rest of the way through the arm-meat! It's gruesome, but it's just straight-up awesome.
2) Jamming guns. The guns have lives of their own, sometimes. If you don't take good care of your weapons (or you pick up a piece of shit weapon), you suffer. The guns jam, and if you don't care for them, they jam often, and it fucks you. In the middle of a high-energy gunfight, and your AK-47 jams? The game requires you to clear the jam before you can start slinging bullets again. This is a nerve-wracking experience in first-person real-time combat, but I cheer on the inside just a little bit each time, even if I die... because it's this random shit that makes battles feel even more real.
It's even better when the guns pop slides or just downright break on your ass!
3) Propagating fire and exploding ammo crates. Other games say they have propagating fire... but FarCry 2 really does. If you set fire to some brush or launch a flare into a tree, you had better be aware as to how fast the wind is blowing or how dry the day is in the game ... because fire spreads, and it spreads like a motherfucker, leaving nothing but scorched earth and blackened trees in its wake. Not only can it help you set some amazing traps, but if fire or explosions happen to touch any of the ammo-crates in the game that you use to replenish your ammo, you'd better run, because you'll be seeing fireworks.
There's something very special about being shot at with nobody around, and then turning around and seeing bullets flying in every direction from a burning ammo crate!
So, okay, maybe those are three very minor things to make a game stand out to me, but there's more. The gunplay is outstanding, the mission-system is clever, the free-world ability to tackle any quest or fight in completely different fashions is extremely liberating. While the plot seems to suffer a bit from the wide expanses, and traveling can get a bit repetitive ... there's so much in this game to discover, and I'm going to be disappointed when the fifty-some hours I intend to put into it are through.
I'm putting my vote in for this as the best sleeper-hit game of the year. Grand Theft Auto IV and Fallout 3, for as much as I loved them, can move aside -- FarCry 2 feels like something a bit new and fresh.