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Game Review

The gritty first-person shooter Far Cry 2 is thought of—and has been branded—as a sequel to the popular Far Cry game from a few years ago. But the two games really have very little in common other than the title.

The first installment featured a Rambo-ish ex-Special Forces guy who dives into shoot-'em-up action with soldiers and genetic mutants while trying to rescue a beleaguered female journalist. But game designers Ubisoft must have thought all that save-the-innocents machismo and sci-fi fiddle-faddle was old-school fare. Because this new chapter is all about straightforward mercenary wetwork.

Gamers play as one of nine different hired killers who range from a former U.S. Marine to a former Yugoslavian paratrooper to a Chinese contraband smuggler. After donning the digital skin of a rough-edged pro, you're dropped into a North African territory that's being torn apart by two warring factions—the United Front for Liberation and Labor (UFLL) and the Alliance for Popular Resistance (APR).

In truth, who's fighting whom isn't all that important here. The gaming objective is to simply find an arms dealer—a guy named the Jackal who's supplying guns and ammo to both sidesand leave him in a pool of his own blood. Players fight with, for and against anyone who will help lead them to this illusive goal.

It's All About Execution
Far Cry 2 certainly hits the African plains running. The world that your hired soldier maneuvers around in is large and wide open. You can pretty much choose to go wherever you want. In fact, to keep you from wandering too far, the game gives your character a case of malaria. Too much meandering and your knees buckle. Stay on the map, however, and you can pursue and follow up on whatever objectives suit your fancy. You're also given the leeway to approach assignments in a variety of ways—which makes the planning as important as the execution.

The problem, however, isn't in how you're executing ... but whom. "Assignments" are generally about murdering soldiers, civilians, or both. So your planning entails deciding whether to blow out somebody's brains from yonder hilltop with a sniper rifle, mow him down from behind that nearby burned-out car with an assault weapon, or get up close and personal with a flame thrower and machete.

With each successful mission you're rewarded with a new potential connection to the Jackal and the possibility of scoring some blood diamonds you can use to beef up your personal arsenal. Oh, and there's one other reward: Gamers have the opportunity of expanding their lexicon of foul language if they play long enough. Everything's ultimately included, from multiple f- and s-words to God's name being abused.

Dial M for Murder
Now, some may say—as one of our video game-playing readers recently did—hey, it's an M-rated game, what do you expect? It's aimed at a mature audience so it's bound to have blood and guts and "adult" language. Does that always have to be negative?

Um. Let me think. Oh, yeah, the answer is yes. While it's my job to point out negative content, it's also my job—and my passion—to note the creative energy and positive messages that might be part of a given game.

But sometimes there's just not much good to get into.

Even if you excuse Far Cry 2 for glorifying mercenary bloodletting, the fact is that the game mindlessly repeats the same futile, self-destructive actions over and over to the point of gore-streaked tedium. That's never been good gaming. And it won't suddenly become good gaming just because you tack a 2 onto the end of a title.

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Bob Hoose Kevin Simpson

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