A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an extremely violent and realistic shooter set in a war-torn African country. Players take the role of a hardboiled, morally grey mercenary who, when not plugging his enemies full of lead, setting them on fire, or blowing them up, is often seen jamming a knife in his leg to fish out shrapnel, sticking a pair of pliers in his arm to pull out a bullet, or injecting himself a medical stimulant. Simply put, it's plenty bloody. However, the game does a good job of realistically recreating the terrifying atmosphere and environment of an African nation at war with itself, and sends out an unambiguous message that an influx of weapons in such a situation does more harm than good.
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What's it about?
The original Far Cry for Windows PC was a sprawling, epic, highly realistic shooter. It spawned four console offshoots which, while fun, significantly tamed the original's scope and authenticity. However, FAR CRY 2, the first proper sequel in the franchise, restores and expands upon the first game's enormous, imposing, and beautiful environments by providing players some 50 square kilometers of completely free-to-explore African wilderness, multiple means by which to carry out each assignment, and a lengthy campaign designed to last a minimum of 30 hours--potentially much longer should players decide to seek out every last mission and hidden item.
The game's hero -- your choice of nine rough and tumble mercenaries from around the world -- is on a mission to rid a war-torn African country of an arms dealer known as the Jackal, a man responsible for providing weapons to warring factions in more than a dozen of the continent's civil wars. But our protagonist is no angel. He does dirty work for both of the conflict's factions to earn the cold hard diamonds necessary to fund his investigation. And while he establishes a rough brotherhood with a few other hired guns, there's no attempt to make these men out to be noble knights; they're professional soldiers, plain and simple.
Is it any good?
It doesn't take long to figure out that the game's real star isn't any of its grisly military men, but rather its lush jungles, rolling deserts, and expansive savannahs. Zebras and wildebeest roam the plains, wind ruffles the leaves of trees and bushes, and the sun, moon, and stars rotate across the sky to create a wonderfully believable day/night cycle (we can actually see this happen in sped up photography whenever our avatar sleeps). It would probably take half an hour to walk across the game world from one corner to another, and you would never see a loading screen while doing it. Spend enough time with Far Cry 2, and you may well feel as though you've actually visited Africa.
Other elements help to extend the player's sense of immersion. Cars break down and have to be repaired with a wrench. When injured, our hero must fish out bullets from his flesh or pat out flames on his legs. Should he become gravely wounded, one of his buddies will come to his rescue and carry him away while fending off attackers -- an excellent alternative to the traditional die-and-respawn system found in most games. These unique tweaks combined with the game's gorgeous environments help Far Cry 2 overcome its semi-unlikable characters and give the game a flavor all its own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about this game's portrayal of a conflict that resembles the sort we often hear about in the news but, thankfully, never experience firsthand. Does it seem realistic? How do you think you would cope living in a world in which gun-toting militia walk the streets and armed blockades keep you from traveling freely? Do you think a game like this helps players get a better feel for a problem taking place half a world away, or is it simply more mindless first-person shooter entertainment?
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