From childhood games like hide and seek to board games like chess, a game is supposed to be a little challenging, but ultimately it is for fun.
With computer games,we've come a long way from counting to ten while everyone goes to hide, but with Far Cry 2, you get the impression that we've come to far. The game design from the superb lighting to the engrossing terrain is certainly realistic, but overall the game seems to take itself too seriously.
For a start there are the militants at the outposts, which inexplicably shoot you before they can even identify your clothing. At first they seem like a nice challenge, where you can strategically pick off your enemies. This idea is soon shattered however, by the shoddy NPC design. The AI is strong, but the scripted aspects of the enemy characters lead to some doubt as to Ubisoft's integrity. If you shoot an enemy with a silenced weapon, it appears at first that you've gotten away with it. But then, if so much as one patrolling militant sees the corpse, they immediately know where you are, regardless of whether you've moved or not. Similarly, before they've even had the time to be told, every other enemy in the vicinity knows precisely where you are, so you're being shot at from all directions by people who can see through solid plants. But then, if you fire a flare behind an enemy, they turn around to look at the flare, ignoring the blatant stream of smoke signalling the direction it came from.
After you clear one of the camps you'd be forgiven for thinking that the outpost is then cleared for good, but you'd be wrong. When you're less than a mile down the road they regenerate. These outposts are positioned in such a way that most of them can't be avoided so for every two minutes of driving you've 5 minutes of chore-like shooting. Sometimes to get Malaria tablets (yes, you have malaria), by which point you're wondering if everything in this game is just designed to annoy.
The mission design is also lazy on Ubisoft's part. While the similarly open plan Grand Theft Auto series features everything from simple assassinations to dropping bombs from an RC plane, Far Cry 2 has just one pre-set mission. Go into a base with the same NPCs you have to face every 2 minutes and either kill a man, take an object or blow something up. The missions become so mind numbing that if one of the common glitches kicked in and the leader of a faction suddenly turned into a gas tank, you'd not even think twice about it.
Unlike GTA, Far Cry 2 lacks any sense of fun. The adverts proclaim the wonderfully realistic wildlife, so where is the safari hunting mini game? The diamond cases (FC2s answer to hidden packages) are a chore because they're a necessity, rather than something you want to do. And while it's supposed to be a realistic environment, every 'citizen' is an armed man who pointlessly wants to shoot you. While it may sound sadistic, there is nothing more fun than shooting some passers by on San Andreas. FC2 however, is much more dangerous, because there's nothing to take your frustration out on in the game, so you end up wanting to punch a real person.
When the game is all over, after completing the relatively pointless side missions and collecting most of the diamonds, you want to just kick back and enjoy the environment of the game and do as you want, not as the thin plot orders (I killed so many targets that by the end, I didn't even know who I was fighting for). Unfortunately, you can't explore the only good part of the game, because, despite being open plan, it ends (where GTA is fun for a long time afterward).
I can see where the game gets it's name, this is a Far Cry from the good old days when games were fun.