Alec Meer over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a sort of hindsight retrospective re-evaluation of Far Cry 2 out today.  He didn’t like it before, but now he does.  Well, at least, now he appreciates it – and for many of the same reasons that I did as well.

I’ve written a bit about Far Cry 2 before.  It was a game that I found utterly engrossing at the time, because of the exact same sense of constant fear and weakness described by Mr. Meer.  My favorite thing about that game was trying to plot out a course to the various distant quest locations, figuring out how to by-pass as many checkpoints as possible and reaching the destination by the skin of my teeth.  This was particularly the case before I discovered the buses, which made things SO MUCH EASIER but also eliminated a good deal of that tension.

There was also an interesting discussion of the exact same game, and many of the same issues, by the guys on the Idle Thumbs podcast Episode 143.  That discussion was prompted by an almost tragically sad email by an individual who was on the Far Cry 2 team, and who had decided that the game was a failure.  One of the most interesting points raised was about the way the game dis-empowers you, the player, in ways that are incredibly unusual for an FPS, and in particular for an FPS released back then.  While nowadays, with the boom in rogue-likes and the example of Dark Souls in mind, it’s much more acceptable for a game to put the player in a truly hostile world, back then it was jarring – particularly when the game looked and felt and was released as a typical AAA FPS.

Yeah, there were a lot of things about the design that were both incredibly frustrating and which made no sense.  But that game did a lot of stuff that’s not been done before, or since, and for all the legitimate crap it has taken, it’s still a major achievement.