Your overall objective is to find and kill 'The Jackal', an arms dealer who supplies both warring factions with weapons and ammunition. To get close to the Jackal, you need to complete a varied number of sub missions, each with its own side missions. This makes for longevity and variety of the game.
You get your missions from each leader of the factions located at various points around the game world, and it is entirely your decision to whom you base your loyalties, if indeed you have any loyalty at all. The free roaming scenarios are one of the appealing points of the game, but as there is still a storyline to stick to, they are fairly linear in nature.
Making your way around the African plains is made all the more easier by the use of a GPS-style map, which pinpoints your position and gives you directions to take to your primary and secondary missions. Fortunately for you, each vehicle is also fitted with a GPS mapping system, which bizarrely are never stolen from any of the vehicles despite the apparent poverty in the area!
Vehicles in the area, as described earlier, are discarded and have the keys left in the ignition, which is a bonus for you as the amount of traveling from one location to another can become a tad tiresome if done on foot once you have witnessed the glorious scenery. I did, however, like the way that there is no loading required when passing from one village to the next, and the only time you will witness any loading is if you take advantage of the 'public transport'. This bus service will transport you from one point on the map to another instantaneously without the need to drive, which is handy as while driving, you are never too far away from being recognised by the enemy and all too often you are drawn into a firefight with pursuing rebels. While enjoyable at first, again this can become tiresome after a while when you wish to concentrate on the mission at hand. The bus service eradicates the need for skirmishing.
Weapons are realistic enough and sound very sharp. The dull thwack-click reload of a shotgun or the familiar ack-ack-ack of an AK-47 are represented by realistic sounds. The flamethrower is a particular favourite of mine, and is perhaps the most fun weapon of the game, if somewhat a little underpowered compared to some of the weapons you can purchase later in the game from the weapons store. The weapons store is your one stop shop for all your weapons and upgrades, providing you have the required amount of diamonds of course.
Targeting through the reticule is precise, and the edges of the screen blur to enhance the focal point of the target. Gun sway is realistic but, primarily at least, the guns are not very accurate. Even with your crosshair firmly fixed on the target, you might still miss. This however, can be eradicated by a weapon accuracy upgrade for that specific gun, again for a handful of diamonds.
The more diamonds you have, the better weapons you can purchase, and as the mission difficulty levels increase, weapon selection becomes critical, but the rewards are bountiful. Explosions, like the fire, are some of the best seen in an FPS to date, especially when you have a PhysX-capable setup. Sadly though, the carnage left after a massive explosion leaves a lot to be desired. For example, a corrugated iron shack that is fluttering in the wind is sometimes indestructible despite the massive explosion impacted on it. Sure, shrapnel flies in every direction, but the wooden/flimsy buildings are usually left unscathed by the damage. I would have preferred to have seen a totally destructive environment, which would enhance the realism of Far Cry 2, but until the inevitable patches are released, we are stuck with this scenario for the time being. Still, if you are a born arsonist there are plenty of other ways to get your kicks..
Should you fall foul to a road side blockade or an ambush where you are outnumbered, outgunned and taking a good battering, one of your buddies may, if you have visited the safe house recently, come to your aid, fend off your attackers and give you time to remove that piece of shrapnel, administer self first aid, and get back into the fight immediately without having to re-load your last saved game point. This is a great feature of the game and while your Buddy appears impervious to enemy fire, it is a welcome addition, cutting down on the reload time should you die.
First aid is administered through the use of hypodermic needles that can be found in first aid kits scattered around the game world. However, before you administer the first aid you need to remove the lodged bullet or shard of metal causing the blood loss. While this is a little over the top, it is only done by cinematic sequences and doesn't go into too much detail.
So while we are left shooting the moon as it were, let's head over to our testing phase where we put our top testing rig through its paces...