PC Gamer US Edition|March 2022
Is it possible to stay out of trouble and just enjoy the views?
Matt Killeen
You emerge from the iron shack into luminous dawn, a blue hour vision of crushed darks and saturated colors to the susurrating of strings, pregnant with tension. Before you, a stretch of scrubland peters out into the gleaming desert at the reddening horizon. But in front of that is a car.

It’s a sports car of sorts, but you know this was born in a second-string factory in the ’80s, its sharper corners now unfashionable, its metaphorical corners cut. Racing stripes are lost in a veneer of rust and decay. Yet you know that this car was someone’s pride and joy, the result of many nightshifts and dreary days. Now it’s a potent symbol of the UAC’s deterioration. Misplaced money, exploitative imports, shattered dreams… Then a dust cloud in the distance signals that this moment of reverie is over, and you have to shoot someone in the face.

This moment has stayed with me for more than 13 years. It was one of the most vivid places I had ever experienced and sits with other distinct, sacred memories both real and virtual, from approaching Rapture, to the wonders of the Maasai Mara itself.

I loved Far Cry 2. There was atmosphere and cinematography that Vittorio Storaro would have been proud of, and a soundtrack that featured Baaba Maal. There was a lightness of touch that demonstrated that developers trusted the player to fill the blanks if they provided an immersive enough experience. Most of all, I had dreamed of an FPS Elite, a truly open world I could live in, and approach as I saw fit, with as few breaks in the mise-en-scene as possible. I wasn’t disappointed.

I loved the actual map and GPS you hold up in real-time, the healing animations, being revived then carried to safety by acquaintances, and the surrounding desert providing the softest of invisible walls. All these worked to sustain immersion, even if the game’s desire for verisimilitude bore contrarian fruit. The prevalent opinion was that much of it sucked.

Most were irritated by the recurrent bouts of malaria, but I thought this was genius. Likewise, both sides in this war, equally mired in murder and corruption, want to kill you, regardless of what you do for them. This means that you’re being shot at, by everyone, all the time. “I can’t drive anywhere without being chased,” was the common complaint amongst folk.

To which my answer was, “You drove places?” If you weren’t hiking into the mountains to watch the sun set over the savannah between missions, you were playing the game wrong. I suppose this was where gamers began to diverge, now that the worlds were open and real enough, between those who were all about the ’splodes and mayhem, and those for whom walking simulators would later be designed. The latter would populate the hills and forests of Day Z and Rust, harried by the former, before leaving to fall in love with Delilah in Firewatch.


I’ve had a hankering to return to the UAC, and it’s the hiking, the sunsets, and the zebras that I’m after. A holiday. I’m not interested in the journey to the heart of darkness or the nihilism, I’m not even after the Jackal as such. He’s just an optional day excursion.

So, no unnecessary deaths. No guns. No moral relativism. Just a good time.

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