Saturday 21 February 2009

How To Kill People More Effectively In Far Cry 2

I love Far Cry 2. You want to love Far Cry 2, but you’re always getting killed, then getting rescued by your buddy only to get killed again a mere minute later. So here is SLRC’s top 5 tips on How To Kill People More Effectively In Far Cry 2. Inspired by Steve Gaynor’s post ‘Basics of FPS encounter design’, because Far Cry 2 is both the epitome of good FPS encounter design, and its antithesis.

#1 – Distance is the man killer, and you are the man.

If there is only one thing you learn about playing Far Cry 2, it should be that the distances involved in any engagement are an order of magnitude higher than any other game around. The sprawling African savannahs allow for you and your enemies to trade potshots at targets up to a kilometer away – and still retain reasonable chance of hitting.

Long range weaponry is king in Far Cry 2 and ideally you want to have at least one weapon with a scope on it at all times. Why? Because your enemies are better than you, can see through the brush and scrub better than you and there are just plain more of them. The more distance you can create between yourself and your target, the less likely they are going to be able to land any hits on you (especially if they are wielding shotguns, LOL!).

However, we here at SLRC know that ideal isn’t always possible, as you will probably eventually run out of bullets from killing so many people. In that case, you’re going to have to close to a middle distance and change to an alternative weapon. Note however, that I have never on a difficulty harder than normal been able to fight closer than 50 yards and take no damage; the AI is just too fast and too accurate at point blank range. Be smart and Just Don’t Go There. Which brings us to point #2.

Pro Tip: If you get your angle right, and you are patient, you can often shoot two people with one sniper round! Brillantine!

#2 – Pick where YOU want to murder people, don’t let them decide where you are going to die.

If your enemy doesn’t know you are there, you have the advantage of time, as well as space. Use it. Choose both where and when to engage. If possible, follow point #1 and fight from as far away as possible. For arguments sake, however, lets pretend you don’t have any sniper weapons or (more likely) you’re out of bullets from killing all those naughty mercenaries. Sometimes you need to get up close and get your hands dirty.

The main thing to look for is cover – learn to read the environment and look for things that you can potentially stand behind and that won’t let bullets through. If the obvious approach to a position doesn’t look like a good idea, it probably isn’t – don’t risk it. Swing around and come at them from the side, or even better, from behind. There’s usually a multitude of options in Far Cry 2, so explore them. That stand of trees off to the right looks OK, but further to the North West there is a burnt out car, which is even better. The bigger the cover the less bullets you’ll be pulling out of yourself. Higher ground is always a good idea, too.

Since Far Cry 2 utilizes a semi-recharging health system, getting behind cover even when lightly wounded is absolutely critical unless you want to burn through syrettes like a morphine addict on a week long bender. It becomes an issue particularly on the higher difficulties where you can only carry 3 on you at all times (without buying an expensive upgrade for more) and is compounded when you’re trying to save some for when you buddy gets injured. Defensive play is often necessary at medium-close range, and that’s only possible if there’s plenty of cover – the enemy can and will flank you and you will die.

Pro Tip: If your enemies are in cover and you are standing in an open field, you’re probably already dead.

#3 – Know your escape route and when to GTFO.

This ties in with point two, because if anything at all goes wrong, you will need a plan to get out of there and the faster the better. If an engagement has a chance of going hairy, SLRC personally like’s to park it’s car facing in the direction I know I’ll be wanting to escape and it has been useful on more than one occasion. An anecdote:

Once, on a mission to assassinate a prominent member of a faction, I parked my jeep on a large hill to the west of my target. A huge grassland area with no cover stretched between me and a number of his body guards. I parked my jeep facing south-west and started picking off mercenaries. They swarmed at me like I’d disturbed an ant hill, and I cut off their direct approach to me by starting a fire in the grass between me and them. However, as fire likes to travel uphill and it quickly turned on me meaning I had to GTFO as the ground caught fire beneath me. Thanks to having my jeep parked already facing the way to go, when I got in I was able to move in a safe direction and get out of the fire without taking much damage at all.

Often times, however, it will be the caser that your vehicle will be destroyed or disabled when you need to GTFO. In that case, sprint is your friend – learn where the sprint key is and the sprint-crouch move which allows you to slide the last few meters along the ground and into cover. It may just save your life!

Pro Tip: Your vehicle can be a valuable source of cover for your pathetic, bleeding figure as you limp off into the jungle.

#4 – Start a fucking fire.

I’m tempted to leave this point as-is, because it really is as simple as that. The effect of a nearby fire on an enemy is described by the Far Cry 2 fire propagation expert, Jean-Francois Lévesque (who is on twitter, incidentally), in an interview on Gamasutra.

Speaking in RPG terms, the fire acts as an area of effect fear spell.

Life forms will flee or at least try to avoid fire. It disorients the AI, making enemies forget about you and focus on saving their own skin. It gives you an advantage against high numbers of opponents.

Before, during and after anything goes wrong in your fight you should be thinking about starting some kind of fire. You always have on you two Molotov cocktails available for throwing and there are often many things you can shoot to blow up to start fires too. Make use of them all - anything to get those bastards to stop shooting at you!

Pro Tip: Despite the fact that it’s an extremely cheap weapon from the Gun Merchant, the flare pistol combines points 1 and 4 from this guide! Don’t underestimate the potential in starting a fire exactly where you want it, really, really far away.

#5 – Don’t use someone else’s gun, keep yours clean and don’t run out of ammo.

Weapon deterioration is a big part of Far Cry 2 as anyone that’s played for more than an hour or so can attest. So make sure to visit the weapon dealer regularly to pick up a free new gun – remember, if you’ve unlocked it you can get new ones whenever you like for no additional cost! Isn’t that handy?

When you run out of sniper ammo, the LAST thing you want to do is ditch you gun for (to quote Danny Archer from Blood Diamond) some “rotten AK” which is going to jam on you when you least need it. A better idea is switching to a secondary or special weapon, until you find an ammo box or crate.

Pro Tip: A big-ass machine gun in your special weapon slot is a very good idea for when you can’t use your sniper rifle, and when your pistol is a flare gun. As much fun as it is to light men ON FIRE with the flare gun, it’s pretty dangerous and SLRC does not recommended it.


Fashigady said...

Cool story, bro!

Anonymous said...

Love the game and a nice article - too bad i can't finish the game due to the save game bug... hence why it has been traded in. It shouldn't take months to fix a bug that was there from the get go...

Ben Abraham said...

PsyKoMunKy -

Awww, that's too bad. Seriously, the ending to FC2 is one of the few videogame endings that is worth getting to, in my humble opinion. For me, it just encapsulates the themes of the whole 100 hour game into the last two hours.

If you ever get a chance (like if the bug ever gets fixed), do go back and try and blast through it again. Simply stunning.

Erik said...

Well done, Ben. It's amazing how right FC2 seems to get the tactics of the situations, and--as shown through how unintuitive they seem to some players--how wrongly many games and other media have trained us to play the superhero.

Why shouldn't it be assumed that 1:20 situates the one in the role of the careful and treacherous saboteur?

I will admit, though, that the more cautious strategies do lead to a more slower pace to the game than we may want, given often limited playtime. There's good reason I'm only 60% through, but I'm very much enjoying the experience (albeit in a self-hating way, sometimes). ;)

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Anonymous said...

Good list Ben

I'd like add one if I may:

Maintain discipline under fire.

When you decide to attack - commit to it fully. Attack from cover. Take the time to aim. Shoot to kill. When the enemy starts to encroach - and they will - do NOT panic. The sound of bullets flying past your head and impacting on your cover is way preferable to the sound of bullets slamming into your back as you flee.

Be aggressive and never fall back unless it is the only option... a well understood dangerous mess reigned in through liberal application of directed violence is almost always better than the poorly understood dangerous mess you will find yourself in when you lose your nerve.

Every tactic must be supported by the committment and discipline required to see it through.


If you are forced to move - always remember that giving up ground is giving your enemy as much or more of a break than it's giving you. Since you are almost certainly dead already at this point - consider redoubling your efforts and making an even more aggressive *forward* push to split the enemy line and get into the ground that they were using that caused you so much trouble.

Erik said...

Interesting notes, Clint. When things get messy for me, I tend to make them messier still through liberal use of explosives and fire.

Then again, my FPS personality tends to swing wildly from ninja/sniper to pirate/shotgun whore. I've been known to get frustrated with my MAC-10 and switch to melee when I can.

Scott Juster said...

I hope you're making this into a series of self help videos. I want to see this during the commercials when I'm watching "Cops" at two in the morning. You can have the ShamWow guy on as a guest!

Seriously thought, thanks for the tips; they'll come in handy.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I’m glad to know that there are other players who appreciate the time, effort, love, and soul that Clint Hocking and crew have poured into FC2. It should have taken its rightful place among the pantheon of all time great FPS (Doom, Half-life, Bioshock, etc.), but it got brought down by unfair nitpicking.
One of the things that I enjoy about the game is the realistic small unit tactics the enemy AI uses to kill the player (and vice versa). Killing at maximum range, the importance of reconnaissance, flanking, fire and maneuver, violent action, cover and concealment are all things I learned in my life as a (former) Marine officer. I don’t know who was advising the FC2 developers on military tactics, but they got a lot of things about the gunplay just right (the weapon models and reloading animations are sometimes wrong though, and the AI is weak in or near enclosed spaces). When I first played the game using rote FPS tactics, I died a lot. When I started to apply my military training to my playing, the tide turned, even in the latter missions where I’m dealing with 10-15 enemies in one engagement.
Some players have complained about the unresponsiveness of the avatar’s movement. The complaints are probably based on the unrealistic conditioning we’ve experienced in other FPS games. In the real world, combat is exhausting. A fully kitted soldier or Marine will not be able to run 40 MPH indefinitely, as in all other FPS. At most, you can expect to sprint 50-150 meters and still maintain combat effectiveness. You will not be able to effectively aim your weapon if you are sucking air from running. FC2 does a decent job at simulating this limitation.
BTW, Clint’s advice on fighting forward rather than backward into enemy space is correct tactics for defeating an ambush. It’s counterintuitive, but the only way out of the killing zone in an ambush (which is essentially what much of the combat in FC2 involves) is pushing through and cutting the enemy line. I’ve done this many times in the game when confronted with overwhelming numbers and it works. It’s better than getting gunned slowly gunned down as you move backwards. I’m not sure if the AI is coded this way or I’m viewing my game experience through the lens of my own training, but violent decisive action disorientates the enemy.
I’ve turned some of my fellow military officers on this game and they agree that it a great tactical shooter simulation.

cyberdaemon said...

Dont fight in the open when inside the bushy areas.You wont see them and they see you.The best you can do is to fall back and hide behind something big.If you are good , you can manipulate them into coming out of the bushes (where you barely can see them).Then ambush them one after another as they enter to your field of fire.I also reccomend to stay inside smaller buildings or other closed spaces during the battle.That way most of your angles are already covered.Its safer if you dont take fire from many directions at once.The golden rule is : "One enemy at time!"

Use the dart rifle instead of standard snipers.The dart rifle is silent , accurate and kills with every hit.When you shoot at enemies with dart rifle , the enemies usually freeze first and then start runnign around.They might also gather around the first victim.They often are unable to locate your position or even the direction the hit came from.Notice that when you use normal rifle , enemies go to hiding.This almost never happens to the dart.The only weak sides are that it fires like 27 shots before it breaks and with higher difficulty there is just like 4 shots for it.As about bad reliability , use the safe house boxes to keep the extra dart rifle in there just in case.Just font forget to renew the case once you get back to weapon shop if needed , because 2 broken darts dont make 1 fixed one :P

When you are seriously hurt and at least one enemy is right next to you , the Mac 10 will be your best friend.I dont know how many times it saved my ass because i emptied the whole clip on one enemy in front of me.I didnt even waste time for iron sights.Just empty the damn clip without the iron sights , come on you at least can wound him.Then you are clear to run to safe spot somewhere away from the rest of the enemies. Grenade or molotov spam can work too , but be careful.

You know that agressive car voice that enemy vechicles do when they close in ? That might be the very last sound you ever hear.If you happen to hear that and you cant instantly identify the location of the car , the chances are the its behind you few meters away and ready to drive over you any second.there is only one thing you can do - run behind or on top of anything wherever you can.As long as its a "car safe".I know that most of the times its probably false alarm or its not that dangerous , but many incidents can be survived thanks to this trick.If there is nowhere to run , then at least change your position radically , it lowers your chances of getting that cars registration number print on your arse :P

Talking about driving over the enemies.You cant do it everywhere.Its better wise not to try this at the enemy bases main gate , all you do is kill a 1 or 2 of them.But then consider there are loads of more just right next to there ready to jump on you and surround you.And you dont have even place to cover , because they shoot at you from all the directions.

Do not be scared by the enemy mounted machineguns.Unlike in real tactical games , these weapons (including ones on the car) often offer even less threat than someones desert eagle.The only mounted weapon you should be afraid , is the grenade launcher.And enemy never even fires it if you are too close to him.But for the rest of the mounted guns , its rather more like a flash and bang show than any serious threat.

Two close/medium range weapons are actually a good idea.Despite the game taking place in an open sawanna , there are loads and loads of closed spaces.For example , i use FAL Paratrooper (more accurate than AK47 , but equally deadly and good reliability) and mac10 combo.The idea is that sometimes my assault rifle runs out of ammo in the wrong place and time.And reloading next to an enemy , who happens to have a shotgun is a bad idea.So whenever i can no reload i switch quickly to my backup and eliminate the threat before i even think about reloading anything.

Its also interesting when you cause enemies to blow themselves up.They just have to shoot trough everything , no matter how explosive it is :P

Anonymous said...

I noticed too that the AI will check its fire if you are too close to the grenade truck, lest it blow itself up.

Although not a combat tactic, I recommend purchasing the vehicle upgrades as soon as possible. I used to think they were worthless, but I had a lot of funds to waste, so I bought an assault truck upgrade. Not only does it reduce the repair time for when your vehicle is busted, but it increases both the speed and the amount of damage the vehicle can sustain before needing repairs. With an upgraded assault truck, I am able to drive directly through 3-4 checkpoints before having my vehicle shot out from underneath me. This really helps in the second map because there seems to be a checkpoint every 100 meters.

An upgraded Jeep Liberty can literally do 180 spins with the correct application of the handbrake. Very cool trick.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has their own effective ways of approaching combat, so I won't waste time preaching about tactics. I WILL waste time preaching about the M79, though.

Depending on your outfitting, the M79 can fill in a lot of gaps in your ability to address many problems that no other single weapon can accomplish in a short amount of time. Enemy vehicle(s)? Sniper in a tower? Clump of dudes? Destructible cover? Just want to show someone that you care? Land a grenade somewhere in their zip code, and the problem is resolved. Conflict resolution in a 40mm package. The only problem is finding regular ammunition supplies, so mind those explosive caches.