Note: This post contains spoilers about the ending to Far Cry 2.
I’d been told Far Cry 2 was better enjoyed in small spurts, rather than long sessions, but with a copy of Halo: Reach just days away, I’d endeavored to finish off Far Cry 2 before embarking on Bungie’s latest. I play games one at a time. That conclusion came Friday afternoon, when it appeared Ubisoft Montreal was about to confront me with ultimate dedication to its first-person narrative: suicide.
You’re given two options for Far Cry 2’s endgame. One, assist in triggering several bombs that leave no opportunity to escape. Boom, you’re dead. Two, bribe border guards with diamonds—then kill yourself with a gun. Again, boom, you’re dead. Both actions are required to secure safe passage for communal refugees within Far Cry 2’s fictional African sandbox. Since Far Cry 2 has offered precious few options to players once a mission is underway, one would be right to assume death is in the cards.
Except it isn’t, disappointing for several reasons. Far Cry 2 abandons its strict adherence to the first-person narrative in its closing moments. I chose the diamonds. Agreeing with the game’s central antagonist that we were both selfish war mongers—a disease, in his words—was irrelevant. I’d been a bad person throughout Far Cry 2, turning down the one opportunity the game presented to project my own moral judgements—saving a church—onto an otherwise immoral creature. My Far Cry 2 persona did not deserve to live, so given the opportunity to willingly take my life, it seemed an appropriate end.
That end never came.
You deliver the diamonds and the game fades to black, presenting an ending with little finality to the experience. I immediately wondered whether Far Cry 2 has multiple endings, entertaining the idea that I’d somehow triggered the wrong one. I’ve continued to resist that temptation because it’s irrelevant. Far Cry 2 presented a profound, horrificly violent opportunity to me as the player, one that I decided to take. Then, the game took it away, with no attempt to explain it away. One might argue “Who the hell would take their own life? Of course you agreed to the terms of the mission, you walked away with your life!”
How much more powerful would the final moments had been if the game pushed the player to their knees, had them move the gun to their heads with an analog swipe, then ask them to make a choice?
I don’t know what I would have done next. I might have put the gun down, allowing my own insecurities to interject into the virtual narrative. It’s just a game. I’ll never know, though, because Far Cry 2, an intensely personal first-person experience, brought closure through scrolling text. That’s too bad.