GAMING BLEND

Story Analysis: Far Cry 2

By Pete Haas 2008-11-10 13:10:45 discussion comments
In Far Cry 2, players control a mercenary trying to hunt down a mysterious arms dealer known only as "The Jackal." As I progressed through the game, one thing kept bothering me about my target - besides the fact that he spoke his dialogue at Gilmore Girls speed, I mean. What really bothered me was this nagging feeling that the Jackal was really...me.

The following contains a lot of spoilers for Far Cry 2 and Fight Club.

At the end of the book/movie Fight Club, the protagonist finds out that his friend and later enemy Tyler Durden is actually his split personality. I first started to wonder whether the Jackal was my own Tyler Durden during our first encounter. The main character wakes up in a hospital bed (he's got a bad case of malaria) to find the Jackal rummaging through his belongings. He gives the player the first of many moralizing speechs and then slips out cleanly even though there's a huge gunfight raging. What struck me about this and the other encounters with the Jackal is that A) his dialogue always sounds like the voice of your own conscience, and B) no one ever sees him except for you. Both were enough to make me suspicious as to whether this was a real person.

My theory is that the mercenary sent to kill the Jackal (the player) and the Jackal are one and the same. After years of serving as a gun for hire and spreading chaos wherever he goes, the mercenary has become distraught about the endless cycle of violence in Africa. However, he's a mercenary so he comes to accept it. Like the main character in Fight Club, the disconnect between what he wants to do and what he actually does becomes so great that he develops a split personality that's willing to do what he doesn't - namely, stop the bloodshed. The Jackal/mercenary supplies each side with weapons to fuel their conflict and push them toward destroying each other. The mercenary, bouncing back between jobs for the two factions, ends up killing many of their leaders but eventually the two sides sue for peace. When the player is sent by one of the faction leaders to deliver a peace settlement, he finds the leader's dead body and the Jackal standing over him. The Jackal doesn't want the two sides to call a truce because they'd only be doing it to escape global scrutiny while they continue their conflict in secret.

"Wait, doesn't the Jackal knock out the player when he confronts him at this point?" Well yes, but that sort of thing happens with Fight Club too. The main character and Tyler Durden end up "fighting" several times but it's really the main character just beating himself up. He just imagines that this split personality is another person. I'm not saying it's an accurate depiction of split-personality disorder but if it's good/bad enough for Hollywood, it's generally good/bad enough for video games.

Anyway, the player gets knocked out and ends up in a prison. After escaping, he kills a few more leaders and a journalist tells him that the Jackal has organized an uprising at a nearby prison - the same prison you busted out of. It seems likely that the mercenary is really the one who caused the uprising - namely, by gunning down all the guards during his escape. Anyway, after the mercenary and Jackal meet at the prison - again, with no witnesses - the mercenary goes off to kill the rest of the faction leaders and then recover a briefcase full of diamonds. After meeting the Jackal up the road, he reveals his plan: he wants to bribe the border guards with the diamonds so the civilian population is able to flee the country and escape the conflict once and for all. Additionally, he plans to blow up a nearby cliff overhang with explosives to cut off pursuit of the civilians by the factions' armies.

The Jackal gives the player the choice of doing either task while he does the other. Both tasks end in death. Blowing up the overhang will kill whoever detonates the explosives because the detonating cord has malfunctioned and the dynamite must be activated at short range with a car battery. Also, the Jackal states that whoever hands the diamonds to the border guards must shoot himself to end the conflict for good. Whichever task the player chooses to perform, the game ends with a cut scene of the overhang exploding. The camera then pans out to show the journalist and civilians walking past the border while a guard inspects the briefcase of diamonds. We never see any body near the border gate.

What I believe happened here is that the Jackal/mercenary handed off the diamonds and then skedaddled back to the overhang to blow himself up. While it doesn't end the conflict in this country, per se, it does save a number of civilians from the war. More importantly, it ends the player's turmoil over the violent deeds he's committed for money over the years. In commiting suicide, he completes the mission he's had all along: kill the Jackal.

It's possible I'm just seeing connections where none exist and the story is completely straightforward. An English degree gives you a tendency to bullshit. I didn't find all the tapes recorded by the Jackal that are scattered throughout the game world so I can't say whether those contradict my theory. Can't quite explain how, if the Jackal didn't really exist, there are all these recordings of his own voice (then again, we never hear the protagonist's voice...). It's also possible that the Jackal was once a real person who's now dead and the protagonist's split personality is based on the information he knows about him. The Far Cry 2 story is a little more ambiguous than that of other video games though so there's some room to argue it either way. I guess the real question is: what do you think?
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