Graphics and game play make "Far Cry 2" a spectacular journey into Africa. However, it’s a trip beset by a bit of tedium and an ethical challenge.

In the M-rated shooter from Ubisoft, you play as a mercenary hired to take out the Jackal, an arms dealer who’s stirring up trouble in an unnamed African country.

During a visually stunning intro, you’ll listen to a taxi driver explain how the nation has spiraled into civil war. The two primary factions are basically gangs of low-life thugs, which is good for businesses for the Jackal — and for you. You’ll spend much of your time carrying out missions offered by one faction or the other in return for a fistful of diamonds.

Most of the missions involve assassination, ambush, sabotage or theft. Some of the ruthlessness is mitigated by refugee-related missions that you’ll need to run for the Underground, which supplies medication that you need to keep a case of malaria at bay. Still, it would have been easier to stomach the carnage if it were actually in the name of something other than mercenary profit or revenge.

Tackling these missions isn’t a linear affair. "Far Cry 2" offers a huge open world — covering about 20 square miles — where you can wander, accept side missions and accomplish your tasks in the manner that suits your style. Want to be stealthy? Use a tranquilizer dart. Feeling bullet-proof? Go in with guns blazing. Want to drive your foes from cover? Use a flamethrower to start a grass fire. The game will definitely test your ingenuity.

You generally carry a handgun, rifle, machete, grenades and some sort of special weapon, such as a flamethrower. You can unlock new weapons by accepting side missions from gun-shop owners. You can also pick up weapons dropped by your foes, but they tend to be ill-kept and will jam with repeated use.

You’ll quickly learn that daytime attacks on anything bigger than a small outpost can be suicidal. The artificial intelligence is very good. Enemies will jump into jeeps to track you down or sprint to spots where they can easily pick you off. And their reactions definitely aren’t scripted. I learned this when trying to help a buddy stage an ambush. I arrived too late to help and, since I didn’t want to lose his services, I decided to reload the mission. The enemies behaved in a radically different way. Instead of manning their outpost and firing at my oncoming vehicle, one of them jumped into a car and rammed me head-on to stop me while his companions poured lead into my vehicle — and me.

Waiting for night to fall isn’t a big problem in "Far Cry." You can always duck into a safe house that you’ve liberated from one of the factions and relax and recover until the sun sets.

"Far Cry 2" boasts some of the best graphics available. The scenery is truly spectacular. You can bound across rolling savannah, traipse through dense jungles, swim through muddy rivers and skulk through ramshackle villages — all of which are stunningly rendered in great detail. The animation is terrific, whether depicting a swaying tree, an exploding car or your character’s hand pulling a bullet from his calf.

However, moving along those rivers and through that grassland can take quite a while, even when driving a jeep. You’ll spend a lot more time wandering than fighting.

In addition to the single-player campaign, the game offers the ability to compete online and to create your own maps.

The game puts a premium on realism that helps it look great and play well. Unfortunately, realism also has a tendency to get messy and a bit tedious.

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PCOn the Web:

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