[In this new regular section, I’m going to record some of my more memorable gaming moments, the moments that remind me why I play games. In this entry I return to the game that has probably immersed me more than any other in the past couple of years, a first-person shooter in which I spent the vast majority of the time avoiding shooting: Far Cry 2.]
I haven’t moved for about a minute now. I haven’t twitched either analogue stick; I haven’t pressed a single button save my controller’s left trigger, which has been held in for what must approaching ninety seconds. My finger is beginning to cramp. Part of me knows it is unwise to keep my sniper rifle’s scope up for this long, but the rest of me knows that if I lower it, Murphy’s Law dictates that the mercenary guard at the other end of my sight will spot me instantly.
I am lying in a bush beside a dirt road, perhaps two hundred metres from the security checkpoint and perhaps half a dozen mercenaries. I do not need to take this checkpoint; hell, I don’t even have to pass through it. All I have to do is get across the road. According to my map, there is a narrow gap between the mountains on the far side; I need to get through it to get to my next objective.
But first I have to cross the road.
This isn’t my first attempt at doing this. The first time, I was too cocky. I drove the motorboat right up to the shore beneath the checkpoint—I was dead before my feet hit the dirt. This time, I dumped the boat upstream and swam the rest of the way. I snuck up the far bank and got to this shrub before I remembered the checkpoint’s sniper.
Through the scope of my rifle, I can see him looking right at the shrub, but he doesn't seem to have noticed me yet--at least, he isn't shouting. My crosshair hovers firmly over his forehead. If he does see me, I’ll fire before he can bring his own rifle up, but the rest of the camp will be alerted by the gunshot and surely kill me. Still, those chances are better than being sniped as I cross the road.
If only he would turn away.
I haven't moved for over two minutes now. It doesn't sound like long, but standing still for two minutes in a first-person shooter is a long time. My mind begins to play tricks on me. He has been standing still for an awfully long time. Perhaps he knows I am here; perhaps he is just distracting me while the other mercs come up behind me with shotguns and grenades. No, that is ridiculous; he hasn’t moved at all.
Why is he even here? What leads a man to risk his life for another country's civil war? Is he a citizen of this country? Some old colonial’s descendant? Doubtful. What amount of money buys a man’s loyalty? Then again, how is my character any different from him? After all, I am just a hired gun, too. The only goddamn reason I am cowering in this bush is because the local warlord offered me a pouch of diamonds.
He turns and my meandering musings are instantly abandoned. I release the left trigger, lower my rifle, and am sprinting across the road before I remember to listen for car motors. Foolish, but luck is on my side, and no jeep patrols are nearby. I run. There is another shrub on the other side of the road, but I am sick of hiding. I need to get away from here, now. I am past the shrub, but there is another good hundred metres or so of open grassland before the foothills of the mountains. I turn my back on the checkpoint and sprint towards the gap. I expect the crack of a rifle at any moment; if the mercenary turns back around, he won’t be able to not see me dashing across the open ground. But the shot doesn’t come. I’ve made it. I dive into the undergrowth and wait another thirty seconds, listening for any shouts that I have been spotted before I gather my nerves and continue towards my objective.
My brother mercenary has no idea how close we both came to death this day.