Warning: Contains spoilers.
Far Cry 2
is set in an unnamed country in contemporary Africa where the nation’s government has recently collapsed, the power vacuum leaving two competing factions vying for dominion over the country. This has led to the stockpiling of weapons and a stream of foreign mercenaries entering the country. If that was not enough, the recent exhaustion of the nation’s diamond mines has made matters worse. The player takes control of a foreign mercenary who has recently arrived to the nation’s northern territory: Leboa Sako. The Mercenary’s mission is simple: find and assassinate a man known as the Jackal: the arms dealer who has supplied both sides. Now, no matter how straight forward and clear cut that may sound I cannot shake the feeling that the person that the Mercenary is hunting is actually… himself.
The Mercenary begins to suffer the effects of a Malaria infection and faints en route to the central town of Leboa-Sako. He awakens alone in a hotel room, suffering with a fever, accompanied by the very man he was sent to kill. He hears gunshots and men shouting outside. There is a battle raging. The Jackal is rummaging through the Mercenary’s belongings. Just as the Mercenary regains the slightest inkling of consciousness; the Jackal begins to speak to the Mercenary. The Jackal attempts to lecture and demoralize the Mercenary. He tells him that the assassination mission is a failure and the great irony of it all is that, due to the Malaria, it is actually the Mercenary that is likely to die. The Jackal then slips out of the building, unharmed and unnoticed, despite the battle that is raging outside the hotel doors.
This first meeting between the Jackal and the Mercenary, and subsequent meetings between the two men, raise certain questions. Despite the fact that the men are destined to be enemies and that their personal survival depends on the death of the other, why is it that they never once attempt to kill one another?
In every instance where the two individuals meet, the only person that sees the Jackal is the Mercenary. On one of these occasions, a faction leader finds the Mercenary in a small building in the middle of the desert. Mere seconds prior to the leader walking through the door, the Jackal slips out the window unnoticed once again, despite the convoy of armed men that waits outside. Why is it that in each and every meeting between the two men, no other individual sees the Jackal besides the Mercenary?
Throughout the game, the Mercenary’s Malaria fluctuates on an incremental scale of high fever to remission. It is interesting to note that prior to instances where the Mercenary meets with the Jackal that the Malaria infection is at its worst. At these times the Mercenary experiences sweats, headaches, and severe fever. It is also not uncommon for people with Malaria to receive brain damage and hallucinations as a result of the infection. Could the Jackal be nothing more than a delusion, a fever induced Malaria hallucination?
I believe that the Jackal and the Mercenary are actually one in the same.
As an arms dealer who has supplied the tools of war for countless African conflicts, the Jackal has been party to the endless cycle of conflict and violence in Africa. He is an accomplice to and has perpetuated the violent atrocities that Africa has suffered as a result of the power vacuum created through departure of the European colonial powers in the 20th century. He has spent years rationalizing what he has done, telling himself that he is a businessman who has merely done what men have been doing for thousands of years: trading one thing for another. He tells himself that he is empowering these people against their oppressors in the First World, people who pay their taxes and fund a war machine to protect their foreign interests.
That is the Jackal one can hear on the taped recordings dispersed throughout Leboa-Sako and Bowa-Seko; The Jackal that is desperately attempting to hold himself together. However, in reality the Jackal is disillusioned by the cycle of violence that he has perpetuated. Seeing the atrocities that unfold around him, he realizes that there is a disconnect between what he must do in order to survive in this environment and what he feels to be morally right in his heart. The result of that disconnect is a split in the Jackal’s personality. As the Jackal battles with his conscience, the persona of the Mercenary emerges.
The Jackal realizes that he is the cancerous cell that is spreading the disease of war and bloodshed across Africa, and must be stopped if there is to be peace. The Mercenary arrives with intent to kill the Jackal and stop the bloodshed. However, this agent of death ultimately fails at his task as the host once again regains control. Perhaps, a man who has spent so long in a constant state of survival can resist his suicidal tendencies. It is at this moment that the Jackal has his first conversation with his alter ego and in doing so reestablishes his dominance over his alternate persona.
“You had your shot but now it's over. And since men like you only work for money, you're no longer my problem. You'll have to find something else to do with yourself now. What your old clients don't seem to understand is that they can't kill me. Do you understand what I'm saying? Nobody kills me. Nobody! I'm the one who decides who lives and who dies. Me! You know, there's a book I read a long time ago. I still think about it every day. It helps me understand life out here. The book talks about men, and what motivates them. It's simple, really. "A living being seeks above all else to discharge its strength. Life itself is will to power. Nothing else matters." So long.”
The Jackal is a strong believer in Freidrich Nietzsche’s Will to Power. By moving past his blind acceptance of his instilled Christian morals and away from the morally void state of survival in war torn Africa, the Jackal enters the realm of Beyond Good and Evil
. Far Cry 2
is about this man’s last attempt to discharge his strength, his will to power, and make an impact on the world, one final struggle against himself and his surroundings.
The Mercenary, however, freed of his mission to assassinate the reforming Jackal is cast to the winds. Without guidance he falls into the hands of the very system that he once sought to bring down. Survival is everything for this man, and in this particular environment, that intrinsic need for self preservation takes this man on a long and dark journey. Far Cry 2
shows this man’s devolution to become the very monster that he once hunted. Rather than bringing an end to this conflict, he joins it and exacerbates the situation.
After realizing what his alter ego is doing, the Jackal makes arrangements to end the conflict once and for all. In order to do so he must subvert the Mercenary. Before the Mercenary can deliver a peace agreement between the two warring factions that would allow them to continue their war in secret, the Jackal strikes those that are about to receive the peace offer and confronts the Mercenary upon his arrival.
“If you're here to help rubber-stamp that cease-fire, you're too late. A peace agreement! What a joke, a comedy act. You think these men wanted peace? They wanted privacy. That is what they wanted. They wanted the world to stop paying attention to them so they could go on with their raping and pillaging, in peace, you see. It's going to stop. I'm going to stop them, and they'll know. They'll be cursing my name when the blood comes spurting out of their necks. And you're not going to stop me. You think I don't know you, what you're about, what you came here to do? Wake up, I used to be you. They're going to think you did this, a dirty mercenary who'll do anything for a payout. That's good. It means the war will start all over again. The real bloodletting has begun. We're going to cure these men of their disease, you and I. We're going to pull it right out of their veins.”
The Jackal realizes that without guidance his alternate persona has followed in his footsteps, and that unless he stops himself the conflict will never end. He cannot fight himself any longer. He cannot shirk what he is, or what he has done. He must come to terms with his past, embrace it and, ultimately, do what is right. At this moment, wrestling with what he is and what he must do, he beats himself unconscious.
The Mercenary awakens in a prison in the south of Bowa-Seko, and makes a desperate escape after hearing the death cries of a fellow prisoner. In his flight for freedom, the Mercenary breaks down prison walls and kills many of the guards. Later, in throws of paranoia the UFLL and APR blame the Jackal for starting an uprising at the jail. These two events are actually one in the same. Only now that the Mercenary has “shown them what a messy, terrible thing it is to kill a man, and has shown them that he relishes in it. He shoots to wound, then executes the wounded, burning them, and taking them in close combat. Destroying their preconceptions of what a man is to becoming their personal monster.”*
It is not mere coincidence that when these men reconvene for a common purpose that they are mistaken for one another. The infamous bloodletter that boils beneath the surface of the Mercenary is arising, and while he may still be able to maintain his individual persona, the line between the two distinct personalities has begun to blur considerably. The unison of the Jackal and Mercenary results in the murder of many faction leaders in both the UFLL and APR, but the deaths of these men are not all it will take to cleanse this land of the disease.
“The only way this is going to work is if we see it the whole way through to the end. Every cell of this cancer has to be destroyed. That includes you, and me. If we don't finish this, then this whole mission has been a waste. A farce. It'll start up again, just like it always does.”
While many of the faction leaders have been killed, an army is still in pursuit of many of the refugees and prisoners fleeing the country. The Jackal devises a plan: one person bribes the border patrol officers with diamonds, as the other cuts off the enemy’s advance. After bribing the border patrol, the Jackal creates an explosion on a rock face that casts shadow upon the only exit of Bowa-Seko. Due to a malfunction in the explosive, the blast claims his life. In this suicidal act he saves countless civilian lives from certain death, whilst destroying every cell of the cancer; thus putting his wrecked conscience at peace, and accomplishing the player’s fundamental and primary mission: to kill the Jackal.