From vampire to mercenary– I don’t think it’s a step up. I picked up Far Cry 2 again, and I have to say, this is one beautiful country.
Really, despite the fact that it takes place in a very sunny country, it’s a much darker game than Vampire TMB. You can take missions from the two contending factions, all of which involve murdering people. For a change, in order to get your malaria pills, you can take missions from a local priest. I just did one of those, and killed at least a dozen people along the way (mostly checkpoint dudes, which much be about the suckiest job for an NPC, outside “Hostage of the Really Evil Dude” and “Guy Who Sends One Adventurer After Another After the Lowest-ranked Mobs”).
I do think the game mechanics get in the way of the game somewhat. To an extent it’s valid and cool for a game to require some effort to take care of the details: acquiring health and ammo, getting around, buying guns. But it does kind of take up half the game here. To get to a mission always requires taking out checkpoints (or barreling through them, which puts some angry armed dudes on your tail), while to get a new unjammed gun also takes a whole side mission. (You can take the angry dudes’ guns, but they’ll suck.) I’m out of rocket launcher ammo, and I have no idea where to get that, except that it’ll be another trip.