You know how there are games that you really like? And then there are those games that you really hate? Well, White Gold is one of those that makes you love it to pieces, and then 1 hour later, you'll become so frustrated with it that you just want to toss your monitor out of the window.
For me, at least, it was a "love-hate" relationship. This should have been the Far Cry 2 that wasn't, but it didn't successfully hit the mark all the time. And yet when it does, it's absolutely stunning, and plays like that dream, non-linear game you've been waiting for your whole life. It's not halfhearted in the sense that every feature's not up to snuff; rather, you get some features that are stupefyingly awful, only to find yourself deeply engrossed the next moment.
Since Gamersgate reviews have word limits (they cut off your review abruptly), I'll just do a tl;dr version of this. Graphically, the game wows at times, and fails at others. Diving into the deep blue can be fascinating when you behold creatures of the deep all around you, and even a dolphin (shark? didn't manage to catch it) in one particular quest. Flying a helicopter as the sun sets is also nothing short of picturesque. And yet, you will not miss ye olde graphical glitches like texture overlaps and people that look the same.
The sounds are even worse off, being either too soft, gratingly repetitive, or both. The gunfire sounds are alright, but the voices and vehicle sounds have a tendency to just suddenly cut off, or become non-existent at will. The only saving grace for this are the gunfire sounds and the decent music.
AI is pretty good, but sometimes they'll just stand around and look elsewhere even when they know your position. Otherwise, they do a rather good job of rushing you and evading your gunfire (Indians with spears)) or running around taking cover (enemies with guns).
The story is rubbish. Translation is a joke, literally. At first, it was just awful to read and I skipped through most of it. Later, I learned to appreciate the hilarity of the dialogues ("Relax brother, no shmalyay!" "I went there, hence got neurosomething")
Now for the gameplay...ahhh...where to begin...the perks that you gain when leveling up are horribly unbalanced, but some are fun, such as the night vision and double jump. Some quests are awful and tedious, especially the Fedex quests ("give me item X" or "talk to Y for me"), while some are brilliant (escaping a prison). But, the one thing many have in common is, they're glitched. Some can't be completed due to being broken (for every quest, you HAVE to complete the first objective to move on to the next, but there are a few that can't be completed); there are some which are impossible to understand due to poor translation; and so on. Vehicle controls and physics are absolutely balls (though I found the aerial vehicles quite fun to drive, even the seaplane).
The gunplay is excellent though. Initially, you will find yourself taking cover, making silent kills, sneaking around. Later, when you get the fast runner perk, you'll zip around and quickly find the good cover spots to take down the enemy. It's too bad there's only a limited selection of guns, and most items you find are merchant-wares too.
Levels are rarely linear, until you reach the last few levels, where they feel rushed and unfinished (the barge level was the silliest of all. Not going to spoil anything here, you'd have to play it for yourself to understand the idiocy of the level design there). Many, however, are really well designed. You can travel anywhere in the game world at your own leisure, and explore some beautiful locales (underwater cave!), skydive from a great height to land on a good sniping position, etc etc.
Like I said, this should have been the Far Cry 2 that wasn't. It's really a good game, buried beneath an innumerable layer of glitches. Flying trikes (repair the wheels of a trike to see what happens), occasionally getting stuck on small steps, stairs that behave more like slides, incomplete features (guns that were never added in)...it goes on and on. It begs the question on whether the developers actually had any QA testing going on at all. Sometimes, this game feels like a 2* game; then it surprises you with 5* production values, and then dips down again after that.
Gets a wavering 3.5* for me, rounded off to 4 (I'd really like to give it higher than that, but I'd be lying; and I'd also like to give a lower score than that, but I can't bring myself to).