Far Cry 3, or How To Build A Used Game

Nearly every website that has even the simplest idea of gaming has done a Far cry 3 review by now, and covered all the typical stuff, like characters, plot, etc., and some of the basics in terms of what you can expect. in terms of probable gameplay. And, nearly every review I have read has given glowing praise to a game that supposedly deserves “Game of the Year.” Well, I DON’T think that it does. I think the game can be ranked by sections, and I am going to do just that, opinion or not – I stand by this.

 

I’d like to start by making a few points that seems to be constantly ignored in the gaming world: Game developers constantly whine on and on and on about how their ‘games get resold’, and how eye-cryingly tragic it is that they ‘never get any of those profits’. So. Rather than offer incentive (READ: re-playability) they instead piss, moan, whine, gripe about the supposed state of things while denying that their game is pure dreck! Wake up: you cannot punish into desired ‘good behavior’. Build a BETTER GAME. TRY incentives instead. Way to kill purchases, guys. No other industry ever demands profits from used items, why is this even a topic other than “greed?”

That said, on with the “review.”

Campaign: 
The main campaign suffers from far too much hand holding, quick-time event railroading, and linear corridor shoving. It seems as though a pattern has developed over the years of games, and that is “the story, story, story.” Once, long ago, games were made and then a story was added as an afterthought, to hold the pieces and gameplay together, those games were gameplay oriented, not “story oriented.” Gameplay was everything, and story was back-burner. Many of those far older games played better than some modern counterparts due to the freeform aspects of the gameplay, as opposed to the “you cannot step over this line, or you will be punished”, because “we as developers demand that you play this game OUR way.” The attraction to games people have always had is that they can be fun, NOT something ‘called’ fun where someone is actually forcing you to have it THEIR way, go their specific path, or have rigid or arbitrary rule changes partway through (like children do) like some games have had and still do, all in the name of “it’s the story! You MUST play it that way to experience it!!!”

 

Far Cry 3 presents potential game buyers with a promise, and the is a freeform sandbox to play in. The story is linear…so, that’s not it. Co-op is linear, so that’s not it. The map editor is kludgy and tedious, and while it has AI, it’s useless in every way, so that is not it. The main map is the freeform aspect, and there is tons of fun to have here, in fact, so much so that the story, co-op and map making at some point feel like they could have been nearly chopped away and forgotten. Because they are quite forgettable. And lets face it – forgettable entertainment is something I’ll care about…when?

 

Sure, all the effects, graphics and the story is fine, but the means in which it is all offered only serves to blindingly highlight the lessor areas that COULD have been truly great, but instead appear as if it has some non-creative, dirty executive mitts were rubbed all over all over them in a disgusting pornographic fashion. The game PROMISES open sandbox free roam, yet…the campaign DOES NOT deliver on that promise in any way, shape or form. It’s a railroad track from point A, to point Z, and that’s what you get, don’t try to step outside the boundaries – it won’t even let you. It’s a chase from here to there, and suffers from what every FPS does, and that is the rat hallway cheese run. Sure, in the meantime you can mess around free-form like in the map, but that is not the same thing as a freeform ‘campaign’.

 

The fact that a player must travel across the landscape of an “anything can happen” free roam map is obviously situated to make up for this outright stupidity. Why? Because the campaign is a one way trip, and once you have played it, you are OVER IT. Replay value here for campaign = non existent, and it gives buyers another reason to resell their FC3 copy. That’s right, a USED game. Games aren’t just sold because the person cannot afford the next greatest thing – they are also sold because the person realized they purchased a box of walrus pus.

 

I’ll keep the HUD complaints to myself for now, as that is promised to be “fixed” at some point in the future.

 

While much has been said about “white bias” (the character, Jason Brody is saving poor, helpless, defenseless natives, add a African shaman type character and, any number of nationality tropes)  it would have been simple enough to make multiple race character models and let the player choose one, such as mass effect 2 or 3 did. I mean, whose to say who is spoiled in todays’ day and age? (trope!) So. Did they? Nope. So, Developers chose controversy as advertisement instead, again, sacrificing customers. Hello, used game. Is this the buyers fault? Hardly. I would wager some players will avoid a purchase due to the very idea.

Co-op: 
Well, what to do but be scathing about this throwback to a 1990’s mess, that has far too many washed out textures. Disposable story and characters make another forced corridor run an arcadey, generic experience that is only unforgettable because it is so pathetic. Bots spawn in your face and are next to impossible to defeat without four players, so – forget about “options.” Add that the “loadouts” are completely contrary to the way the main game functions, so much so that a player would think that this section was designed and built by a different studio entirely.

 

So, CO-OP also has dirty, filthy moronic executive mitts all over it, and he/she should be fired AND beaten for thinking for even a moment that any fun exists, at all for most people. Rigid borders force players to stay “within the boundaries!” So, tactics are out. Everything is tightly controlled in terms of HOW it will play. Step outside of the lines, and the game ENDS. Add that – it’s just a bunch of bots with the typical boss with a ton of armor at the end, or a mass assault.

 

That is great for COD types…but this game ISN’T that, and whatever moron decided it should be like that SHOULD NOT BE WORKING IN THIS INDUSTRY.”Play our way, or you will be punished” is a real theme in how co-op and the campaign plays out, so get used to the endless repeating suffering until you adjust by learning via failure. Which is, IMO the worst type of game design there is. They must have paid the beta testers in hookers to pass this mess.

 

So, AGAIN, throw away any and ALL freedom, and cram more mess down someone’s throat, as it was offered under the guise of “freedom” and “sandbox”.  It’s actually stupid, redundant, and pointless. I recall recently reading an article in Gamasutra that talked about ‘how hard it was’ to make  “good co-op”. Well…stop over thinking it, and stop forcing layers to do your will. Let them make their own fun. It otherwise creates a throw-away aspect of a game, that makes it a re-sale candidate. (Read: USED!)

 

Map editor, multiplayer: 
I was creating maps back in the original Far Cry on original Xbox, and made many maps. I even had the game for 360, and made maps in that. Point is…more freedom was allowed in those OLD games than is allowed now. While developers SHOUT freedom from the housetops, this game makes darn sure you can’t have it here, either.

No deathmatch, so…not even 4 player battles or more. Everything is now ‘team based’ railroaded ‘do it our way’ games, and NOTHING else. This affects the next part…what’s supposedly IN the ‘map editor’. While AI animals and humans are included – you cannot publish a map that has them in it. Oh, go ahead and save it, but forget about playing it with anyone other than yourself, the person who ALREADY KNOWS WHERE EVERYTHING IS. And, good luck with a  map editing camera that has decided having a war with you is a great idea, battling you every step of the way. Who thought that up?

 

So don’t bother trying to publish or even save the map file (in hopes of emailing to a friend) to a flash drive –your PC cannot see those files. It’s xbox live or else, and if AI is included – it won’t publish anyway. SO, good luck building maps that take several days for no reason – after all, I know you have time to waste, to light on fire.

 

Here UBI might well have well offered deathmatch with AI, and some start end points/completion markers – but instead, chose to prevent that. No, you cannot do co-op this way either, because after all, ANY OF THAT WOULD BE FUN. One can only figure that some higher up (again, I blame executives, because I have experienced them doing just this sort of crap) somewhere is afraid that it might compete with some planned later-to-be-released DLC (that will also suck), and they won’t get their crappy fees.

 

Here was a shining opportunity to redeem the game’s loudly proclaimed  freedom of play environment promise, and develop more emergent gameplay that no other developer has on offer: Letting players (again) make their own fun. And, much would be done for you, developers, and  – it would give buyers yet another reason to KEEP the freaking GAME. As opposed to selling it used, which is what it is looking like right now.

 

Seriously… all that was needed to be done right with single player was to add some story onto the emergent gameplay, as no two stories would have ever played out quite the same. Surely they might have done this, as opposed to wasting so much time on the railroading corridors. Co-op merely needs allow multiple players (even two would have been ok) to play along, Red Dead style in the free form aspect of the map. It would have been fun and great. Since there is already a wonky checkpoint system, and a difficulty level system, why not? Some things like perks could be excluded, no harm done…but…NOPE!

 

Let’s be honest now: 
Game developers build games that will become used games, that have little re-playability value, deliberately. In this case, planned obsolescence means: deliberately make a game that people will quickly get bored with, so they can move on to other stuff. Complain loudly about used games – but keep building things that buyers won’t want to keep. Developers make a concentrated effort. Then they can complain and charge yet more money, because things are “going so poorly.” Forget new ideas. Forget trying something people would enjoy. Keep ramming the same old lousy crap down our throats, ok?

I know it is that way, because otherwise things would be different, now wouldn’t they?

 

But there is a bright spot: Emergent gameplay… 
Frankly, the ONLY thing that saves this whole mess is the main map(s), (2 islands) and freeform gameplay it/THEY offer, on their own. There is lots to do, like racing, shooting competitions, knife throwing, sniping competitions, hunting, boat driving, hang gliding, vehicle driving, swimming, relic or lost item hunting, etc. Add that one must take over pirate outposts to really feel as though any progress is being made, and since there are so many approaches for an outpost due to the method of the design, there is lots of fun to be had here.

 

In fact, it the only real fun, because anything can happen, and there is lots to explore and see. Ironically – the side quests and outpost clearing end up being the main game, where all the fun really is…because the rest of the game on offer is empty of it, IMO. And it offers re-playability, because you never really see the exact thing twice. Maybe the occasional event. The main maps offer an “anything can happen” situation, and that creates fun, because many events or situations are unexpected. More fun with co-op, I am sure (if it had that). Does it have to offer 4 players? Not really.

 

I had two experiences recently that I will use to elaborate on my point here:

(1) I snuck above a camp (my usual recon method) and got the high ground on a mountain, where they could not get me (too steep to climb, I always look for an advantage) and sniped them all, and went down to check my prize (loot, base, etc.) As sometimes happens, there were some wild dogs nearby, and these came running into the outpost (5 or more) just when a native jeep pulled up into the outpost. SO, all hell breaks loose, and dogs are getting shot and running everywhere, everyone is freaking out, (like, 7 AI rebels) and since the jeep had a mounted machine gun…well…first a acetylene tank got hit, and went whooshing off at a 10 o’clock angle skyward. Then something hit a fuel barrel, then that hit…I actually yelled “WHOA!” really loudly, because the jeep exploded, and then the stuff really started exploding …did I forget to mention it was a gas station outpost? Man, I never saw so much explode at the same time in any game that I wasn’t the cause of, or was a scripted event.

 

(2) I again snuck up a mountain, (what are the odds?) and got the really high ground, above the base. Coming down on the other side of the mountain, I found myself at the top of some very large, lengthy overhanging rock, where, it sort of made a cave underneath. I was probably about 40 feet above them or so….or, maybe 60. So, I scout around with the camera…dogs, alarm, snipers, tiger…hmmm… {idea!}

 

So. I silently snipe the first sniper, who is quite a bit off from the others to the right, and no one notices. Then, with no direct sniper to worry about, I snipe the alarm, so it’s worthless = no reinforcements. Then.  heh heh heh…I release the tiger, by shooting the lock off the cage door. So, I can see the tagged tiger – he runs right under the rock area (under me, where I can’t see except by tagging stuff with the camera) and  ‘ol Tige’s takes out the other sniper – the 2 dogs below are in an uproar, and…*pffhht!* I take one out, ‘cause I got Tige’s back. A pirate starts shooting his AK at the tiger, but…*pffhhht!* Not anymore. Tige’s takes out a dog and another pirate….and… the outpost is mine. Sorry Tige’s…my guys are rollin’ in. It was good while it lasted, guess you gonna make a nice ammo belt.

 

Point is – it didn’t have to play out like that. There are any number of other ways it might have, and one can only try them to find out.

 

What I really like is there are many vehicles to use, like gunboats, jetskis, gliders, trucks, jeeps, quads, cars, etc. And ziplines. And passive and predatory AI animals and humans. This part of the game is extremely freeform, and is a crowning achievement is advancing the modern FPS. Too bad the story, co-op, and map editor are all junk.

 

And, IMO, the main map is the only part they got right. So, great job with that…it’s a real groundbreaker in terms of what was accomplished. Too bad you lost your soul and didn’t complete the masterpiece, it had real promise.

 

No wonder developers are so hot to push all digital. Once you buy it, you are stuck with it.

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