Tuesday, December 11, 2012

999.7: Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal) 2012

I just finished Far Cry 3.  Now I'm really tempted to rip this game a new one but I'm also trying to separate my love of Far Cry 2 from the equation.  It's not bad game and it weren't a Far Cry game I think I'd be more inclined to like it, maybe.  Frankly I'm wishing I had a copy of Just Cause 2 for some jungle mayhem.

I reckon I'll break this down into a list of good and bad like I normally do.

Good:

  • Playing an FPS that has color in it.  Not the cartoon-y mayhem of the Borderlands series but lots of lush greens, beautiful island paradise vistas, etc etc instead of the standard Soviet-Bloc greys and browns most FPS have these days.
  • Combat is fast and furious.
  • A couple of missions were white-knuckle fun.
  • Hostile wildlife including: sharks, bears, tigers, cassowaries.  There's a big hunting component to the first half of the game (hunt and skin beasties then craft better gear).
  • The first half of the game was a lot of fun.
  • Vaas is an amazing villain, one of my favorites in a long time.  He's actually kind of frightening.
  • The game has a strong exploration component with solid rewards.
  • Liberating outposts is the high point of the game (actually land control is one of my favorite aspects of games).  
  • Weapon control is smooth and responsive.  
  • Stealth can be a deciding factor in combat.  Combined with proper recon and the right gear (gotta love remotely detonated C4 charges) you can turn a would be dire situation into a cake walk.
  • The melee system is really good and I hate melee combat.  
  • The fire mechanics are still awesome.  Peg an enemy with a molotov and watch highjinks ensue as runs around screaming whilst setting the scenery ablaze.
  • A .50 sniper rifle is a monster.  Absolutely devastating in the second half of the game.  Heavily armored opponent?  One shot.  
  • The story took some interesting turns and in the first half of the game is absolutely brilliant.
  • I really liked some of the npcs, particularly one you meet in the second half.
  • Despite some reviews griping about the graphics, I thought it looked nice for a game that was released at the end of a console's lifetime.
  • Skill upgrades represented graphically by an increasingly complex tattoo was an interesting design choice.
Bad:
  • QTE (Quick Time Events).  I realize that this is my age showing but I loathe QTE in games, particularly when they are injected willy-nilly into cut-scenes.  I'm here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, not play Beat Beat Wankervision.  Designers, please, no more QTE.
  • The second half is a let down story wise.  The "big bad" is a compelling character but ultimately has nothing going for him (there is one scene that I went, "Woah, that's kind of  hardcore").  The climax is disappointing and while I see what the developers were going for it seemed heavy handed and trite.
  • Combat in the second half is a joke if you, like me, do all your hunting and crafting in the first half of the game.  Through exploration/collection/liberation of the starting northern island I had all the upgrades and a slew of top-shelf weapons before I set foot in the second part of game.
  • The three "unique" skill trees: Heron, Shark, and Spider are ultimately pointless considering I got all of them unlocked before the end of the game.  If you're going to incorporate individual skill trees then why allow me access to all of them?  Why would I use close combat/heavy weapon skills if I prefer stealth and sniper skills?  Personally I kind of love skill trees and the trend (Skyrim/Borderlands) of rewarding my own play style or allowing me to customize my abilities - even if I can't respec at higher level.
  • Once I managed to get some decent weapons I liked (silenced sniper rifle and C4 are my favorites), I never really felt in danger.  Sure I died and had some pretty intense firefights (one of the best sections of the game stripped me of all my gear and forced me to be a hella sneaky git) but it lacked tension.  
  • The recent trend of being able to buy loot location maps in game turns exploration and the reward of finding stuff into a fairly simple affair.  Yes, I know I don't have to buy the "cheat" maps but it's a temptation I find hard to resist (especially on a rental).  
  • Story missions were, for the most part, sadly linear.  Pretty set pieces but with minimal option for execution and play style preference.
  • While I love land grabbing and liberating outposts and extending my sphere of influence I quickly found that doing so allowed me free reign over areas.  Example: if the enemy holds an outpost then that region is patrolled heavily.  If you get into a firefight, reinforcements show up quickly and you'd better get your running shoes on.  Not so in this game, once you conquer an area you can skip down the road without fear of a jeep full of foes fucking up your day.
  • I basically stuck with the same four weapons the entire game: .50 sniper rifle, RPG, silenced SMG, and flare gun.  All of these I got in the first half of the game, the .50 and SMG were unlocked weapons which were just beasts.
  • I would have been more engaged in the protagonist's character evolution if I had more control over the story.  Choices whether or not to save this person or that, even if it was a detriment/bonus to the story (a la saving the Little Sisters in Bioshock).  Naturally I would have saved everyone but there was no risk/reward involved.  Saving NPCs meant nothing, then again if I had left them to die, meant nothing.  Here's a potential example of what could have been an awesome mission: You infiltrate or storm a holding facility where your friend is kept.  The friend is in no condition to travel and barely able to survive.  Do you do everything you can to save them and make mission completion staggeringly difficult or do you cut your losses, leave them there to die, and have an easier time of escaping?  If you save them you get something awesome and you're a hero to your friends.  If you leave them, you're a shit but the villain will later reward you because you're an evil fucker.  FC3 doesn't do that.      
Why Far Cry 2 was better:
  • Weapons would degrade based on quality and maintenance.  Some weapons were just shitty to start with and would jam after half a clip.  This led to some insane tension in firefights where a weapon would shit out at the worst possible moment, leaving you up the creek, fending off enemies with a spork and a single flare gun round.  
  • Destrucible environment was superior and made for some brilliant engagement planning.  FC3 has this as well but it was more dynamic and responsive in FC2.  A single well placed round in a propane tank could rain holy terror down on foes.  Fire was also much more of a component in FC2 and different environments would burn better than others.  Dense jungle in a rainstorm, fuckin useless.  Dry day on savannah?  Fuego!  FC3 fire burns pretty much about the same everywhere, more or less, in any weather condition.
  • There has to be a middle ground between FC2 and FC3 outpost system.  In 2 outposts would respawn often making every journey a risky gamble.  In 3, you're golden once you've wrested control away.  I am a big fan of the system used in Red Dead Redemption zombie DLC where you would be at risk of losing an area.  Personally I would use a system which required a certain amount of micromanagement as the player's influence grew, more befitting a leader weighed down with responsibility than some uber-mensch ass whoopin his way through an island paradise.  If memory serves, Saint's Row 2 used this system.  It's up to the player to defend his holdings and widen his sphere of influence and power.
  • I wish FC2 and the first half of FC3 stories had a baby.  Hell if the first half of FC3 had been a DLC I would have purged all bodily fluids at once.  The ending of FC2 might have been abrupt but it was fitting. 
FC3 isn't a "bad" game and if you're just looking for some run and gun it's worth renting at least.  I was pretty excited about it and if I had had the money I would have picked it up.  As it is, I'm glad I rented it because there's no way I am gonna play this again.  Frankly I think I might download FC2 for the PC and find out what kind of awesome mods are out there (even though I've played FC2 through three times).
 

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