Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 is decent game in the genre of stealth murder, but it gets tiresome. I didn’t bother getting even half of the collectibles. I snagged all the skill & inventory upgrades, unlocked the quick-travel locations, and then decided that I didn’t need a few hundred figurines of sharks and boars. I felt a little sorry for my protagonist leaving the island with a permanently unfinished tattoo, but what did he really do to earn my sympathy, anyway?

The story is a bit embarrassing to sit through at times. Long before playing it, I had read talk about how it was a story with unreliable narration, the main character’s white male Avatar fantasy and so on, and I expected to see signs of this as I played. But it felt indistinguishable from just being an uncritical fantasy for the gamers. Hearing that the writers were rolling their eyes while writing it doesn’t really make something good satire, or a good commentary on other games. And they did definitely make a game primarily to waste peoples’ time, whether they wanted to or not.

The jokes were also pretty insufferable. The item descriptions were like a stereotypical hack’s stand-up routine idea of comedy: imagine a hundred jokes like “This gun is cheap and loud! Like my ex-wife!” but with less irony or deliberate heavy-handedness. The DLC mission dialogue consisted largely of the protagonist saying internet memes. At least it can be said that the cinematic presentation is several steps above Far Cry 2, where it sounded like the voice actors were instructed to talk as fast as possible. Maybe they wanted to reduce disk space for the audio files. Oh, what a time to be alive.

Climbable Viewpoints were lifted from the Assassin’s Creed team, although not such a great fit in an FPS. Driving is too awkward for real challenges, so the supply drop racing quests are usually simple, easy, and unfulfilling. At times they would give me a minute to run over a few hills and I’d finish with more than twenty seconds to spare. I wasn’t even particularly good at it.

I missed the hand-held maps from Far Cry 2 that I didn’t have to wait a couple seconds to open or pause the action for. There’s a minimap, useful for getting a sense of the immediate surroundings, but not for following the roads. No road signs, either.

I was glad to see the return of a few Far Cry 2 features, like snapping bones back into place and guard stations, which are the best time to put the stealth mechanics into practice. But the stealth-killing skills are almost never the most feasible way to achieve a goal. Throwing rocks to distract guards is interesting for a bit, but it’s almost always more effective to get somewhere high with a silenced sniper rifle and just shoot everybody before they find you. As I noted with Saints Row IV, there comes a time where you stop trying to do things the fun way because it’s so much easier and better-rewarded to do things the simple way.

The game manages to be playable without the option of quicksaving, but I found that the huge experience bonus and comparative painlessness of ghosting an outpost were significant enough that I often just suicided by throwing grenades at my feet to reload from an autosave if I was ever seen. I think eliminating the experience bonus would have been wise, as that might have alleviated some of that pressure. Enemies also should have hit the alarm if they saw a dead body, perhaps two, regardless of whether they saw the person who killed them. That would’ve eliminated the long-distance sniper rifle cheesing. To balance this out, stealth would have been better if the player had the freedom to scale all sorts of walls, not just ones with vines or ropes dangling off the sides. The player also should have been able to move enemy corpses after shooting them.

The animals are a fun addition, particularly when you hear some off-screen enemy shouting “Holy shit! It’s a komodo dragon!” and then dying before you ever even see them. They’re honestly more often the player’s ally than enemy, and they ultimately contribute to the unfortunate feeling that the game is reluctant to seriously challenge its players. Sometimes a tiger jumps on your face, though, and that’s pretty cool.

Overall, the game is more enjoyable to play than Far Cry 2, but not much better of a game. I liked Vaas, and I liked playing Poker with Hoyt. There wasn’t much else. The hallucinations and various other sequences seem incredibly unoriginal at this point in the history of AAA games. I felt like I had more control than I did in Tomb Raider, but just barely. I especially didn’t like the game saying I “failed” and then reloading because I strayed too far from the bounds of a quest marker, which didn’t seem especially urgent. I also had to listen to repeat dialogue after loading a save or failing a QTE sequence. It’s that sort of game.

Blood Dragon
The Blood Dragon standalone expansion plays largely the same as the original Far Cry 3, but it’s cheaper and shorter, which made it less likely to overstay its welcome. But its cutscenes drag on a little long without being very funny. Lampshade hanging isn’t funny either, and it does that quite a bit. Instead of making your character say “I want to kill whoever thought this would be fun,” maybe don’t put that thing in your game. It’s much funnier in its random guard dialogue and the text on mission descriptions, loading screens and so on. But it doesn’t improve on Far Cry 3 much, and its streamlining in skills and weapons ends up making the game feel a little too simple. I’ve reviewed the games together because I’ve decided they deserve the same score, which is the same score I gave Far Cry 2.

The reviewer believes this game stands above total mediocrity. It has something going for it, but ultimately few real merits. Most of the time, it isn’t fun, and doesn’t otherwise provide any sort of emotional payoff. Even though it does some cool things, you should play something else instead.
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