Random thoughts on Far Cry 3

I wanted to love Far Cry 2, but the difficulty level, the forever breaking down weapons, the fucking check points… too much realism for my taste. Incredible game world, superb engine, lot of great ideas but as often, building an engine and a game hand in hand, rarely results in a great end product.

So Far Cry 3 has the same engine base, but mostly new people and a sort of a Ubisoft dream team with the Creative Director being Patrick Plourde (Assassins Creed 2 and Brotherhood) and Jeffrey Yohalem (writer of AC2 and Brotherhood) handling the writing duties.

What is gameplay?

Is it… 34/34, 14/14, 120/120, 20/20 ? Ie. completing tons of tasks to get that 100% completion rate. Is that what is gameplay and enjoyment these days? Is doing all that shit fun at all?

Is it us gamers who have this annoying completionist streak and we have to get every collectible and complete all side missions? There’s so damn many in Far Cry 3 that it made me sick to look at the map with all the side missions on it. I know I have to complete all those side mission. In reality, I dont, but I have to or I dont have piece of mind. So I grind through them and get tired of the game, but not the actual game.

That’s what I was thinking when I was playing. Like, what is the actual fun in the game and the core gameplay? When do I play the actual, real game, the story missions? Why couldn’t I simply concentrate on playing just those? I’m not sure. Part of is that you get a lot of help by completing the side missions. Hunting gives you the capability to carry far more ammo and weapons, so you sort of have to do them to be able to complete the story missions without too much pain.

I have no real answers, so let’s talk about other aspects of Far Cry 3.

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Am I cry?

It’s a great game.

I like the heavy feel of the movement and the combat. The combat is so much better than before; it’s really satisfying and you have so many different type of weapons to use, but it’s all about the scenarios.

I did have a lot of fun taking over the guard posts. These typically have anywhere between 5-10 enemies. The more harder to reach area’s guard posts tend to have snipers, heavily armored soldiers and also enemies who run to the alarm’s when they are under fire.

So…you can sneak in, kill enemies stealthily, snipe them from afar, ride into the compound with a jeep and hope to drive over enemies, throw grenades into the camp…just so many ways to get rid of the enemies. I tended to snipe from afar, I’m sure most people do that since it’s easiest. Back in the day, I would have spent time in trying lots of different methods, but these days it’s fuck it, let me get done with this game as quickly as possible and I sure hope the checkpoint system is a good one. Sad, but true. ADHD. I did try using the flamethrower and molotovs a few times to box in the enemies and then just watch them burn (merry christmas), but most of the time I ended up burning myself up.

So, this one time at (band) camp…I let loose a bear or a tiger from it’s cage and it proceeded to, absolutely, positively, kill every motherfucker in the room! That was awesome. Freeing the caged animals has seemingly rather random chance of success in terms of them attacking enemies, but when they do it’s pretty awesome to roll into the camp while the pirates are fighting off a badly animated tiger and I’m serving up some flamethrower action! A few times I ran into the camp with a tiger or some other crazed animal on my tail. Fun times.

The propagating fire is pretty cool too and surely one of these gameplay mechanics that could be expanded so much more on next-gen consoles with much more memory to play around with.

Story

I like the rich kids get in trouble angle of the story and some of the digital acting, especially Vaas is truly great. The whole issue with the “open world do whatever you want games” is pretty clear with Far Cry 3. After hours of messing around on the island and doing side missions, I felt like how come this story aint moving, where the fuck is Vaas and why is my character not talking so much?

It’s because I wasn’t doing the story missions, of course. Pacing a game is tough when the player has so much freedom.

When you do actively follow the story missions, the actions and the characters feel better because you are around them more. Still, while Vaas is great, Hoyt is a bit too cliche and I would have liked a bit more interaction with your rescued buddies back at the cave. Sitra is a bit distant too and not enough of a relationship evolves with her and the lead character, though of course they do fuck, which I thought was cool as it was casual in the game.

The lead character moves from a pretty boy into a killer pretty fast, but then again, this is a video game and also… us humans turn into animals pretty damn fast, so I can live with that.

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The world

It’s hard to put my finger on it, just how they did it, but the game world is massive. I think it’s too big for it’s own good, but the amazing thing is that traversing the world is fast even on foot. Sure, you can run all the time, but you have miles and miles of enviroments to play in, yet I always felt relatively close where I was supposed to be. A big part of this is the excellent road system and of course, the quick travel options, which get you around the island fast. Still, I would often rather run than drive, because it felt faster to move that way.

The design work here is really cohesive and great, which must have been very difficult considering just how massive the two islands are. One really awesome thing is that you know often how in these types of games when you have to find something on the map and you get near the point where the treasure etc is…you are on the wrong side of the mountain etc.

Going around seems like it would take long and it’s annoying. In Far Cry 3, you always tend to be able to find a way up or past the mountains and similair obstacles without having to spend minutes and minutes finding an alternative route. The graphics make it pretty easy to see where you can run up and where you cant, so you dont end up spending a lot of time getting frustrated by not being entirely sure if you can get up at this point or not.

I was a bit bummed by the fact that when I tried to travel to the other island with a boat, the game just resets me and sends me back the way I came. I get it from a technical and story stand point, but it felt really jarring and pretty disappointing.

Island worth vacationing ?

What the game does great is to combine all these systems and most of the systems are quite good and polished to a good level. The gunplay, the core of an fps most of the time, feels great and accurate. The AI and enviroments often present a lot of scripted and lot of unscripted surprises and fun. The visuals are good, the acting often great and some of the characters are excellent. The UI could be better though. You always have to go into the main pause menu to make the “power up syringes” and equipping is pretty painful. I could live with the system, but it should have been better.

Above all, despite way too many side missions, I had fun with this game. It transported me into another world, it offered relatively polished campaign missions and some pretty funny moments with animals!

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