Far Cry 3 – A Critique

Touted as an open-world shooter Far Cry 3 is a pretty long way from that. It is a sprawling environment that has little change. Mountainous tropical Pacific island with ruined Japanese fortifications from World War 2 and thoroughly despicable antagonists (slavers and drug dealers who are exterminating the natives) has little variety. It is really an updated Far Cry 2 with many of the same play elements but beefed up for the latest console players’ expectations.

Your character, Jason Brody, is a fantastically tough and mobile “natural with a gun” who is seeking to rescue his enslave friends before they can be ransomed, but sold off into slavery after the money is collected.

The writing of plot attempts edginess with quotes about sanity and the lack thereof from Alice in Wonderland: a favourite of shallow-writers attempting to be deep. Nietzsche would be a better source than the opiate riddled classic by an English diletante. All the writing really conveys is the shallow understanding that psychopaths/sociopaths cannot be reasoned with and attempting to is the definition of insanity; attempting the same thing expecting different results.

Some tribal magic loosely inspired by the Maori as Rakyat has a classic Serious Sam like monster encounter complete with closed arena and sprawling mass area attacks being put out whilst the monster must be struck in only one area. This kind of tired arcade trope should have died last century. For a game that claims originality it only manages to do a tried formula in fiction of having thoroughly hate-able antagonists, with a protagonist that has the abyss he stares into, look deeply back into him.

Still, the killing and jingoistic patriotism not so subtly veneered behind laconic humor is apropos for the USA audience and the thinly veiled un-PC snappy lines attempt an edginess that would be successful on all the minors who ought not be playing this game.

Game-play is polished to simplicity. There is a lack of leaning, replaced by context based “peek-a-boo” shooting conveyed to the played by the gun being lifted when close to an object – no slicing the pie and using lean in this game. Far Cry 3 successfully captures the kinetic fear of combat with an AI that will flank you well but it fails to suspend disbelief with spawn-behinds and impossible reinforcements, just like its predecessor.

Open-world is often only while you are not on a mission. It’s for this reason I have to say the game promoters are lying when they say it is open-world. It simply is not. If you are mid-mission you cannot leave the mission area without the mission auto-failing. Also if you stray to far from the islands you are locked into you will die auto-magically. This is like playing D&D with a 12 year old who can’t ad-lib, or a philosophy lecturer who gets upset with you not buying into her false dichotomies presented as moral paradox.

Morality is loosely touched on but there is no ramifications for actions in this game apart from auto-magical results. Ultimately it is a hint of a flavour but never really brought to the forefront. Many sequences intended to shock the player are better off left as a scripted cut-scene, in particular the torture of the younger brother, and the vanishing antagonists whom you are forced to work with become tiresome very quickly.

Far Cry 3 has many failings mostly with what the promoters claim it is meant to be. If presented as a frenetic shooter with visceral elements to build tension and a plot that has despicable enemies you will really want to take-out, then that would be accurate. Its open-world elements are limited to in-between missions and ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, though, it is an addictive experience because the AI is smart enough to be a challenge, the exploration rewarding enough to pursue, and the combat frenetic enough to be engaging. The main missions are a let down and if Far Cry 3 had a “non-story mode” it’d be a far better offering.


Far Cry 3 – A Critique

STALKER Call of Pripyat: Journal of Collington Splatterov

Entry One

The OSS put me on the mission. I guess it was because when I retired I went into the zone to seek my fortune. I didn’t find it, to be blunt, and went back to the OSS. Now I’m chasing these five crashed choppers.

Zaton: swampy river between two limestone ranges. The Volga is almost dry at the moment.

water volga

I make my way through a cloudy morning with soft breeze and gently swaying grasses to see the area before me. According to the PDA three choppers are crashed in this area.

arrival in the zone

A scan of the area to my south with binoculars picks up some movement. The optic system frames the movement and frames it to indicate distance. About 200metres away there are some trees where two stalkers are resting. I approach and one, probably senior since he’s decked out with better kit than his comrade, waves me over. We chat briefly, guarded, hands carefully staying away from our weapons.

first contact

"Heard some choppers crashed recently."

"Yeah. I saw one go down into the Iron Forest; a power substation. There’s a poltergeist in there. Likes to force its victims into the electric anomalies. I doubt anyone survived that crash."

"OK. Thanks."

"You should go to Shedovsk. Its that barge to the south. There’s a friendly camp there and a safe place. Traders, a technician, booze and even a doctor, although they call him Tremor. Hahah."

"Will do. What are you doing here?" I ask, meaning at this time.

"Never you mind." He answers and I take my cue to leave.

Walking away about 200 meters I take out my PDA and check my location agains the sat-image. Seems I’m about 1km from this barge and about 500meters from a burnt out farm. haven in a wrecked barge

The farm looks like its been ravage by anomalies. Probably some artifacts. I should head over, try find a rad-dampener, or at least something to sell for a better weapon than this AKSU. Off I go, taking it easy, keeping quiet.

burnt farmstead

My neck prickles and a giant hog mutant is grunting as it attacks some stalkers. Unwilling to fire into their melee I approach.A flesh, those ugly cowardly things that look like man-pigs with long twisted legs, also attacks in support of the hog. The stalker in the hiking jacket goes down. I am about to fire when the other stalker takes out the flesh. Then the hog takes him down and he moans as he falls. The hog comes straight for me but it’s limping. I finish it with my Honorary PMm.

No time for sentiments so I loot the bodies and find some ammo, med-gear, rad-recovery and bandages. Quickly, I leave the scene, heading towards the burning farmhouse. I’ve got an ECHO detector and figure I’ll see if there are any artifacts.

I’m cautious. I still think that the zone is the deadliest place on Earth. Heading up the hill I come at the farmhouse from the north where it is less exposed. As I close on it the heat-haze shimmers and currents of hot air flick embers about. It makes me breathe faster and I struggle to keep relaxed enough to move quickly.

ECHO detector and bolts ready: picking my way into the anomalies I pick up a signal on the ECHO. Suddenly blind-dogs are growling and rushing me. They make it through the burners and don’t even get singed. I squeal in fright and open up on them with the AKSU. They try to circle me and I empty my magazine. No time to reload I whip out my knife but it rips into my leg then keeps running. There’s only one left and I lash out with the blade: the blind-dog yelps, whimpers and bleeds out in front of me. I struggle with the bandages. My hands are slick with blood.

A quick sit down and I’ll be okay. Damned I’m hungry. I chow down on some bread and diet sausage looted from the unfortunate stalkers. It’s pretty good but I’m so hungry anything would be good.

There’s a thunderclap and heavy rumbling. I didn’t notice any storm clouds. My PDA crackles with a broadcast.

"All stalkers in the area. There is an emission coming. Take cover. There is an emission coming."

What he really means is a blow-out. One of those rad-psi waves that kill most things caught in the open.

I look at the farmhouse but they’ve got no roofs. I head south towards the barge I saw earlier. My leg is still painful from the blind-dog’s snapping jaws. As I limp along I check the PDA and its map. Better run. I’m carrying too much. I drop the sawn-off and the battered AKSU. A tug is alongside the barge and there’s a plank leading on to the barge’s deck. I run up there. The sky is turning red and lightning is lashing the hill I was just standing on.

 bridge of wrecked barge

I’m not sure where to go. My Geiger counter is starting to sound like munching gravel it’s ticking so fast. I take some rad-recovery and run up to the bridge. The door is rusty and hard to open. My head is lolling to one side as I fall into the cabins behind the bridge. Someone swings the door shut and I hear the crows fall out of the sky as the blow-out rolls over us.

STALKER Call of Pripyat: Journal of Collington Splatterov