Community Soapbox: Far Cry 3 is a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection of mechanics from other games

Far Cry 3 and Borderlands

By on December 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

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Everyone I have seen dive into Far Cry 3 (both on YouTube and my real life — with a pulse — friends) picks it up so quickly. The familiarity of the entire experience has been realised perfectly by the Ubisoft team — in fact, as I delved deeper into the ‘insanity’ of Far Cry 3 I started to feel a little too familiar with the game mechanics, to the point of of déjà vu. Far Cry 3 does not feel like its own game. It feels like a Greatest Hits collection of the mechanics from other games, and not a lot of its own IP.

Guard outposts are a big element of the (mostly) optional side of FC3 that has seen massive overhaul from its predecessor. You capture an area by killing all the humans and animals and it becomes yours forever and, in addition to clearing an outpost, the enemies in the surrounding area are replaced by allies (sans rare random encounters and a few static placements).

This feels like a little of Red Faction: Guerilla but mostly like inFAMOUS. They have nailed the inFAMOUS take on the mechanic so flawlessly, that it then becomes damn hard work to find enemies that are not animals, with the exception of story-related missions, in which the NPCs act as if no outposts have been taken in the first place. Unfortunately for FC3, inFAMOUS made it more interesting by varying the requirements to clear and hold an outpost. Luckily for us, that is not all that has changed with guard posts in FC3.

Okay, so you have shot some people at the outpost from afar and achieved bonus experience — now, welcome to Borderlands. Did anyone else exclaim: “Really?! A weapon vending machine?!” when they set foot in that first mission-captured guard house? What about the bounty board with obligatory NPC next to it, who exists for the sole purpose of telling you about the bounty board instead of actually assigning missions himself? Despite what I type on these forums, I actually do appreciate human contact, and it boggles my mind when games go out of their way to minimise even the simulated variety.

Hell: even the achievement system that unlocks bonuses, the random loot in loot containers, the enemy classes (normal, sniper, charger and heavy — or should I say bandit thug, bandit killer, psycho and bruiser) and the psychic knowledge of your foe’s class from a distance feels a touch Borderlandian. It is a good thing this title is more than just an outpost-clearing simulator, otherwise it would be pretty boring. Let’s go see the world!

Wait. Digital map? With fast travel points? That I can only see 20 km2 of? Where did my Far Cry 2 paper map and GPS go? I know I have a physical map, as Dennis stood beside me to look at it when I pressed ‘M’. So, for some reason (voodoo, clearly), my physical map is illegible until I climb a radio tower to ‘synchronise’ the foreseeable surroundings. Oh, Ubisoft even include leaps-of-faith and GPS way-pointing. Hopefully I don’t even need to mention what franchise that is yanked straight out of (with not the same effect, I might add).

And speaking of new map features, if the fast-travel points in this game do not reek of Skyrim I do not know what does. Oh! Wait, I do know what does: the optional side quests.

“Hey, buddy: so you are terrified and what to know if the only people in this world that you care about are alive? And want to get off this hell hole as soon as humanly possible, aye? Then surely you would not mind doing this mindless task number fifty-seven for me so I can rest a little easier, even if time is of the essence and every second you delay could mean their death? Thanks, bud!”

It seems that NPCs (those that are not scripted, anyway) are as useless as their Tamrelian counterparts. Although, to give them some credit, it appears they are not altogether useless as each and every human enemy with a gun has seemingly had access to Kojima’s top secret Metal Gear Solid AI (not the La-li-lu-le-lo’s: the other kind). I would put money down that beta builds of FC3 even had miniature exclamation points appear above their heads.

But jokes aside, one very disappointing element of this title is occasionally you are met with the kind of immature and inane writing you would expect to find from the facepalm-inducing Postal developers at Running with Scissors than the pure and noble Ubisoft. A juvenile in-game handbook that you are directed to every time you come across something new is saturated with descriptions so jejune they are pointless in their inclusion — where it is not vague and/or unhelpful, it is sarcastic and/or facetious. Not to mention, anyone lucky enough to pick up the shiny and yet rugged Insane Edition will be greeted by some grade-ten kid’s social science project, poorly passed off as a survival manual. It is from you: Jason (from the future), to you, Jason (in the present, I think). The ‘Face Your Insanity Guide’ even starts off with this literary gem: “Who I am isn’t important. You can call me Jason.”

It is hard to describe to someone what Far Cry is now without being too generic. The first game did not have anything that was terribly innovate, but it was a straight-up action game and a very decent one at that. The trip to Africa in the sequel made the title more gritty, and introduced the dirty elements of combat with a hint of survival. To me, the third instalment feels like both of these games and yet neither, all in the one breath. A good deal of game reviewers brought the point forward that FC2 had all the elements to be a classic title but failed to put all the pieces in the right order — especially in regards to a few choice mechanics.

It is a shame, then, that Ubisoft have opted to take us down a nostalgic route of tried and true mechanics, instead of building on what they had to begin with.

I have always felt that the real hook of Far Cry as a series is that it is an FPS in a remote and unforgiving location — but all this game gives us is arcade FPS sensibilities in a beautiful island paradise (and a tiny one at that, coming in at about 25 km2, which is disappointing). Bus terminals are replaced by instant, everywhere fast-travel; buddy death-saves are replaced with a rinse-and-repeat death/save cycle; hand-held map and GPS where you could, mentally, plot your course by landmarks are replaced with a digital, pausing, way-point enabling map; weapons durability and jamming are replaced with Crysis-grade perfecto-guns (on an island where you are unable to acquire clean undies); and realistic animal distribution is replaced with “OH GOD, THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!” to name a few I have noticed along the way.

Above all, what really gets my goat and grinds its gears is the fact that, despite all I’ve written above (plus the 1,000 words of rant I cut out)… Far Cry 3 is fun. It’s so much fun, that I have not spent a good deal of time playing any other video games since I first opened the shrink wrap on the Insane Edition.

And really, at the end of the day, regardless of whatever we think is right or wrong about this game, there will always be mods to change it all and make us all happy.

Editor’s Note: Yes, PinothyJ did originally submit his Soapbox article in entirely blue text.

24 comments (Leave your own)

And I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling kids…

 

ha, reminds me heaps of my Far Cry review. Plenty of things that just seemed ridiculous or stupid, but I still enjoyed the game immensely.

 

I was having too much fun to notice any of these non-issues :P

 

Yep, it feels like they could have done a lot more on the survival aspect, but I still enjoyed it. (no always on DRM means Ubisoft get my money again)

I found medkits were way too easy to obtain. There was never any point in the game where I struggled for health while playing the hardest setting. You can even buy them for just $100 off the vendor.

I think that instead of being able to make you get more health from the medkits, you should have learned how to make better ones which require more plants.

I really hope someone manages to mode Far Cry 3 with more survival aspects. Something a but more like STALKER or even Day Z. Having to scrounge for food and medical supplies, etc. Add some suspense to combat.

 

“a tiny one at that, coming in at about 25 km2, which is disappointing”

Seriously not sure when 25 square kilometres of completely in-game space in a FPS became ‘tiny’ but I honestly find this a bizarre faux-complaint. How much in game space do we bloody need these days? I feel the entire game could have been put on a map one quarter of the size and the core experience would have stayed largely the same… you’d just have a whole lot less walking.

Then your complain about having too much fast travel… so am I to understand that you want to spend large chunks your time in the game walking to every single objective/hunt? If the game was 4 times the size at 100 square kilometres, would that be deemed enough in your jungle running simulator? Walking or driving several kilometres across a map does not equal fun gameplay

 

“What about the bounty board with obligatory NPC next to it, who exists for the sole purpose of telling you about the bounty board instead of actually assigning missions himself? Despite what I type on these forums, I actually do appreciate human contact, and it boggles my mind when games go out of their way to minimise even the simulated variety.”

This reminds me exactly of my one and only visit to the ING Direct branch in sydney, which consisted of a wall of phones, and a single ‘teller’ whos only response to any question was “please use one of the phones and ask the operator”

 

trittium:
“a tiny one at that, coming in at about 25 km2, which is disappointing”

Seriously not sure when 25 square kilometres of completely in-game space in a FPS became ‘tiny’ but I honestly find this a bizarre faux-complaint. How much in game space do we bloody need these days? I feel the entire game could have been put on a map one quarter of the size and the core experience would have stayed largely the same… you’d just have a whole lot less walking.

Then your complain about having too much fast travel… so am I to understand that you want to spend large chunks your time in the game walking to every single objective/hunt? If the game was 4 times the size at 100 square kilometres, would that be deemed enough in your jungle running simulator? Walking or driving several kilometres across a map does not equal fun gameplay

Well that was unnecessarily aggressive…

 

Serious guy is serious. Doesn’t like humour.

I laughed at some of the handbook entries. Obviously you have sand in your vagina and don’t like fun.

QQ.

 

I barely ever use the fast travel if the destination is within reasonable distance. At the beginning I did, but jumping into a vehicle resulted in a trip so short that I would just be starting to enjoy the ride when I arrived at (or went straight past) my destination. It’s good to have them there for when I can’t be bothered though.

Medical syringes and cash are way too easy to aquire though. I much preferred the way you had to hunt down water bottles in FC2 to refill bars of lost health, It made enemy encounters a lot more challenging when you can’t just heal up mid-combat. Cash flows out of my ears and is nowhere near the scavenge for diamonds that was in FC2.

I too dislike the way the map is done. Showing you nothing at all, or everything there is to know. FC2 was fun looking at the map and trying to spot out places where there might be enemy encampments, then exploring the suspected area to discover the icon on the map. It was also more fun having to watch the little blip dot for nearby loot IMO. I really enjoyed hunting down all the diamonds in FC2, although I did use online maps to get a rough idea of where to look.

My biggest gripe though has got to be the graphics and environment. It doesn’t look bad by a long shot, but just seems so bright and colorful alomst as if I’m in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Then the way that objects and textures materialize in front of you as if they were transmitted there by Wonkavision.

The only graphical parts so far that I’ve enjoyed as much as I did in FC2 are the cave runs, underwater parts and the ‘trip’ sessions.

I really hope in the upcoming UI patch that they let you hide the white arrows of enemies that can see you. Or better yet, create a more hardcore survival difficulty with reduced cash, no enemy indications apart from ones tagged with the binocs appearing on the minimap, slow regenerating from medical syringes, AI that can track bullet trajectory (like FC2) and fan out toward where you shot your silenced weapon from. Things like that would make the game so much more fun for me.

 

Syncourt it sounds like you want Crytek to be behind the wheel again instead of Dunia/Ubisoft ;)

TBH though PinthonyJ nailed the mechanics side of things. The Multiplayer is even funnier when you look at how it’s a mashup of Crysis, Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises. Having said that the multiplayer would probably be THE BEST multiplayer out there if it weren’t for the peer 2 peer network code (oh and the broken leveling system currently being fixed). If it had gotten a proper Client Server setup it would have been astonishing and sand in the eyes of the big names. Pity on a missed opportunity really.

 

So, what your basically saying is that FC3 is to FPS what WoW is to MMOs?

 

elliotengi:
I was having too much fun to notice any of these non-issues :P

This.

 

Good read. Agree pretty well with the closing sentiment :) And thank **** it wasn’t blue :P

 

The Multiplayer is even funnier when you look at how it’s a mashup of Crysis, Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises. Having said that the multiplayer would probably be THE BEST multiplayer out there if it weren’t for the peer 2 peer network code (oh and the broken leveling system currently being fixed). If it had gotten a proper ClientServer setup it would have been astonishing and sand in the eyes of the big names. Pity on a missed opportunity really.

Maybe they’ll see how close they are and fix this issue? I’m still tempted to get the game and this review is kind of keeping me sitting on the fence. It’s pointed out a lot of niggly little flaws but overall they won’t effect the game. Hmm…

 

so is this article a complaint or is it giving credit that they combined all these features to make a great game? every game borrows idea’s from other games :)

Can’t wait to get some cash, will be playing this for sure!! Been waiting on it for ages and all i have heard is great things about it :D

 

korbain:
so is this article a complaint or is it giving credit that they combined all these features to make a great game? every game borrows idea’s from other games :)

Can’t wait to get some cash, will be playing this for sure!! Been waiting on it for ages and all i have heard is great things about it :D

The article was there to make a point that Far Cry has no identity. I honestly have no way to tell anyone what a FC game is like because it is all just a mishmash of ideas that sometimes work and that sometimes do not.

Example time:
You have had sex three times with three different people. Your friend, who is a virgin, asks you what sex is like. The first person you had sex was straight in there, nothing terribly new or exciting, just straight up sexual intercourse all up in your face, and such. The second person you had sex with was slower experience that required you to work your butt off and do most of the work. It was a lot more drawn out and required a lot of variations of the same ‘techniques’ but it was all about persistence and endurance. The third time involved whips and chains and a car battery and God knows what else. There was even times where you cried and you think there may have been some rape in there. (That rape part is not a very poorly realised analogy, there IS rape in FC3 and it is not dealt with in a sensitive and the gravity such an issue should be dealt with. “oh, so you got raped, that is a bummer. You do to mind if I get high” – I crap you not) There was a lot of stuff you did not understand and stuff you are pretty sure you blocked out of your memory.

So what do you tell your friend about sex? It contains nudity? Well , that time didn’t, I do not think. Um. Breasts? You are positive there were breasts all three times. Let’s go with breasts.

So in conclusion: Far cry 3 is breasts…

 
jerichosainte

PinothyJ: Well that was unnecessarily aggressive…

Trittium has a point. IMO its too large for an area that pretty much has the same uninteresting landscape everywhere you travel. Its pretty, but its all the same. For this reason I would rather have fast travel, but at least you can choose how you want to travel through the copy/paste landscape.

In terms of what is to discover, in the first few hours of play (apart from the core story) I’ve pretty much done everything you can do on the landscape without repeating something. There is no incentive to explore the rest of the land when your only quests once uncovering the land are either Take an outpost, Kill animal, kill rebel or a timed vehicle quest. Talk about mind numbing.

I’ll probably only end up running through the story quests.

 

jerichosainte: Trittium has a point. IMO its too large for an area that pretty much has the same uninteresting landscape everywhere you travel. Its pretty, but its all the same. For this reason I would rather have fast travel, but at least you can choose how you want to travel through the copy/paste landscape.

In terms of what is to discover, in the first few hours of play (apart from the core story) I’ve pretty much done everything you can do on the landscape without repeating something. There is no incentive to explore the rest of the land when your only quests once uncovering the land are either Take an outpost, Kill animal, kill rebel or a timed vehicle quest. Talk about mind numbing.

I’ll probably only end up running through the story quests.

But that is not a complaint to my article but to the game developers…

 

Funnily enough, while I very much enjoyed the game from start to finish, I must agree with the lack of identity, but in a slightly different way.

The first game did have something innovative which we now take for granted – before the weird monster things turned up, the combat was non linear, non corridor shooting. Now its everywhere, and some other games did it as well, but never before to the same degree. Then the mutants showed up and it was Doom.

But what binds all three Farcry games together? What common thread do they have, to show that one is a sequel of the other? The fact that they are set in the wilderness, and have some similar traits in playstyle? Most sequels have more than that. But you could have called all three Farcry games something else and no one would have noticed. That’s how little the connection is once you take away the name.

Oh, and going on about the rape part of the game, as you mentioned a few posts ago Pinothyj – the rape parts in Farcry 3 are, to be honest, dicey. There is implied rape for at least two of the friends in the group. One of them will tell you ‘don’t tell the others’, and the fact it was male on male rape is something I’m not sure games are exactly ready for. Personally I think the lack of care on the behalf of Jason is deliberate. The developers didn’t want controversy by delving too deeply into it, and it gives a better insight into Jason’s character – that he is, beneath it all, a dick. The flashback sequences that show just how much a pack of jerks the whole group were back in civilisation, a bunch of spoiled, pretty jocks, indicate that they are, in their entirety, pretty damn shallow people, and when confronted with something traumatic and terrible, they fall back on that shallow reactive behaviour as they don’t really have anything else in their repertoire. They deal with things by not dealing with them, and I get the feeling they’ve been doing that for a long time.

 
Toby McCasker

“just straight up sexual intercourse all up in your face, and such.”

 
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