Toby lifts a lazy finger from his Fijian hammock to send us this column.
By Toby McCasker on December 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm
Right now I’m in Fiji. Nandi, to be super precise, in an imprecise place loosely connected by FJD$7 cab rides across vast stretches of Far Cry 3.
That’s what this place looks like: Far Cry 3’s non-specific navel between the Indian Ocean’s loins and the Pacific Ocean’s moobs. Trade the bizarrely Kiwi locals for a hodge-podge of Fijians, Indo-Fijians, and stubbornly made-up expats and you’re there. I remember how much running and sliding and intense physicality Jason did in that game, and then I think of how the idea of even leaving this hammock for a second fills me with a nameless dread.
There are definitely reasons detonations might occur here. They never do, and they probably never will. You know why? Because Far Cry 3 is a lie. Were that reality, Jason would have grown globular of gut and languid of leg within a day. It is hot out here for an FPS pimp. No one moves much. If someone is mad, they’ll flick a piece of coconut shell at you, it’ll bounce off your Sex On The Beach, and you’ll both laugh at how there’s a perfect ocean right there. Suddenly you’ve made a friend.
It’s made me aware of the importance of environment in games wherein a lot of chaos happens, and why the devs might have gone with them. Snowy wastelands and infinite deserts are easy. They suggest a grimness that’s given to punting rockets at other human beings. Tall palms and clear deep blue is less inviting , by actually being more inviting. As an artistic device meant to jar and disorient, Far Cry’s tropical settings are perfect, and maybe even the most apt in Jeffrey Yohalem’s oft maligned and misunderstood (has anyone ever figured out what he was really shooting for? Has he?) narrative vision for the pinnacle of the series that is the third game.
As a place from which bedlam on an unprecedented scale might go and keep going, it’s a tough sell – but not wholly because of “tropical.”
Vietnam, though similar in climate, is different in that the dense minutiae of its verdancy is inherently threatening. There doesn’t even have to be Charlies in the trees watching you for you to feel like you’re being watched, though doubtless there are reticulated pythons trying to gauge where you’re about to have a nap.
The actual Vietnam War made it a no-brainer for shooters where once it might not have been. Thailand is again similar, but has not been shot to pieces by gamers yet because it lacks that bad history. The sooner Ubisoft Montreal become aware of the huge influx of Russian mobsters flocking to the prostitute-ridden streets of Pattaya, the better for gamers now so unconvinced by the beauteous fauna of Far Cry 3 they can no longer enjoy it on any level that doesn’t involve whimsical wingsuiting and happy snaps (uh, maybe just me).
Because as I sit here on this hammock unable to even reach for my Sex On The Beach anymore I am struck, once again, by both a coconut shell fragment and the realisation that gameplay mechanics and enemy AI are only the most obvious of FPS tenets craving innovation going in the fourth gen. Not only that, they’re the veritable children of the environment itself. It’s square zero, and it frequently goes without. Take us somewhere new.