Random Notes on Far Cry 3: Part 1

By Chris Posted Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

Filed under: Game Reviews 120 comments

Due to a number of circumstances beyond our control – Shamus' sleep schedule, Rutskarn's finals week, an unexpected death in my family, and Josh's sudden arraignment for an arson somewhere in Canada* – there will be no new Spoiler Warning this week. In an attempt to fill the gap, however, Shamus has graciously granted me permission to give you a bunch of words that will, with any luck, prove an adequate substitute for the pictures and noises normally posted in this space. And being both creatively bankrupt and hording my best material for myself, I figured I’d fulfill this honor by doing the most lazy thing possible: I’d write about the video game I’ve been playing most recently. With all of that house cleaning out of the way: Let’s talk about Far Cry 3.

I’ll be delving in to Far Cry 3 in the next few days, but before I go too deep into the thematic stuff I thought I’d talk about how the game compares to – and at times goes to great lengths to distance itself from – its predecessor.

While I've said my piece on Far Cry 2 already, it's worth reiterating that it’s sort of a challenging game. I don't mean that it’s challenging in terms of raw game difficulty, I mean that it challenges players trying to engage with the game itself. It's a game where the center cannot hold – Ben Abraham has rightly pointed out that its mechanics all tie closely to themes of entropy and decay. Guns break down over time, fire spreads and consumes foliage, cleared checkpoints are repopulated, friends betray you, the political situation continues to rip the country apart, and even your own body is under siege by disease. The player is never really in complete control of his or her situation and whatever gains they make are always eroded and undone. Part of this is to encourage the creation of memorable emergent situations, but there's a serious thematic subtext there as well.

This was compounded by a narrative quite intentionally nested in nebulous moral grounds. The player is caught between two sides of a civil war that's never fully explained where each is willing to do more awful things than the other to win. As a foreign mercenary, the player tries to play the two sides against the middle in hopes that it will shake loose the arms dealer he was sent in to kill. It's a game that lacks a traditional ‘good guy' – just about every character is contemptible. Even the few good actions the player commits – smuggling civilians out of the war-torn country with forged papers – are done because a priest blackmails you for your Malaria medicine. This isn't a game where a hero charges into battle and emerges victorious, it's a game where you're just as shady as the people you're gunning down and whatever progress you make will simply vanish the next time you walk through that section of the jungle.

Far Cry 3 has run screaming from just about all of that. The only real returning ideas are an absolute dedication to the first person perspective and the fire mechanics. Everything else much more… streamlined. Safe, even. There's no moral ambiguity on the island. Gone are two indistinguishable sides of a power struggle – Far Cry 3 has an army of drug trafficking, slave trading, murderous pirates and mercenaries on one side and a docile, fun loving, thankful native tribe on the other. And if that wasn't enough, the bad guys kill your brother in the opening act while keeping the rest of your friends hostage. This probably would be more effective if the opening cinematic didn't frame you and your friends as some of the most obnoxious, vapid, spoiled people alive, but hey – it serves its purpose. Whether it's Megan in Human Revolution, Alice in Alan wake, or Grant and company in Far Cry 3, killing and/or stealing a person seems to be an easy (read: lazy) way to both motivate protagonists and generate at least a weak emotional investment on the part of players. We can debate whether this is effective, but it certainly isn't being used to foster a sense of moral ambiguity.

This black-and-white mentality isn't just in the narrative, though – is stretches out to the aesthetics. Where Far Cry 2 made it hard to tell who you were shooting or why to emphasize the irrelevance of the reasons for the conflict, Far Cry 3 conveniently color codes the sides of its battles. And guess what: the guys in bright red are the bad guys, the guys in blue are the good guys, and the guys in yellow are all unemployed mercenaries looking for work after Haze failed.

The themes of decay and entropy have also been removed in favor of giving the players a concrete and appreciable sense of accomplishment. Far Cry 2’s checkpoint mechanics may have made thematic sense, but they infuriated many players. After clearing an outpost enemies would respawn in short order, and it wasn’t uncommon to clear a checkpoint on the way to a mission only to have to clear it again on the drive back to town. Ubisoft Montreal seem so afraid of repeating this perceived mistake that clearing an outpost permanently eliminates enemies from the entire area. The result is that enemy territories are where the interesting emergent play happens. A convoy full of soldiers sees you while hunting deer; a peaceful hang gliding trip is ruined by machine gun fire from below; you stumble into a group of pirates sitting around a campfire while running from a bear and manage to use the bear to take out the pirates. This is the game at its mechanical best, but none of this happens in owned territory. Cleared zones are functionally hunting grounds that feature minigame compilations like poker and racing and sidequests. Players get their sense of accomplishment, but it comes at the expense of some of the most interesting ways mechanics can unexpectedly rub up against one another.

The other entopic mechanics have also been removed – ostensibly with the goal of letting players sculpt the play experience they want instead of having to compromise with the game. Guns no longer breakdown, ammo is now rarely scarce, and vehicles litter the landscape such that you won’t ever bother carrying a repair tool with you. The game’s almost bountiful in these respects. The game wants you to get where you want to get and shoot who you want to shoot with the gun you want to use without distraction. But that’s the problem – Far Cry 2 was as much about the distraction of an unexpected encounter or broken car as it was about the mission itself. Sometimes you’d have to improvise when you came out of cover only to double over due to Malaria, sometimes you’d have a rocket misfire and take out your getaway car, and sometimes you’d find yourself running out of ammo and falling back to a flare gun of all things. In Far Cry 2 things didn’t always go as planned, and that was central to both the game’s play and its thematics. In Far Cry 3 you get to coldly stock up on exactly the weapons you plan to use, drive to the enemy base almost uninterrupted, and use them to take the base. It gives players what they want, but in doing so it takes away much of what made the game work.

Far Cry 2 had its share of problems, and did itself no favors by making itself difficult to approach. But it did so because it asked a lot of those who played it. Far Cry 3 asks basically nothing of you – which is probably why I got so little out of it.

*Note: One of these things may not have ever actually happened.


From The Archives:

120 thoughts on “Random Notes on Far Cry 3: Part 1

  1. Primogenitor says:

    Yay! Text! Personally, I would prefer text to video content, but I think I’m in a minority on that.

    1. The Stranger says:

      I am with you 100%. I really prefer text to any other medium. I like to read things, don’t generally like to watch things.

      Oh, and the article was fine too.

    2. Rich says:

      Right with you here. More reading is good.

    3. ccesarano says:

      I like both. I like text when I have time to be a lazy bum at work. I like video when I’m at home and tired of looking at text on a monitor and can just listen to someone while pretty images flash on screen as I sit back several feet away in a relaxed position.

      I’ve come to really enjoy podcasts as well, for my commute and those moments at work where I’m busy but can put headphones on. Truth told, I’ve grown to enjoy podcasts more than going to most websites. I’ve found most games writers are bad at writing but have good opinions or sense of humor.

      1. some random dood says:

        Agree about having a mix of vid and text. I do miss Shamus’ writings on this site, but as he explained in previous posts I can understand why this is relatively unforthcoming now. Hopefully the pressures on his time will ease at some point, and he will be able to throw out some more words to this medium.
        Will admit, I don’t do podcasts. For some reason, I am unable to concentrate on sound only – my mind wanders – so they don’t work for me.

        1. ccesarano says:

          It is easiest for me to do podcasts when I’m driving to/from work (about an hour to, hour and a half from, which is perfect time for some of my favorites), or have to do some of the more repetitive and mind-numbing stuff. This keeps me concentrated on the discussion while occupying the rest of my brain that doesn’t want to just sit and do nothing.

    4. Matt says:

      Agreed – I can read text without disturbing whoever’s in the room with me, and I can absorb words far faster by looking at them than by listening to someone saying them.

    5. Adam says:

      I concur. SW is nice, and all, but I miss the days of Experienced Points and “All Rise for a Message from Shamus”

    6. krellen says:

      I do the text stuff for Shamus now, you just can’t see it because I hide it over on my blog. I’m tricky like that.

      1. ccesarano says:

        So uh…you write about anything other than X-Com? :P

        I’ll try and keep you on my blogroll nonetheless. Tis the season for me to need more stuff to read during work.

        1. krellen says:

          Probably not until I finish that game of XCOM. :P

          Though I do have some ideas for more “Weekend Updates” about other stuff.

    7. MrGuy says:

      You are in a maze of twisty internets, all alike.

        1. MeGuy says:

          It is dark here. You are likely to be eaten by a Mumbles.
          Exits are W,N.

            1. MeGuy says:

              You are in a large dimly lit cavern. While not completely black, there is not enough light to tell where the gloom ends and the walls begin. In the center of a room is a small table and an overturned chair. A stump of white candle flickers in a brass plate on the table. On the ground nearby is a book that appears to be covered with a yellow substance.
              You hear a faint buzzing sound coming from somewhere above you.
              Exits are S

              1. Scot Schulz says:

                take candle

                1. MeGuy says:

                  You burn your fingers attempting to pry the candle out of the brass plate, but the candle remains firmly wedged.
                  Exits are S

                2. MeGuy says:

                  You burn your fingers attempting to pry the candle out of the brass plate, but the candle remains firmly wedged.
                  Exits are S

                  1. Scot Schulz says:

                    ingest honey

                    1. MrGuy says:

                      You attempt the scrape some of the yellow honey-like substance off the book laying on the floor. The faint buzzing becomes a definite hum. As you raise your honey-drenched hands to your mouth, an innumerably large cloud of bees descends from above, stinging mercilessly.

                      You have died.

                      Your score is 0 out of 150.

                    2. Scot Schulz says:

                      And that basically encapsulates my experience in every text-based adventure I’ve ever played. (I think most parsers would have gagged on “ingest” though.) The genre is just not for me. As far as I can tell, the gameplay consists entirely of guessing what the author intended while in most cases the author is being intentionally obtuse (the extreme parody of the form, of course, being the reguired mainline quest for the Babel Fish in HHGTTG). Why not just grab a brick and apply it repeatedly to your forehead for a cheaper but entirely equivalent experience?

                      Thanks for playing along and incorporating the Spoiler Warning callbacks so cleverly, MeGuy.

    8. Ross says:

      Another vote on a return to text. You’re a gifted writer Shamus, that’s what made us your fans.

    9. Kdansky says:

      I prefer text by a few orders of magnitude, especially when the videos are rambling. Twentysided is (was?) my favourite site, but I rarely watch Spoiler Warning, despite having a few dozen subscribed channels on youtube.

    10. Bubble181 says:

      Another vote for text.

      SW is great and all ,but I rarely watch it. Don’t have the time or inclination to sit still and watch a video for 20 minutes; can read an article in 5…Or come back to it over an hour’s time in between other stuff at work.

      I generally prefer text over video; I’d rank SW above a lot f text but Shamus is a great writer so his text gets another step, higher-up on the scale of “things I like”.

      1. Joshua says:

        Wow, glad I’m not the only one to feel this way. Started reading the blog back in 2006 due to DMotR, the game reviews, and the insights on gaming and computer industry. Don’t think I’ve made it 100% through any Spoiler Warning.

        Feel the same way about getting my news and checking out sites like Cracked. If it’s a video, 95% I’m not watching it.

    11. ccesarano says:

      To provide some defense for Shamus, he IS currently writing a book, and I imagine after you’ve been writing all day you end up wanting to do anything BUT transcribe thoughts to monitor. That, or you begin to feel guilty that you’re writing something that isn’t your book.

      So while I do miss much of his game critique, I’m willing to overlook it because I enjoyed The Witch Watch and would like to see what he has up his sleeve next.

      1. krellen says:

        According to Heather, he’s actually NOT currently writing the book, but rather stuck in programming mode, much to her chagrin (apparently her proofreading is stuck at a cliffhanger).

    12. Daniel says:

      The reason text is better is that I can read at my own pace. I don’t have to invest a set amount of time to read a post like I do to watch a video.

      Also, I can skip or skim parts of the text easier than I can a video.

      And, text uses way less of my mobile data plan than videos do.

    13. Fleaman says:

      Text is better than video. Please take transcripts of Spoiler Warning and post those instead.

    14. MelTorefas says:

      Heartily agree with the text > video sentiment. I have never watched a spoiler warning, and rarely watch internet videos in general. I even get bothered when I am looking for a guide or tutorial on something and can only find video ones (even though I understand why video tutorials can be so much more effective). Just don’t like ’em.

  2. Halceon says:

    I’m betting the thing that hasn’t happened is Shamus’ sleep schedule. That man has no sense of order whatsoever.

    1. Keldoclock says:

      You know, I was so jazzed that for a few days, every night before I went to bed a new Spoiler Warning would be up ( even if that was at 1am or early morning or noon). I think it’s pretty impressive that Shamus has the same sleep schedule as a teenager :P

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Sorry for your loss Chris.

    Im going to compare far cry 3 not to any of its predecessors,but to another game that Ive played recently.It may seem a bit weird at first,but Im going to compare far cry 3 to assassins creed 3.FC3 is not only similar to AC3,but it beats the game in its own theme.I was sneaking way more often in FC3 than in AC3.I was planning how to stealthily kill an entire camp way more carefully.Then there are the tower mechanics that slowly open your map,which are much better than the eagle sights in AC3.And sneaking through the foliage is much more satisfying than brief treks trough tree branches.Plus there is the whole thing of having a meh protagonist,and very interesting antagonists(seriously,why wasnt haytham the protagonist in the whole AC3?).

    1. Aldowyn says:

      *shrug* Connor had more interesting motivations than Ezio did, he was just SO overshadowed by Haytham.

      And so many of the mechanics of AC3 are just… broken. Although the stealth gameplay can get pretty great out in the snowy frontier sometimes.

      1. Amnestic says:

        I’ve not yet played AssCreed 3, but I’ve heard that while Connor may have more interesting motivations than Ezio, apparently he traded away all the character and charm for those. “Stoic”, “blank” and “boring” were not uncommon words to describe him. Motivations are one thing but if you lack any character to back him up it’s still not interesting.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Fair points, and certainly not invalid. I’d say Ezio is more fun, Connor was more interesting.

          Which, oddly enough, translates to the ezio trilogy to AC3…

    2. ccesarano says:

      I also thought of Assassin’s Creed, though not 3 in particular (as I haven’t played it yet). Though what I thought about is how you could “claim a territory” as safe, yet there would still be hostile guards all over the place on rooftops. Meanwhile, it sounds like Far Cry 3 is empty of that.

      Yet in Assassin’s Creed, the fun is in climbing and hopping along the rooftops. Far Cry 3? The fun is in the combat and shooting, or so I assume (haven’t played that, either). Far Cry 3 should have soldiers remain in areas you have overtaken, just fewer, thus allowing for time to enjoy the combat. Assassin’s Creed should clear areas so you are free to run and explore without being bothered.

      It’s like Ubisoft got their own mechanics screwed up.

      1. Fleaman says:

        Development of territory control concept: Areas you control are free of static enemies, i.e. patrols and sentries do not spawn. To prevent monotony and stagnation, enemies may instead spawn in occasional events:

        1. Raids. Enemy units move through your territory as an organized group, attacking any developed assets and then retreating. For example, in Ass Creed, 3-9 Templar thugs ride through your district and smash up shops, necessitating that they be renovated again. This would be more guys than you typically engage in non-mission battles.

        2. Assaults. A large, well-equipped army marches on the road from an enemy territory to the control center of one of your own with the intent of recapturing it. Ass Creed example: It would be like the Templar assaults in Revelations, except not a shitty tower defense game. This would be a huge mass of dudes, and maybe a boss if your game has bosses.

      2. Aldowyn says:

        ehhh. AC is about more than just the parkour :/ the combat is a BIG part of the game I think. I’d agree with them not attacking you so easily once you have control, though.

  4. LunaticFringe says:

    Wait, Josh is the one who set my car on fire? Curses…

    *Must resist making a comment about Old Man Shamus’ nap time…*

    To be honest, having only played Far Cry 1 and 2 (while having no interest in playing the third) I assumed they were going to go for a ‘safer’ approach in Far Cry 3’s design. While the second had interesting mechanics, I think that lack of ‘control’ is what many players found so unappealing (along with the game’s more obvious flaws).

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Btw,Shamus have you seen a man eat his own face?If not,then you havent seen everything.

  6. Amnestic says:

    So…this might be getting discussed in the future parts of the wordiness, but if the entropy/decay theme has been removed, what does Far Cry 3 replace it with? Generic White Male American Hero With Stupid Hair Saving the Day?

    Serious question, only seen a short bit of FC3 after the intro sequence.

    1. Chris says:

      The game’s closer to a merger of Skyrim and Borderlands with only a few hints of Far Cry.

      Like Borderlands it’s got leveling up mechanics with three skill trees. There’s loot to collect, although they handle it in different ways – Borderlands is structured much like Diablo/Torchlight where FarCry 3 is more about loot driving a crafting/cash economy. It’s also a world populated with really vibrant, memorable, and quite frankly cartoonish characters much like Borderlands.

      Its Skyrim influence is primarily due to its open world, quest selection nature. But there are also crafting mechanics where you collect wild plants and hunt animals to make potions or improve your carrying capacity for different items. It’s also got a fast travel system akin to Skyrim where you can visit any town you’ve captured instantly – unlike Far Cry 2 or Borderlands which are more stringent with their fast travel abilities. And like Skyrim there are a number of dungeons that only open up during quest lines.

      The remains of Far Cry 2 are a shooter that wants you to approach objectives the way you see fit, but with a neutered emphasis on emergent play. It’s still got emergent elements – you can trick a tiger into eating bad guys or sometimes a stray convoy of allies can accidentally come help you – but it’s much more rare to end up in a truly interesting situation because of how little things can go wrong.

      1. Dude says:

        Would you say this is an unnecessary game, then, Chris? A sequel that does enough things differently than its predecessor and has enough content to warrant a sequel number, but loses a lot of what made its predecessor the game it was (the way Oblivion lost a lot of Morrowind’s charm/clutter, depending on which side of the fence you stand on), and doesn’t either do the stuff it kept from Far Cry 2 well, or the things it borrows from recent open world games? In the same category as, say, Assassin’s Creed Revelations or its latest sequel?

        (And thank you for your Errant Signal video on Little Inferno.)

        1. Vipermagi says:

          “A sequel that does enough things differently than its predecessor to warrant a sequel number”
          But, it doesn’t? It’s Far Cry 2 that is the weird one.

          1. StashAugustine says:

            Yeah, the series progression here is semi-linear FPS with mad-science mutants, Spec Ops: Poorly Thought Out Edition, then Far Cry 2’s gameplay ideas combined with FC1’s more conventional-FPS feel.

      2. zob says:

        I’d disagree on cartoonish characters. I’ve seen people like Vaas in real life.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Really?Introduce me to them,because vaas is awesome!

          1. zob says:

            It wasn’t a pleasant experience.

  7. Vipermagi says:

    I’ve played all three ‘main’ Far Cry games, Instincts: Predator, and the original Crysis. Four games are about tropical islands, a fairly fast pace, lots of guns and feature a surreal element. One of those five is a chore to play in a dark-brown desert.

    “Ubisoft Montreal seem so afraid of repeating this perceived mistake”
    From a gameplay standpoint, that was a far cry from a “perceived” mistake. It was utterly obnoxious to have to plow through five camps of God-knows-who* just to talk to some guy or another, only to turn around and clear the same god damn camps all over again because you weren’t there for two minutes. On top of that, they had the gall to spawn a car filled with racists ever 100 meters. It’s the reason I could not get myself to complete that game twice. I just got sick of killing the same bland, boring enemies over and over, even if that was somehow relevant to the story, thematics, or whatever the crap. I don’t care what it’s all about, it pisses me right off so go away.

    *This was all made worse by the lack of any variety or dynamism in the fights. Fire doesn’t spread much during a battle, because you don’t find guys in the wilderness; they’re on roads and in non-inflammable shacks. And what do you know, roads also don’t burn! There’s two enemy types or something? Generic Gunner, and Sniper.

    If anything, Far Cry 3 has the entropic fights, not 2. Generic Gunner, Shotgunner, Molotov tosser, LMG tank, Sniper, RPG arsehole, Melee jerk, Komodo Dragons, tigers, bears, snakes, fights that are not exclusively on roads, buildings that catch fire to create dangerous zones, effective stealth, more height-dynamism. I started a second game in FC3 not one hour after completing it, just so I could murder more random dudes. I explicitly avoided capturing most outposts then. Why? Because fighting random dudes is *actually fun*.

    Guns wearing down was also a failed mechanic, albeit one that, luckily, wasn’t completely game-killing. It was just an annoyance. “Oh, I have to visit the gun store again because I fired fifteen rounds.” And presto, good as new. Literally, because it was a new gun. Heck, because I had to return to the weapon store to get a new gun once I emptied four clips or magazines, I was never out of ammo. It’s Predator and Far Cry 1 that I had issues with keeping up the ammo count; not Far Cry 2.

    “vehicles litter the landscape such that you won't ever bother carrying a repair tool with you.”
    Cars had no value in Far Cry 2. Hitting a ramp is a death sentence for your car (but, you can always turn a bolt on the radiator to fix any damage). Cars break down after two shots fired at it, and there’ll be a metric ton of Generic Non-Affiliated People firing bullets at you because you look funny. You have to stop and kill the Generic Non-Affiliated People just so you can keep driving; heck, it’s faster to avoid shooting their car and using that after killing them. On an average road trip, I went through many more cars in 2 than in 3. I found about as-many.

    I do like Far Cry 2, but it has the wrong name. It’s in the wrong series. It’s flawed, but it’s interesting. It’s… decent. It’s not Far Cry. It’s the game that ran from its namesake; Far Cry 3 embraced it. “Far Cry 3 has run screaming from just about all of [Far Cry 2]” because people wanted Far Cry from a game with the name Far Cry.

    1. Zukhramm says:

      Is it not unreasonable to define what a series “is” when it has only two previous entries?

      1. Vipermagi says:

        I was only listing those I personally played. Six Far Cry games were released prior to FC2; Wiki link. One of those is a remake (Instincts: Predator, actually), but even if you don’t count it… That’s a lot of tropical islands.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          I was not aware of that.

      2. Aldowyn says:

        People do that all the time, even after only one. Let’s see… Fallout, Dragon Age.. oh look. Mass Effect!

        So yeah, people do that all the time. What’s the point of making a series a series if the games aren’t essentially the same?

    2. Deadyawn says:

      I felt that the real problem with having to fight 20 irrelevant guys each way was that it just sucked most of the fun out the game. Everytime it was either an outpost of 4-8 people or a car with 2-3. It wasn’t challenging, it wasn’t interesting and it wasn’t fun. They were all simply too small and easy to be of note but there were so many of them that they would try your patience constantly. It was a minor nuisance that resulted in a big flaw and it’s pretty much the only reason I never finished that game.

    3. Bubble181 says:

      First off, you may be very much right in saying that FC3 is much closer to all the rest of the series. Haven’t played enough games in the series to contribute meaningfully.

      OTOH, Chris sin’t saying this is a departure from the series – he’s saying it’s a step away fromthe previous game. The last game being an outlier doesn’t change that.

      In fact, you and Chris seem to simply have gone into these games with different expectations. If you’re looking for a fun time shooting folks in a game, you’re a fan of FC3. FC2 was a whole different game, with specific choices made to make it less gamey and less fun, and more interesting/deep storywise. If you’re looking for a believeable world; somewhere in-between a shooter and a modern shooting RPG (say, Fallout NV), you’ll prefer FC3.

      Both are valid games (and genres/types of games), but playing one expecting the other will lead to disappointment. Imagine going into ME3 thinking you’ll be playing a story-telling RPG! Hah! :p

      1. Vipermagi says:

        That is essentially it, yes. My comment’s mostly just raging on Far Cry 2 being a game with the wrong name, and being happy Far Cry 3 didn’t follow that trend. However, as I also pointed out, it doesn’t make FC2 a *bad* game per se (and I do like it on its own). :)

    4. Aldowyn says:

      The way I’m seeing this is for the argument than fun trumps unfun that fits a theme. Although I’m sure you could handle it better…

      I think it’d be interesting if you could make a shifting front line of camps that are cleared, and the bandits have to actually take the camp from you if you show up in a certain time period (but wait long enough and they’ll take it without you). I guess the time it takes just needs to be longer.

  8. AJax says:

    Sorry for your loss Chris.

    I may be nitpicky here but I absolutely hate how FC3 pulled you out of the game experience every once in a while, whether for buying weapons, crafting or leveling up. In FC2, every game mechanic and feature was presented in-game even standard UI features such as maps. You actually had to pull up a GPS style map in front of your face. Purchasing weapons had you sitting in front of a PC ordering your desired weapons. This small attention to details are what I adore the most about FC2. In FC3, it just gives you map and level-up screens then calls it a day. I hate to use the word but it just feels so “game-y”.

    1. Robyrt says:

      Yeah, I’m sad that almost all the immersive features of Far Cry 2 have been dialed back on. The signposts no longer point you to the next objective, the map and shop now go into standard menu screens, and the new “be generous to the player” theme means you will almost never see the painful healing animations.

      Actually, including some of these bits would have made the game more difficult in an organic way, which would be very welcome. Right now, you can craft and quaff a potion in zero time, instead of panicking when you run out of that one you really needed. An animation where you put down your backpack and open it up to go into the crafting menu would solve this problem elegantly.

  9. Groboclown says:

    This is why games like this should have gameplay options. It’s a game. It should be fun. Want to have checkpoints be always cleared? Use a slider to select how fast they respawn (or if they do at all). Want guns to have weardown? A slider (how fast it wears down). Want disease? A slider. Want hunger? A slider. Want poop to spoil water sources? Well, that’s a different game rating.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      The problem with that is that mechanics are designed to tie in to each other to make a certain theme for the game. I guess that’s a little bit of an ideological view of game design, but… *Shrug*

      1. Groboclown says:

        I’m fine with this, but, at the very least, these kinds of options should be unlockable, preferably with a code rather than completing portions of the game. Heck, these can even be hidden from the UI in some configuration file. The game designers can add options like “hardcore” or “story mode” or “as the designer wanted” or whatever, and still allow this kind of player fun.

      2. Klay F. says:

        The only problem is that things such as respawning checkpoints are in no way in line with the themes of Far Cry 2. It was very at odds with the themes in fact. Though all of this is academic. You can go on all about the themes all day if you like, I won’t care. Why? Because shit like respawning checkpoints are not FUN. I might have stuck around if the (say) the story was interesting, but lets be honest here, the story (as in the plot) might as well have not existed.

        Here’s the kicker though, they wouldn’t even have to take the respawning out to fix the damned thing. They could have done something like a Bethesda system where all cleared checkpoints are completely reset after like 3 in-game days. It blows my mind to think nobody at Ubisoft playtested this portion of the game. This game actually pisses me off because after 30 seconds thinking about it, even I can come up with a better system than what they went with. How the fuck could they have possibly thought this was a good idea? Even to this day I want to kick everyone involved with that game in the groin.

        1. ryath says:

          B-but I thought the respawning checkpoints were fun…

          It gave me more things to shoot at, and I’m all for more shooting in a shooter. They break up the drive-y bits, too, which a lot of people seem to find tedious. If you look at it thematically, the respawns also pile on that feeling of nothing you’re doing actually making any difference.

          1. Thomas says:


            Slightly misusing someone else’ words to fight my own fight =D I think I’ve been poisoned by reading too many good articles on films, it’s made me want the same thing from games and a lot of them feel very vapid.

        2. Robyrt says:

          An interview with Clint Hocking explained that the respawning checkpoints were due to limitations in the game engine: it won’t save your game state when you leave and re-enter an area, so all enemies respawn. It’s not because they didn’t test it, or they didn’t think it was an issue.

          1. Klay F. says:

            You see this doesn’t jive with me either. Why? Because this was one of the most advanced game engines of the day, and even fucking Gamebryo was capable of keeping dungeons and the like clear for 3 in-game days.

            If even the Gamebryo engine can do this better than Far Cry 2, there is a engine programmer out there deserving of harakiri.

    2. KremlinLaptop says:

      Pooping in the enemies water source to spoil it as a gameplay mechanic. Come back a few days later and all the enemies have the runs like nobodies business.

      1. Tse says:

        But they would get dysentery only if you had it when you contaminated their water. I think a corpse that spent several days in a damp environment would be a better pollutant.

        1. MrGuy says:

          Not dysentery. E. Coli contamination.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Europa universalis FPS?

    3. ccesarano says:

      I’ve championed this sort of notion in games as well. Full customization to my experience. Know where I finally found it (not counting Unreal Tournament since its single player technically lacked those options)?

      NHL 13.

      The EA sports games allow you to do a LOT of customization of the experience. At first I felt completely overwhelmed, but now I’m making adjustments as I’m learning how to play the game, trying to create an experience where the scores are close, sometimes I’ll win, sometimes I’ll lose.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Wait,wait,wait,WAIT!!An actual progress in ea sports game?Actual improvement,and not just a facelift?!The mind boggles.

        1. ccesarano says:

          Well, I don’t know if it’s an actual IMPROVEMENT per se, as this is the first sports video game I’ve played since NHL Stanley Cup on the SNES in the early 90’s. However, I have a LOT more respect for these developers considering a lot of the raw content in here. I don’t plan on grabbing the games year to year, truth told, as I’m not big enough into hockey for that. But there’s a LOT on offer here.

  10. Aldowyn says:

    So. This article actually made me want to play Far Cry 2, even though I was originally interested in Far Cry 3. I mean, I’m sure Far Cry 3 is a good game, but a pretty simple one. I mean, even Skyrim isn’t black & white. (more like black and varying shades of gray)

    It’s sad how many games lose their individuality in sequels, ESPECIALLY shooters, where that individuality is DESPERATELY needed.

    1. Irridium says:

      Well, if you want to give it a shot, it’s on GoG for $10.

      I suggest getting it there, since I think everywhere else it comes with TAGES DRM, which Shamus actually wrote about.

      1. Deadyawn says:

        It did, but I think Ubisoft relented on it. Don’t quote me on that one though.

      2. Chris says:

        And now it’s only $5.00 thanks to the GOG holiday sale! Hooray!

    2. ? says:

      I’ve been watching my brother play Far Cry 3 and I don’t know if I would call this game black & white. In one of the quests I saw, he was trying to stop a “freedom fighter” from visiting the grave of his wife that he beat to death. Earlier today he told me that he is really uneasy about liberating the island and it feels like he is replacing one armed group with another instead of improving the life of civilians. While pirates are psychos, rebels feel incompetent and without a plan, and privateers seems to be organized and keep peace on southern island (he just started this part of the game though, so maybe their atrocities are just waiting for him).

      1. Vipermagi says:

        The main character isn’t quite, er, correct either. The final two or three hours are nuts.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Simple is sometimes much better.

  11. ccesarano says:

    Condolences, Chris.

    Out of curiosity, are you familiar with Tom Chick/Quarter to Three? Considering the two of you are on the same page on this game, I figure you might enjoy some of his stuff.

    Myself, I’ve avoided Far Cry 2 after a bad experience with one of the Xbox ports of the original (which is unfair), as well as an aesthetic choice that I don’t like and I can’t place why. However, Far Cry 3 has me interested, and I think because the villain seems to be fascinating. The latest RadioRadar (GamesRadar podcast) only has me more intrigued.

  12. Irridium says:

    One thing I loved in Far Cry 2 was that you could pick a character to play as. There were a few option, an American dudebro, a Russian mercenary, an Irish smuggler, Haitian insurgant, and a few more. It didn’t really mean much story-wise, apart from enforcing the fact that nobody is a “good guy”, not even you no matter who you choose to play as, but it was nice to take have the option. Unfortunately there were no women you could play as, though. Which was a shame. Still, wish something like that remained for Far Cry 3.

    Though, I wonder, does Far Cry 3 do anything with “white dudebro is savior of all natives who can’t save themselves?” considering Far Cry 2, I’d expect them to do something with it, though considering how much they’ve apparently tried to distance themselves from it, there’s a chance they didn’t. Which would be a shame.

    1. Vipermagi says:

      They do something with Jason ‘White Dudebro’ Brody (with a horrible haircut). Jason goes completely insane during the story, and doesn’t become aware of it until way at the end. He’s far from an ideal, but he is still The Hero.

  13. Spammy says:

    I appreciate Far Cry 2 on the grounds that playing it has allowed me to see what did and did not work and apply that knowledge to other games so that I can better understand what I did and did not like in those games and explain that.

    I have not finished Far Cry 2, I do not want to finish Far Cry 2, I don’t think Far Cry 2 was that good of a game.

    I felt like the narrative really dropped the ball. They were so focused on their idea that there are no good guys that they didn’t give us a reason to do anything. I can’t tell you what UFLL or APR actually stand for, what they want, or what makes them different. One of the Ls in UFLL is labor, I think? I don’t know. I don’t know enough about the factions to say that they’re Not So Different. I don’t know what they want, I don’t think you ever have a True Believer from either faction trying to convert you, I have no idea what either of these factions are going to do for the population at large… I don’t have enough information to care about them or the plot.

    I’ll tell you what really drove me away from Far Cry 2: The big “choice” at the end of the first act. Some guy that you’ve never seen before (Because that’s how you build emotional impact) tells you emotionlessly that some faction is going to kill all your merc buddies and a bunch of civilians and you can only save one group.

    The fact that they acted like this was a major choice just pissed me off. There are no civilians in this game! There’s three people huddling in the same closet of every safehouse and that’s it! No one walking on the streets, no one caught in the middle, no one you give a damn about! Some Kidd from Mass Effect 3 and Far Cry 2’s civilians are one and the same. Only this game gives you the choice to not save Some Kidd and expects you to feel bad about it.

    And at that point the camel’s back broke and I was tired of the open world = box canyon environments, tired of the bland shooting, tired of my guns falling apart after a single magazine, tired of driving forever to get nowhere and do nothing, and most of all tired of this hamfisted plot that confuses not telling the player anything with being deep.

    I’m not saying that the setting or mechanics couldn’t have worked, but I’m saying that they didn’t work because they didn’t tell me enough of anything for me to care. Imagine Human Revolution where they don’t tell you what Sarif Industries is, what Jensen’s job is, who the antagonists are, or where you’re going next. That’s Far Cry 2 in a nutshell for me.

    But, the game did help me verbalize a lot of what I like and don’t like in games, and for a while I did enjoy creeping through the jungle all stealthy or snipey. So while I think it’s not a good game, I did learn from it and enjoy it in parts. Thanks for your Errant Signal video on it, Chris, or I’d have never tried the game.

    1. Klay F. says:

      This. I could have put up with a the respawning checkpoint bullshit if the game had given me a REASON to put up with it.

      As it is, the “plot” (massive finger-quotes) might as well not exist.

      I also love how everyone is always talking about the themes of the game. They all do this because thats pretty much the only thing to talk about in the ENTIRE game. Themes can’t carry a game that fails in every other catagory, and Far Cry 2 is proof.

  14. Far Cry 3 reminds me a little of Half Life.
    In fact if they had made the player character say nothing at all, then you basically have Gordon Freeman. (is there a crowbar on the island BTW?)

    If you want easy playing, then take all radio towers ASAP and then take enemy bases, it is then very nice to go around the island doing the main story missions or side missions. (due to fast travel).

    If you want a challenge then wait with the towers (except the first one that is part of the tutorial) until the main story gets to a point where you are about to go to the second island, you should be able to know i little ahead before that happens as the subject will be brought up that you need to go there. That is a good point to start possibly doing a “grid search” to root out all enemy bases and do all radio towers until you have “secured the island”.

    Or you can be a opportunist and just do bases and towers as you go along main and side missions.

    I won’t spoil any story stuff, let’s just say that it’s all about revenge and loosing a part of yourself the “good” and “bad” (I suspect it’s the canon ending? as the character has lost himself, and the news of the events of a Far Cry “island” never seem to leave the island so the bad ending makes sense that way.) was well done, and the bad ending left little to the imagination during one particular scene which caught me by surprise, but was better executed than say the Mass Effect love scene, it felt more “real” and fit the main story (then again no multiple npc’s to romance either in Far Cry 3).

    A few things that do not work though that Chris failed to point out but that might be in Part 2? (Ain’t I nice Chris, I gave you a nice out there! ;)

    For example hunting for skin to make weapon and ammo and carrying bag etc. felt nice. And logical.
    But it clashes with the well stocked weapons store. Sure the island is very “green” (pun intended) with the amount of hostiles on the road initially it’s odd the tribal town you start in hasn’t been wiped out yet. It’s not exactly “hidden”.

    If instead you could only get some food, clothes and medicine and buy/trade (hunt animals and bring the furs and pelts and skins and meat as payment?) the stuff, and maybe some tribal weapons, and have to go out and raid enemy camps/trucks/bases to get weapons and ammo would have made Far Cry 3 really pop another level up in gameplay quality.

    The interactive puzzled could have been more interesting. Each enemy camp/base having a cage with a tiger or bear that you could “release” was fun the first few times. But the way the cage “break” is just weird.

    In contrast you have Hitman: Absolution which has a multiple chances throughout the game where you are “sneaking” around and you can take out various targets in often hilarious ways. Burning hair growth formula is hilarious.
    If FarCry 3 had a little more mechanics like that available it would have been very cool.

    At one point I thought I would be able to dress up as a tribal “ghost” (I seem to recall a “mask” being mentioned), and I was saying to myself “Great, maybe I’ll get to sneak around and scary the shit out of the enemy, play on their superstitions!” Accidents and weird deaths or “disappearances” and the frightened realization that their coworkers are vanishing would have been great.

    But there really is none. And although enemy NPCs seem react differently to you throughout the main story they never treat you differently regardless if you barely kill anyone or if you slaughter every single one of them. Big Spoiler (1st island): Although the one time you dig yourself out of a mass grave and they think you are a zombie is hilarious, it is a shame that they do not spread that story to everyone beyond that point.

    A lot of these shooter games has this issue. Heck Hitman: Absolution even has this issue. Remember that trailer where the cops are talking in a “cutscene” on who the hell/how the hell did the per do that, how dangerous “you” are. Why wasn’t that in the actual game? At least I never saw it when I tried it.

    If the player picks off the enemy one by one, never is seen. And bodies never found. That would freak the hell out of any enemy guards. They’d chatter about it, both on radios and on guards duties, or off duty. (some would even tease others about it etc.)

    There is however one time in Far Cry 3 (that I noticed when I tried it) is a poker game where the other players actually do talk/reference your player character. But that is part of the introduction to the poker game mechanic and could be considered a “cutscene” in a way.

    Then there is the second way, be all rambo about it. As the body count increases though, the enemy should get more jittery, they’d show up with more or heavier guns, try to set traps. And so on. The main story, again does acknowledge the player character. But the player “actions” are never acknowledge in any way. Hitman: Bloodmoney did at least have the newspaper clippings. And if I recall a notoriety stat that stuck with you. (difference between “who is that?” and “there he is!”)

    Far Cry 3 would have benefited from that. It certainly had enough core RPG elements otherwise (ability leveling etc).

    The third way would be to “leave no survivors”. Imagine spying on the enemy and hear them say: “Guard1:Did you hear about the north camp? Everyone was found dead, nobody is allowed up there now! Guard2: What happen? Guard1: It’s creepy as hell, it almost looks like they all killed each other, no traces of anyone or anything else. Maybe the creepy tribals…”

    But alas no. Also the rambo way could at times be hilarious.
    Imagine walking down a road (because you embraced a tree in the last turn and broke the car), and then an enemy jeep comes towards you. Before you have time to react the jeep screectehes to a halt. Somebody shouts “holy shit, it’s him, go go go go” and the tires spin and they bolt down the road in the other direction leaving only a dust cloud. Maybe you really should have killed that lone guard that ran into the jungle after you wiped out his entire camp.

    Then you (the player that is, not your character) curse under your breath as you know they’ll go to the nearest base and you’ll have one helluva fight on your hands or they radioed this location in and you’ll be swarmed soon. So now you have to sprint through the jungle to try and cut them off. Maybe you’ll even have to take out the bridge. Good thing you planted some C4 on it earlier that day. Damn, was that a Liger I heard?

    It is easy to critique like this. And it’s easy to say it is “easy” to do these minor changes to the game. (time and money is always the killer there) but for large AAA or AAAA (I just threw up a little in my mouth just there) titles the cost of adding “small” touches like this is the possible difference (out of a 0 to 10 score) between a 7 to 8, or a 8 to 9 or even that illusive 9 to 10 jump in review ratings that the big titles are always chasing.

    “Anyone” can make a AAA or AAAA (I’m gonna be sick if I keep typing that) game. Very few can make a “good” game. Heck even Rockstar’s GTA which pretty much has legendary status now do not do all those little things. Then again, GTA basically has the rampaging-around-the-town mechanics separate from from the main story.

    In Far Cry 3 (and most other shooters), you trekking around the island (levels in linear/more strict on-rails games) actually is part of the main story.

    Also, if you get a brush fire (nice that it’s kinda sectioned off like that) once it stops it would be nice to see it stay burned down. I’m sure somebody out there would have a major giggle fit burning everything on the island until it looks like charcoal (what’s Josh up to right now BTW?)
    Sure grass/brush do grow back so do trees. But when you take out a base, it’s engulfed in flames. The blue shirts drive right into it (and get burned as fire is unknown to these jeep driving tribesmen it seems) and after a while the fire stops it’s almost like nothing happen.

    At one point when a fire was going (one of the first times actually) the rain started and the fire stopped and I thought it was awesome. It was not until later I realized that the fire “stop” by itself and is also very localized (there appear to be actual fire “grids”). I can’t recall if the rain actually have an effect on the duration of fires.
    Fires like this usually burn for hours and are more widespread, I seem to recall this “felt” better in Far Cry 2, but that might be just subjective memory as they must surely have improved this game mechanic since then right?

    Far Cry 3 is however an improvement on Far Cry 2. It seems they are aiming for the “GTA” market. So it’s a good thing that Far Cry 3 (and a future Far Cry 4?) and GTA 5 (and GTA 6) launch windows do not have overlap as those that like both can get a chance to get both rather than have to choose between then and postpone getting the other.

    I also like that Far Cry now seems to have found itself it’s franchise place.
    Far Cry is about places nobody really know about, a far cry (couldn’t resist) away from normal civilization. And when it’s all over, the world will probably remain ignorant of the horrible event(s) that took place of which your character was instrumental in it’s/their unfolding.
    Although Far Cry 2 was not a island, it still fits in this regard with Far Cry 3.

    If the developers of Far Cry 4 (which I’m sure is gearing up as we speak) need any ideas. How about not an island. What about a long river or road or mountain pass the player character need to travel on/along/through/traverse.
    Or if the island thing is still tempting (makes it easy to “naturally” create map limits/edges) then a different climate would be nice. Tall mountains, snow and ice. (Far Cry 1 did the tropical thing, Far Cry 2 the desert/jungle, Far Cry 3 the jungle/double islands).

    If islands then maybe 3-5 ones (group of islands?), the final island (or islands) could even be in a different part of the world, there are several ways to get the player character from A to B and make it still keep sense story wise.

    Maybe a mix of the above, maybe start in warmer lands along a river, then move the action later to mountain passes and tundra, and the finale in icy north (or in a ironic twist of hot-to-cold-to-hot-again or homage to No One Lives Forever (2) a “vulcano” island.

    It would also be hilarious if the end has the hero stumble out of the woods and smack into the streets of Rio De Janeiro (it’s the old “civilization was just around the corner all along” twist).
    If Far Cry 4 ends up with a mix of the best parts of 1,2,3 it could end up pretty darn impressive and easily peak the top charts of AAA and AAAA (….Huuurrrrl!)

    1. zob says:

      Problem about custom ambient dialogues is cost. Every spoken line costs money. I like your suggestions but most of those won’t be used. Let’s say 10% of the userbase went for the whole silent assassin playthrough. That means all those money you poured into those lines is useless for the 90% of the playerbase. At the end of the day its a checks and balances issue.

  15. ACman says:

    That’s a pity.

    I was getting really excited at the prospect of Far Cry 2’s wacky gunplay in a more approachable and colourful world with nonsensical animal-skin crafting.

    A world of gun jams and off-kilter rpgs destroying vehicles flareguns igniting ammo-dumps and starting fires is way more fun.

    All you’s have to do is extend the crafting system to weapons, make the AR15s kinda finicky so that people have to use gun lubrication or cleaning kits occasionally and you’d have something compelling.

  16. I mentioned this in the other comment, but this warrants it’s own.
    Far Cry 3 has some funny ambient dialog but nothing beats
    No One Live Forever 2 ambient NPC dialog.

    Devs, I know it takes some times and costs a little and eats up space but…
    More of this please.

    It’s moments like that, where you either let out a loud “HAh!” and look around hoping nobody heard you. Or your stomach hurts for half an hour and you can barely breathe.
    Or you end up standing around the corner for a long time after, hoping they’ll talk more because that was some awesome shit.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The best psa for condom use Ive ever heard.

  17. evileeyore says:

    OMG! Canadia burned down and it’s all Josh fault!?!

    1. MrGuy says:

      You might say he was…
      {takes off sunglasses}
      fired up.

  18. Also, anyone seen this? Fucking awesome. Best promo/trailer I’ve seen so far. The “real” Vaas from Far Cry 3.

    EDIT: That’s a good fucking actor. (more live Vaas stuff by the actor)

  19. The Rocketeer says:

    Despite it’s numerous great qualiities, I really can’t recommend anyone buy this game, for one big reason: cassowaries. They are simply too terrifying to bother trying to play a game around, and the thought that they know I have transgressed against them leaves me certain my fate is inalterable.

    Cassowaries are like Rosemary’s baby, if Rosemary was a chocobo. They are ugly, fast, ubiquitous, deadly in close quarters, and travel in groups. Their brains are too simple to feel remorse or empathy, but complex enough to understand and enjoy the infliction of fear and pain.

    I’m not exaggerating. I, hidden on a hilltop, watched a cassowary stalk and kill a man simply to demonstrate that it could do so. It unhurriedly nonchalantly took position behind him, patiently waited for him to turn around, then clawed him to ribbons before he could draw his weapon… but after enjoying the realization in the eyes of a doomed man. Who was it doing this for? Me. It had to know I was there. It was sending a message.

    Do not purchase Far Cry 3. Do not let this happen to you.

    1. evileeyore says:

      Cassowarys? Really?

      I don’t fear them at all. Big old turkey’s ready for the roaster is what they are.

      No, it’s the leopards I fear. They are the only beast on the island that you can’t just run away from, they will catch you, they will kill you, and they will stuff you in a tree for later.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sharks are the ones that have me running out of the water like a scared cat.I dread when I decide to collect the underwater treasure.With land stuff,I always have some repellent on me,but in water,nothing will save you.

    2. StashAugustine says:

      Don’t worry, Zero Punctuation just said that it’s not really a holiday until you’ve napalmed a cassowary.

      1. MrGuy says:

        They’re delicious when deep fried.

  20. Grampy_Bone says:

    The story in Far Cry 3 didn’t work for me because the character you play has no voice and no dialogue. You never explain your actions, which become more and more bewildering as the game progresses. Playing both sides against each other? Okay fine, I get that. But the further you get you just keep betraying and backstabbing everyone for no apparent reason, and I hated it. I was repulsed by my own character’s actions.

    Far Cry 3 at least has a protagonist we can understand. Whether you like him or not, Jason Brody does have an arc and he does develop and grow through the story and his actions are generally explained and understandable, something the Spoiler Warning crew bemoans constantly.

    As far as emergent play mechanics, I agree that Far Cry 2 has too much re-spawning but Far Cry 3 has too little. Liberating camps should reduce enemy presence, not eliminate it entirely. Still, there were plenty of times where I found myself trying to stealth my way into a camp only to stumble on a tiger and have it chase me right through the middle. In Far Cry 2 it was totally possible to gear up, go to the objective and complete it with your preferred guns, and then move on. It was just more of a hassle because of all the driving and traveling.

    Finally, I hated the way Far Cry 2 arbitrarily sorted weapons into “primary” and “secondary” categories with no real rhyme or reason. Assault rifles and sniper rifles were both “primary” weapons despite having vastly different tactical uses, but a heavy machine gun is a “secondary” weapon? Does not compute. I hated that I couldn’t just use whatever 2 or 3 guns I wanted… oh look I can in Far Cry 3. :D

    1. Lalaland says:

      I forgot about the irritating and arbitrary weapon categories in FC2 that was yet another of the small things that started to seriously grate on me by the end.

  21. Lalaland says:

    I’m torn here while I loved the ‘nobody is a good guy’ aspect of Far Cry 2 and was able to overlook the irritations of it’s actual gameplay for it I’m having more fun playing Far Cry 3. This is mostly down to the little things as I had no problem with the weapon degradation as I thought that fit with the simmering, forgotten civil war setting (although an AK47 that can’t fire is almost a violation of the laws of physics)or even the checkpoints. I hated the ‘look at the map’ mechanic while driving, it was in game and it made sense but why my character didn’t just prop it on the steering wheel like any sane individual drove me to distraction. The too widely spaced bus stops didn’t help either as that just meant more annoying driving while glancing at my lap every 5 seconds, the bus stops themselves were a better way of doing fast travel though.

    The characters weren’t memorable in FC2 to the point where I can barely recall any of them (bar the Irish smuggler because he actually had a fairly good accent and I’m Irish so I liked that he wasn’t a damn leprechaun). Vaas, Buck and Hoyt are some of the best voice performances I’ve heard in a game in a long time and they were much more interesting protagonists than the cod philosophy spewing target of FC2.

    I prefer a game that lets me decide how I want to play and I love breaking in-game economies, I had the entire 1st island revealed by roughly mission 3 and had collected enough collectables for the ‘signature weapons’ by mission 12 or so. The signature weapons are basically turbo versions of the best weapons in each category yet I still preferred some vanilla versions so they’re not too overpowered. The collectables are actually worth seeking out as they are usually in pretty bits of the map (idols) or are quite well written (Letters of the Lost). FC2 had a great mechanic in the gun dealer missions (I loved setting up ambushes for the trucks) but your superior weaponry never really made itself felt in the same way and finding diamonds was much more of a chore.

    The islander side missions are usually well voiced and interesting but they probably play into the unfortunate ‘helpless natives, strong white guy’ trope more than most other elements. In fact I do wonder why they couldn’t have just had the main character as a second generation emigrant from the US. Handwave his parents as doctors who left, raising their son as a spoilt American (or any other wealthy westerner) would have made his return to the island and mutual embrace of it’s culture a little less uncomfortable.

    On balance while I loved the feel of FC2 enough to overlook it’s limitations FC3 is a much more enjoyable game for me.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A question comes to mind:Why are these games called far cry 2 and far cry 3?Why not label them something else,like far cry:malaria and far cry:pirates?They are both stand alone games completely disconnected from far cry 1,so why treat them like part of a series?It just drives potential gamers away.

    Yahtzee talked about this recently,and I agree with him.Naming your game simply title# is really dumb,especially when its not a direct continuation of the story.

    1. MrGuy says:

      Star Wars: Binks

    2. Amnestic says:

      What about a series based on not being connected to any of its previous iterations – Final Fantasy*? I’d argue that the reverse is also true. When you have a series of games which are none of them connected, then using numbers is far preferable to some sort of subtitle.

      I mean, can you imagine a discussion about the merits of the different games if they all had different silly names rather than snappy roman numerals?

      *Yes, I’m aware that there are spinoff games which all link to one another (Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, Tactics, Crystal Chronicles, X-2, XIII-2, etc.) but those generally also have the number in them helping to further differentiate.

    3. Fleaman says:

      Actually, when I think about it I sorta like numbering. There’s information packed into that number, and while it’s all shorthand it’s still more than a subtitle, which tells you exactly nothing. Games with high numbers are likely to have better technology and a more refined formula, while games with low numbers where high numbers are known to exist are more likely to be purer and more experimental than later iterations. A game with a “2” means there’s another game I should look for to find the story’s roots, while a game with “:Revelations” could be any fucking thing.

      1. Shamus says:

        That’s a really interesting point. “3” Can be more informative than “Battle of the Aegis-Masters” or whatever. Only the faithful will have the chronology of the titles memorized, but everyone can put the major Final Fantasy games in order, and probably have a very rough guess at the time periods where each one arrived. (I know FF is in the teens now, so 7 must have been bloody ages ago, etc.)

        1. Thomas says:

          I like the Assassins Creed system, a number tells you its a series increment and a name tells you it’s some sort of spin off.

          The Metal Gear franchise has messed up naming conventions. Metal Gear is the franchise name, Solid is the ?? (presumably we may get a Metal Gear Argon or something one day), the number tells you that it’s the core franchise (so not Metal Gear: Acid) and it’s location amongst the others (but not in-universe chronological) and then the name gives you a flavour to theme and denotes which ”edition” of the game you’ve bought. So we get Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence which is the special edition version of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, which is the 3rd of the Solid arc, the 5th mainstream game produced and the first chronologically

        2. Thomas says:

          I like the Assassins Creed system, a number tells you its a series increment and a name tells you it’s some sort of spin off.

          The Metal Gear franchise has messed up naming conventions. Metal Gear is the franchise name, Solid is the spin-off status (Metal Gear Acid, Metal Gear Rising), the number tells you its location amongst the others in that spin-off (but not in-universe chronological) and then the name gives you a flavour to theme and denotes which ”edition” of the game you’ve bought. So we get Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence which is the special edition version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which is the 3rd of the Solid arc, the 5th mainstream Metal Gear game produced and the first chronologically

        3. Adalore says:

          The only thing confusing about Final fantasy is when they first started releasing more games in the US, where if I recall correctly the actual FF 5 was FF 3 here, they then got smart and stopped doing that.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Ok,but you can still slap a subtitle after the number.So far cry 2:malaria.Or how about the total war route: Malaria – Far cry 2?

        1. Fleaman says:

          That pretty much works, as long as you keep the meaning of the number and the subtitle roughly consistent within the series (Thomas’ had good examples of two different but internally consistent schemes above). Total War works out pretty well too: The subtitle is the period and the number is the iteration of that period, although you sacrifice knowing the overall sequencing of the games in real world time, which would have been useful since it’s significant for this series that each game is technologically superior to its predecessor.

          Also, they should’ve kept “Total War” at the front. I’ve got a Steam library full of Total War games, and also Shogun 2. It’s sort of the Total War: Zoidberg.

  23. Thomas says:

    You’re such a good thing for gaming Chris, and that’s not just aimless flattery but if we had more of a culture of people who want to take games seriously then that would slowly change the industry and open up whole new avenues of games. I don’t even have to agree, it’s just nice that someones talking about what a games mechanics mean and placing it in a broader context.

    It took me a while to come around but now it’s a shame that even some of the intellectual look at mechanics still ends up breaking them down into 8 or so engagements that all serve to entertain and not necessarily a lot else. Although I guess a book or a film has to have some way of making you want to consume and that’s possibly what Far Cry 2 was lacking. Maybe the minute to minute exploration wasn’t gripping enough to be worth experiencing the frustration of clearing out another checkpoint.

  24. Kyoodle says:

    I’ve always been surprised people find themes in Far Cry 2, have they ever actually been confirmed by the developer? The game has maybe 3 half decent hours of gameplay spread across 15 so it seems likely people will get bored and start seeing what isn’t really there.

    For example the reason both sides look the same is because there is only one set of enemies. The two sides never fight outside of the scripted town battles and you can’t lure enemy patrols into fighting each other. So lazy game design (setting a game in a civil war but not including different factions in the a.i.) becomes ‘oh they look the same it’s some kind of social commentary’.

    As for FC2 having emergent gameplay I have to disagree, the reason it’s such a dreary slog to play is because it’s so repetitive. You’ll see an enemy car every few hundred metres and you deal with it in exactly the same way. Enemies respawn with the same weapons so camps are dealt with in the same way. The only real variation is sometimes you’ll have to mash a button because of your disease and others it’s because your gun jammed.

    1. Robyrt says:

      Yes, this stuff is confirmed by the developers. Clint Hocking has been very voluble about the internal development of the game, what they were thinking, what emotions they were trying to evoke from the player, etc. This comment thread has some great answers.

  25. RCN says:

    Personally I also liked the morality themes of Farcry 2, but thought the gameplay was flawed in several aspects (though emergent play wasn’t one of them). Getting rid of the gameplay style AND the morality themes is… a bit disheartening.

    Really, I feel like whenever the triple-A part of the industry dips its toe into ambiguous morality narrative, it instantly backs the hell out regardless of actual outcries to this kind of thing. Mass Effect comes to mind. The Paragon/Renegade system was Bioware making a non black-and-white morality system for its game. Paragon was idealistic, Renegade was pragmatic. They did mess up on the execution though. Renegade/pragmaticism meant you were being an asshole and antagonizing people in order to fulfill your missions, on the other hand Paragon/idealistic Shepard wasn’t losing anything for his idealism, he fulfilled objectives just as easy (or easier) and generally simply had better results. This made Renegade seem like an asshole without cause, which in turn made both follow-up games to treat Renegade as an asshole for the sake of being an asshole and Paragon as an uncompromising nice guy.

    I was actually shocked there wasn’t a Paragon option to save both Kaidan and Ashley.

  26. Alex says:

    The Saints Row series has the same problem with running out of fun. SR2 let you replay missions but in both SR2 and SR3 its possible to wipe out the enemy gangs, which means no more free roam battles against anyone but the cops. And really, is there anything sadder than a sandbox game where you just unlocked an awesome new toy but don’t have anyone to use it on?

  27. natureguy85 says:

    I know this post is old and this comment may never be read, but hey, I played FarCry 3 well after it came out. I agree with everything said here. You touched on my only complaint about FarCry 2 (other than the bad voice acting), which was the rapidly replenishing outposts, and my major gripe with FarCry 3, which was the boredom that is owned territory. This also made no sense. Where did all these native fighters come from? How are they able to hold territory when they couldn’t take an outpost on their own? Why do the bad guys not try to take it back?

    I loved that a firefight against 2 guys in FC3 could easily turn into a battle with 10 that made me run away for my life. My second gripe with FC3 was the stupid “way of the warrior” theme with those hunting quests. Blow up 5 dogs with a rocket launcer? Screw you, game. Some warrior.

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