9 March 2013

Post Thoughts: Far Cry 3


I was shocked to see UPlay given an actual character in the game...

A pain in the ass. Even when it's in "offline mode" and steam is offline as well, it is still connecting to the servers somehow as it continuously restarts and updates for other games that I DON'T own when both programmes are under this setting. It's frustrating being lied to. It's frustrating that they don't let me play the game without Steam being on and it's frustrating that UPlay isn't a ubiquitous (see what I did there) programme and somehow has shards or splinters that function differently on my PC.


This woman was probably the most interesting character in the whole game!

The characters are completely unbelievable and for the most part unlikeable. The only people I thought were well-written were the doctor, Daisy (your elder brother's girlfriend with the blonde hair) and Dennis. Their dialogues were pretty good in general and well-acted.
In contrast, Oli is ridiculously written and the arc between Brody and his girlfriend is very quick and overly dramatic without the player experiencing any of the emotions going on. You literally spend around 2-5 minutes with her after her rescue and there's just not enough time to form any sort of connection or reason to care about her. Then, you're a complete and utter dick to her. "Goodbye, Liza."

Keith is really the only person who is visibly traumatised by the events on the island, everyone else is just "business as usual". He's also written and acted in a way that makes you realise this even if his captor and tormentor was a very weird thing in this setting.

Vaas is really well voice acted. The best in the game in my opinion. However, well, his character doesn't really make any sense. He's the head of these pirates but he's crazy? That's who he is? I mean, come on. More on this below in the story section.

Citra. She's really two-dimensional and they play up her sex appeal for more than they should. She's probably the most stereotyped character in the game and is weaker for it. She's a MacGuffin, nothing more. Plus the forced "love interest" with her is patently unbelievable.

Dennis, and his unrequited love is another interesting sub plot in the game... usurped in his chance of winning that which he admires and desires by the person he was using to achieve those goals himself. He's a likeable character and, for me, relates well with the player.

It's difficult to second-guess a writer but if I had written this I would have had Daisy as your girlfriend as she's strong and has a better, clearer personality and relationship with Brody than Liza. She would also post as a nice contrast with Citra as both are strong but use their strengths in different ways. This is in comparison with how Liza is compared to Citra as Liza is not strong or powerful, she's vulnerable and it's quite an easy choice for the character of Brody to leave her behind without much of a thought. I would have had Liza as Grant's girlfriend and made her want to keep everyone together and be a little crazy/obsessed with it as part of her clinging to what she knows in the aftermath of finding out about his death and their captivity. This would have allowed them to write her the same as she is now and would make the "leaving" scene a bit better. Even Daisy's parting jibe to Brody as he leaves the cavern should  have been delivered by Liza, by his hurt, rejected girlfriend. But it wasn't.

I'd also have had some sort of dialogue option to speak to Grant's grave and say goodbye or something like you can to the rest of the party.

The cast of mostly-cardboard characters, also known as your depthless friends. Is it any wonder Jason Brody leaves them behind?


The escape from the burning building - how are you all not burnt?! Come on, she was doused in petrol and literally had a flame flung next to her... and she was unharmed?! Yet somehow the floor was burned enough that it would collapse and set the rest of the building on fire too? Fire doesn't spread that fast... or weaken that quickly and I seriously doubt they doused the whole building with petrol.

Vaas doesn't make sense. Crazy people don't rule for very long and they usually get replaced or mutiny occurs. He's just not stable enough for me to believe that he runs any sort of operation larger than the couple of people we see him with all the time yet somehow he's this big danger and mastermind that's stopping the local population from pushing them off the island.

Speaking of which... where did all these natives come from? The temple? There's tonnes that just appear driving around and in the encampments once you've killed the pirates...

Then there's his hideout. Again, fire magically spreads and appears from nowhere and floors collapse less than a second after catching fire and the screen is all warped as if you're on drugs. AND you survive being stabbed in the chest with nary a negative effect... enough to hallucinokill your enemy in what I assume to be hand-to-hand combat (the rest of the hallucination being the fight).

Again, how many times do they wrest control of you away in a cutscene and have you defeated? It's frustrating. Developers - stop doing this!!

Then there's the boat. The escape boat I mean. The one that's trapped inside a caved-in inlet that you'd have to blow up with explosives to get out of and yet all the while the boat is being fixed by the swimmer this small hurdle is never mentioned - note the only thing she says is "you don't know boats", there's nothing established that makes her an authority on the mechanics of them!

Also, the flight to the southern island. The one that even I, a person with virtually no stamina, could swim to from the shore of the northern island. This makes no sense. I was expecting to be dropped off behind enemy lines or something but you travel less than a couple of miles from where you take off!

There are also many parts of the game were it's one short uninteractible cutscene shortly after the next. That part in the bar just after you get to the southern island is a prime example. The player's only action is to shuffle from one trigger to the next. Why not just make it all one scene?!

There are also many times when a character you're meant to meet disappears or whatever and somehow, magically (which is a good thing because there are no other hints or indications) you know from the map/quest marker. It's very gamey and stupid.

The part where you impersonate an enemy recruit is also quite ridiculous whereby you hope no one will realise who you are - despite the huge knife holed and blood-covered uniform...

Game play:

My problem with Far Cry 3 is that it makes no sense as a world. The developers have streamlined everything to make it all easy without really balancing the underlying game logic. So what would I do differently?


I think the idea of the encampments was good but the implementation was poor. The problem that Far Cry 2 had with the checkpoints was that they literally respawned immediately and you couldn't get past them without triggering a rubber band pursuit. The problem with Far Cry 3 is that they're permanently removed from play so it's completely the opposite.

I think what needed to happen was to maybe have fewer of these encampments/bases but larger compounds like the one Vaas uses as a hideout. From these, satellite checkpoints/guard posts would be stationed from men in the garrison there. The check points could be cleared by the player and this would eventually (say half a day in game time) be restocked from the local base, reducing the number of opponents there. This would then be restocked from a large main base (Vaas's island), which is crawling with pirates, every few days. This main base would not be restocked.

The important thing is that the supply of pirates wouldn't be infinite and actually taking out bases and checkpoints would have a gameplay reason beyond fast travel and weapon stores. This would also have the important effect of making the game more challenging in the beginning but easier as you go on and would negate the need for XP and special skill unlocks - just give everyone a standard set of skills from the get-go.

I also wouldn't have all the checkpoints and outposts or bases being replaced by Rakyat warriors. There's just too many of them in the game. Leave them empty and maybe, if it's possible, have the pirates re-take bases if there are enough of them to do so from the main base - just as if it's being restocked as per above.

Funny how a single bullet from several hundred yards away will destroy only the door to the cage of ferocious animals... Also, damn map!!


Vehicles make no sense in this game. They are just dropped around randomly for no reason. There's no story to tell why (say a dead person in the road next to a car, a half-eaten man near a glider). I'm okay with there being transport dotted around the island but at least have it make sense - give them stories and don't have them respawn - show the ones that are deep in the jungle as decayed, not brand new as if they were put there the same day. 

I mean, why are hang gliders dotted around the top of the mountains? As far as I can tell it wasn't even a tourist destination before Brody and his friends showed up since a) they were transported from another island to jump over this one and b) there's no tourist stuff here and most importantly and completely unavoidably obvious: c) there are bloody pirates who kidnap people on this island and in full control of it! These sorts of things don't get overlooked. The pirates wouldn't bother with something like a hang glider, nor would the locals so what's the logic and why so many?!

Cars are easier to explain, though not much and not in the quantities they have in game currently. We have a poor, destitute, on the verge of poverty. They wouldn't have the money for all these weapons and vehicles and they would be in a generally poorer state than they are. I mean, this is the sort of thing you find in places like this:

Where's that in this game?

This whole scenario makes the repair tool worse than useless because you are never normally more than 500m away from transport - especially given that you can walk up to any Rakyat vehicle and commandeer it!

Finding, keeping and losing vehicles in this game should be a big thing. It should be important... but it's not. Imagine being able to destroy the pirate's motor pool (americanism) and then them having fewer vehicles to be able to get around in and harass you on the roads, get men to checkpoints and to bases etc. You'd find them walking along the roads to get to their destination. Imagine ambushing a group of 20 men you happen upon that have been sent to reinforce a base...

That sounds like fun to me.

I'd keep fast travel though. That's not a problem for this game, IMO. This lessening of transport would have the effect of further improving the lethality of wild animals as you'd find yourself forced to cut across jungle more often.

Boats. Is there any point to them in this game? You can't traverse large portions of the water despite there being viewable landmass on the other side and there just aren't that many large rivers going through the island and they make no logical sense - they're too big and too deep for such a small island: there's just no way for them to be filled and, moving around in the game there's no springs or huge lakes or resevoirs to keep them flowing and filled. Not to mention that they're all stepped like locks on a canal: you can't get far on the water without having to stop and walk around an obstacle. Hang gliders and land-based vehicles are just far superior in every way and there's no reason to choose a boat over one of these since all your tasks are on land and not water.

The wing suit would be a good addition but its use is fairly limited and I'm not really sure why they included it given all the other similar options (zip line and hang glider).

Guns and ammunition:

Guns and ammo are too cheap and too easily obtained in this game. You're never really worried about running out of ammo and your guns never degrade so they're disposable as you can get the same gun any time you want for free when you go to a store - you don't even have to physically buy it, since you can unlock them through play!

Again, having a good, well-stocked weapon should be a big thing. Weapons shouldn't be disposable. I would like them to degrade a bit too - but not as fast as it was in Far Cry 2. They should also be more expensive than they are as there will be limited availability and market among the locals and the pirates would be getting theirs through Voyt and his contacts, not little marketplace sellers in the towns they're meant to be oppressing. You think they'd allow their potential opponents to armour-up? No way! They'd be stupid to let weapons shops continue to operate.

Not to mention that ammo is cross compatible with every weapon in its class. i.e. All SMG ammo is compatible with all the SMGs etc. This is completely unrealistic and never explained in the game so, even not being into weapons I was initially confused about how ammo supply worked.

So, I'd make the weapons degrade, but not that quickly. I'd make them harder to get and no shops selling anything beyond hand guns. I'd make it so you had the bow from very early in the game and you would be able to craft arrows from the feathers you can get from birds (but can't do anything with!) and harvestable tree  parts. This would have the effect that scavenging for money would actually be important, rather than being able to overlook it. It would also mean that scavenging from your foes was important.

I would also put weapon caches in enemy bases and smaller ones in certain outposts. This would allow you to make the choice whether you want to break in/sneak in and steal some really good stuff and restock your arsenal or instead just do with the looting you get from killing pirates. There should never be a case where you're discarding a rocket launcher without a thought because you want a pistol now and you can get another whenever you want for free from a store. It would also mean that using weapons in the right instance/scenario would also be important and add to the tactical nature of the game.

Ammo-wise, I'd have shops selling hand gun and SMG ammo. You'd also be able to get molotov cocktails because they are a low tech solution. However, rifles and anything else (including hand grenades) would be a rare stock item (if at all) and the probability of availability in shops might be dependent on if you'd cleared the local base/outposts and thus looting and selling by the locals would happen.

I'd also make the "signature weapons" be gifts from the locals for freeing them of the oppression of the pirate menace.

You can't get this weapon in the base game but I'm waiting for someone to mod it in. And yes... I have no idea what this guy is doing on the top of the mountain. Maybe he's the one who leaves all those vehicles and hang gliders lying around?

Radio towers and maps:

The radio towers are, IMO unnecessary to be able to see the layout of the land. Sure, use them to mark locations on the map but you should be able to buy a map of the landmass from any shop.

I think they are nice little platforming puzzles that make good use of geometry and the clambering mechanic but otherwise completely uninteresting.

Other than that they also lack the logic in the game world. The pirates blocked their signals from working for the population and installed circuitry to (presumably) make it so that only they could use the towers... however, they never come and retake them if you leave the tower and do not remove their forces in the area. 
If I had it my way I would do this - have men sent out to re-take the towers and deny the local population a means of communication.

Technical aspects:

The game is actually really well put together. It loads pretty quickly, there are virtually no bugs: I found two, one when sliding from a sprint I ended up sliding down a steep incline which got me stuck in the geometry but I could escape by fast travelling. The other is consistently occurring when alt-tabbing from the desktop: it messes up the UI scaling and makes the map/compass really small. 
There are issues with the automated aspects of clambering though, which as I mentioned in a previous post, often has you floating through the air. I also turned off the tutorial notices but they keep popping up during missions - even on the second island!

I do have two small gripes though. You can remove most of the UI from the screen but you can't get rid of the minimap/compass which means that all screenshots that aren't in a cutscene have that in the way - or at least I couldn't find the option. There is also a lot of blur used on distant landscapes in the game and I find it really distracting.

The distance blur is really off-putting to me in the aesthetic context of the game.

Other than these small issues the engine is really stable, not very demanding on hardware even at high settings and a decent-looking game: not the prettiest but not ugly either. I also REALLY appreciate the ability to change FOV to whatever I wish. That one option makes this game amazing in my book!


Vaas thinks Far Cry 3 is so-so.

I like the game. I think it's good. In many ways it's a step sideways from Far Cry 2 instead of a step forward - which is interesting given the amount of RPG they've stuck into the franchise from the first to this entry. Almost the polar opposite of the Mass Effect series in which they removed that stuff.

I'm still not sure if I'll finish it as it's a bit of a chore and a bit repetitive as well. I had the same problem with Far Cry 2 as well - once I got to the second map. Back then, Tboon convinced me to finish it months after I'd put it down and the ending was a least interesting. I fear that it may take another external force to convince me to finish this one... it just doesn't feel like there's anything interesting that it's going to say, story-wise. If there is, let me know in the comments!

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