Friday, December 28, 2012

a holiday visit to an exotic island

This semester break is arguably one of the best semester break that I have ever had. Aside from being able to go back to my hometown and performing well above my expectations for my studies this semester, I also had the chance to explore an exotic tropical island together with my friends. We went skydiving, jet-skiing, clubbing and touring around what I think is one of the most beautiful islands that I've ever seen. 

Too bad the entire trip was lived through the eyes of one Jason Brody (who shall henceforth be called the stoned kid) on a fictional island in my laptop though, because you see, the entire trip is a part of the plot of an awesome game that I've just finished playing called Far Cry 3.


Jason Brody, the supposed protagonist for the game Far Cry 3, who no matter how you look at him, looks like someone who smokes too much weed in college


After what seems like forever, I have finally managed to finish the game on survivor mode and I must say, it was one fun game to play. The variety of methods that you can employ to finish off your enemies, the breathtaking landscape of Rook Island and constant adrenaline pumping action will keep one going for hours in the game and I believe that many have already complimented the awesome gameplay that Far Cry 3 has to offer so I would not dwell too long on it.

I would choose to focus instead on what a greater game Far Cry 3 if more effort would have been put into it because after all, I've played its predecessor Far Cry 2 before and by comparison, I think Far Cry 3 chose to discard some of the elements that I really liked in Far Cry 2. I have to warn you though, there's spoilers ahead but since I'm like the last person among my friends who finished the game, I don't think that warning would matter much.


on a side note, the scenery is to die for, literally, with pirates going trigger happy every time they see you


While I admit the graphics and AI response have improved tremendously since Far Cry 2, I think that many other aspects have taken a dip since then. I've been reading reviews about Far Cry 3 online and while there are complaints here and there about the story, I am surprised that almost none made reference to Far Cry 2. Maybe it's been years since the game was released but I remembered that Far Cry 2 was the first game that introduced me to an open ended story and I also remembered going wide mouthed when I first experienced the plot mechanics of the earlier game.

You see, while in Far Cry 2 you have every rights to choose your path in the game, whether you want to be all good or a total badass, Far Cry 3 does  not offer this option. From the start to the end of the game, you have no say over your character's major plot choices. You have to fight for the Rakyat whether you like it or not despite having three different factions in the game. There was a time where I was literally screaming "Yes" when Hoyt asked me whether I wan to join his privateers but sadly, the only time when you can make a decision that affects the plot only happens at the very end of the game, which is kinda boring because it only meant whether you get to see Citra naked or not.

This is a stark contrast to Far Cry 2, where you can choose to help either factions in the game and how you help them together with the type of missions you achieve will either affect your gameplay directly or indirectly. For example, if you choose to blow up a mine in one of the missions, you'll no longer be able to access the mine later in the game. It's sad to see how Far Cry 3 chose to sacrifice the open ended storyline for a linear one though, because I am one of the players who totally love being thrown difficult moral judgement to make. After all, a game needs it to be realistic.


the two factions in Far Cry 2. Imagine the awesomeness of Far Cry 3 if you can choose which of the 3 factions to side with


The absurdity of the whole storyline is another aspect that annoyed me throughout the game. Like many other reviewers who mentioned it before, how can a white jock who has never had weapons training before be able to be a better warrior than all of Citra's tattooed warriors? And why it always have to be the white guy? I can't help but draw similarities from the Far Cry 3 story to the movie Avatar. The natives are depicted as helpless and unable to defend themselves and ultimately have to rely on the white guy who must become "one of them" to save the day. It's getting pretty boring to be honest.

And to compare it back to Far Cry 2, instead of being stuck with the stoned Jason Brody, you have the freedom to choose your character. Yes, you can be whoever you want to be throughout the game. The characters are all from different nationalities and there's even a playable Chinese character in game. Somehow I can't help but suspect that the awesome Far Cry 2 team has been replaced by the team from Avatar to write for the game, which results in a lesser diversity in storyline and characters.


xianyong bai, one of the many playable characters in far cry 2


Okay, I think perhaps it's time for me to keep comparing between the two games, because if I go on, this blog post can be my thesis for the next semester already, titled "Far Cry: An In Depth Exploration of the Franchise".

In Far Cry 3's defense, I'm not saying that the game is bad. I'm just lamenting the fact that the game has so much potential to reach a greater height and it's a waste to see it cough splutter and die halfway through the story. I'm with the majority when I say that Vaas is perhaps one of the greatest selling point of the game. His manic personality coupled together with his struggles make him an worthy opponent to defeat. Kind of like a love hate relationship, if you ask me. And I think the developers know it too when they put him on the front cover instead of Jason Brody or Citra or even Hoyt on the front cover of the game.


vaas: every far cry 3 gamer just cant seem to get enough of him, especially my girl gamer friend orange


Still, with the exception of Jason and Citra (I like her only because of her body), I would still say that most of the characters are not too terrible in their acting and personality. It;s just that when Dennis puts it in a way that says Hoyt is much more scarier than Vaas, you would naturally come to expect more, only to have your hope fizzled out when he turned out to be like a mafia boss you see from movies and games like the Godfather and Mafia 2.

In addition to that, I also find that the game sort of fizzled out halfway after Vaas's death. Aside from losing a worthy adversary, you also find that the relic hunting, outpost freeing and radio tower scaling to be getting quite repetitive. Not to mention how the animals are becoming more of an annoyance than a commodity in the game already.


animal hunting used to be fun, until you maxed out all your pouches and bags


Speaking of maxing out, I realized one reason why people tend to complain of boredom at the second half of the game is because after you max out your skills, weapons and syringes, the game has little new things to offer you for the remainder of the game except of the progression of the main story. For someone who loves to explore like me, when there's no new skills or weapon to unlock, there's very little reason for me to continue enjoying the game other than to blitz through the main story.

But of course, the game is not all negatives. I do love some of the small little distractions that the developers throw into the game, like the random poker matches all around the map, for example. There was once that I got so distracted that I spent one whole hour playing poker with random villagers rather than hunting down Vaas or saving my friends. The mechanics and thoughts the developers put in to a single game of poker was unbelievably realistic and enjoyable, so much so that you're in the middle of a FPS game, not a poker simulation game.


le poker fun. 7 pair!! i think my poker skills have improved from the one hour of gameplay


And have I mentioned the scenery yet? Yes the scenery. From the serene beaches of the island to shabby towns to world war two era bunkers to a long forgotten ancient Chinese ruin, the game keeps throwing you into a variety of settings to keep you interested. It never gets bored to admire the details that the designers put into designing each and every location. The ability to kill enemies in these locations just make the whole experience so much more exciting and surreal, like you're in some Hollywood blockbuster movie.


this ancient chinese ruin made me feel like indiana jones


while this made me feel like i'm Hawkeye


All in all, I would think that Far Cry 3 is an enjoyable game to play but it stops short from being a truly memorable game, one that makes people go "Wow, that's the most epic game that I've ever played" when they reach the ending. In short, if Far Cry 2 was on better graphics, I think it has a fair fighting chance with it's successor in terms of storyline and plot.

On a totally unrelated note, why would Jason would hesitate when it comes to choosing Citra or Liza?


i mean this is so much better than Citra


Like I said, no freedom.


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