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Journal of No. 118


January 4th, 2013

Far Cry 3 @ 03:55 pm

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On the surface, Far Cry 3 is a well-executed first person shooter with a world and plot that are carelessly stereotypical, troubling, and idiotic. But if you look deep, you'll find that it is a well-executed first person shooter with a world and plot that is carefully stereotypical, troubling, and idiotic.

Gameplay is a lot of fun with enough variation to keep you happy.
The island itself is beautiful, if geologically improbable. I would like to single out their vehicle physics as being, not really realistic, but fun, and with some nice audio/tactile feedback for slipping on sandy/gravelly paths.
I had been sold on the idea that the game allowed different strategies, from sneaky to Rambo. It's not as true as I'd hoped, but certainly offers some opportunities. There is nothing better than sneaking unseen into an outpost, finding that the bad guys have (for some reason) trapped a tiger or a bear in a cage, letting it loose, and watching it eat all the bad guys. One animal literally did all my work for me. I should mention, too, that the most dangerous things in the game are wild animals and cliffs. Guys with flamethrowers and machine guns are no match for a tiger, and many's the hill I thought I could slide down that instead killed me. That was annoying. Another annoyance is that the game is very pesky about where you have to stand to loot a dead body or a treasure box.

And then there's the story. You and a few of your SoCal pals go off to a South Pacific island for vacation, and then get kidnapped. You escape and set about trying to rescue your friends. To do this, you need to learn how to kill people more better. Fortunately, the locals have the magic knowledge of killing people, and they teach you, so that you may overthrow the bad guys. Now, a lot of people have declared this racist, and... it more or less is. If the locals know all these wicked combo moves, why are they waiting for your sorry white ass to liberate their island?
One of the natives is a bad guy, and when someone mentions that I should go see his sister, who's on the good side, my extremely-lazy writer faculty immediately said, "I bet she's hot and we fuck." Extremely-lazy writer faculty 1, subtlety 0. (Though I confess I did like the way the drug-fueled visionquest melted into fucking. I won't say it was subtle, or promoted positive more-than-1-dimensional roles for women in videogames, but it was at least visualized cleverly.)

Now the designer has given several interviews in which he defends the game, saying that all this was some sort of postmodern meta-comment about gaming. It makes me want to punch him, and advise all my friends in the video game industry to never hire him. Not because he's racist and sexist. But because he's an idiot. It's tempting to say that his interviews are merely after-the-fact rationalizations to explain his racist, sexist game, but I think he did have some half-baked idea of.... something.... going in. It's just really poorly conceived and executed, and even he can't coherently explain it.
 
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Journal of No. 118